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Body, Self, Society
Chinese Performance Photography of the 1990s

4/14/2017 — 8/19/2017

Cx 317 Walthercollection Cangxin Toaddonemetertoananonymousmountain 1995

Conceptual Framework

For the second installment of its year-long series of exhibitions devoted to contemporary photography and video art from Asia, The Walther Collection is pleased to present Body, Self, Society: Chinese Performance Photography of the 1990s.

Highlighting some of the most significant examples of Chinese performance photography from 1995 to 1999, the exhibition features works by Ai Weiwei, Cang Xin, Huang Yan, Ma Liuming, Song Dong, Zhang Huan, and Zhuang Hui.

Aww 316A Walthercollection Aiweiwei Droppingahandynastyurn 1995 72Dpi
Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 2004

Body, Self, Society: Chinese Performance Photography of the 1990s presents the richness and variety that marks Chinese performance photography of the mid to late 1990s. Although artists' performances took place frequently in China during the 1980s, visual documentation of these events was initially haphazard, limiting wider awareness of them. By the mid-1990s, Chinese artists began to conceive performances with a clear anticipation of the way they would ultimately appear in photographs or short videos. They mastered the art of creating provocative, iconic images that documented the main elements of a fleeting performance that might been witnessed by only a handful of onlookers.

Sd 367 Walthercollection Songdong Printingonwaterperformancelhasarivertibet 1996
Song Dong, Printing on Water (Performance in the Lhasa River, Tibet), 1996

Such images were intended to be visually striking, and to attract attention when they circulated internationally in art magazines and, later, virtually via the Internet. They also provided the artists with the opportunity to produce impressive, collectible prints for the art market. The works brought together in this exhibition focus on individual artist-performers who explore three key themes: new visions of the performing body, the changing sense of self in modern China, and a continued confrontation with specific aspects of the country's society, history, and culture.

For further information, please see our exhibition guide.

Artworks on display

    Artists on display

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