Yang Zhichao's Art at the Margins

Item Type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Abstract This paper analyses the theme of marginality and liminality in the artistic oeuvre of Yang Zhichao (b. 1963), who has been one of China’s most prominent experimental artists since the 1990s. Mainly through the media of Performance Art and art installations, Yang Zhichao’s works explore the issue of social and cultural marginality in modern society—from the condition of migrant workers, beggars and psychiatric patients, to the geographical frontiers of Chinese civilisation and the status of the avant-garde artist in reform era China (1978-present). Artworks discussed in this paper include Yang Zhichao’s performance Tanning (2000) and the installation Chinese Bible (2009), as well as his “Kong Bu and Dingzi” drawings (2002-2007)—the latter representing an example of how Yang has merged the language of Performance Art with the idea of drawing and calligraphy as time-based art. While existing literature on Yang Zhichao’s art has focussed on his most “shocking” performances such as Planting Grass (2000) and Iron (2000), this paper analyses two contemporaneous works of Performance Art entitled Within the Fourth Ring (1999) and Jiayu Pass (1999-2000). The first centred around the experience of homelessness and the second around life in a psychiatric hospital, both works stem from Yang Zhichao’s belief that without placing one’s own body in the circumstances of marginalised groups the artist can never move beyond observing them ‘as a bystander or a voyeur’ (authors’ interview with the artist, 2014). By analysing these particular artworks, this study highlights the uniquely “contemporary” (in Agamben’s sense) character of Yang Zhichao’s anti-spectacle approach to Performance Art.
Authors Strafella, Giorgio & Berg, Daria
Language English
Subjects cultural studies
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
Date 17 April 2021
Event Location Held in Suzhou, China; virtual participation
Event Dates 16-17.04.2021
Depositing User Dr. Giorgio Strafella
Date Deposited 20 Apr 2021 13:49
Last Modified 20 Jul 2022 17:45
URI: https://www.alexandria.unisg.ch/publications/263052


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Strafella, Giorgio & Berg, Daria: Yang Zhichao's Art at the Margins. 2021. - CHINA FROM THE MARGINS: NEW NARRATIVES OF THE PAST AND PRESENT. - Held in Suzhou, China; virtual participation.


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