Art imitating life, and vice versa

By Liu Zhihua ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-08-30 10:00:42

Hang Chunxiao, a well-known curator who helped plan Zhou Jie's exhibition 36 Days, spends a lot of time explaining to visitors why the artist is wearing clothes, and why she doesn't always lie on a wire bed.

Art imitating life, and vice versa

Naked ambition and daily life 

Art imitating life, and vice versa

Artist to sleep on iron wire bed for 36 days 

Zhou and her exhibition attracted widespread attention after photos of her lying naked on a partially completed wire bed appeared on the Internet, leading to unfounded rumors that she would lie in the nude for the full 36 days, and resulting in skepticism about her motives.

"We never said Zhou would lie naked on the bed for 36 days. I don't know how the rumors started," Hang says. "I was worried Zhou would collapse under the pressure, but she is strong enough to bear the pressure, and her family is very supportive."

Zhou is not alone in experiencing distorted public perceptions about her art.

"Since the 1990s, there have been many public misunderstandings about contemporary art and artists," Hang says. "Many people only see sensational things in art works, or incorrectly simplify the ideas the artists are trying to express."

Yue Minjun, a Beijing-based artist best known for oil paintings that show him frozen in laughter in various settings, is one of the most savage critics of contemporary society, but the social criticism implicit in his work is often ignored and his symbolic smiley faces have been copied everywhere, according to Hang.

In one of the most gruesome gestures, the artist Zhang Shengquan committed suicide on Jan 1, 2000 - the first day of the new millennium - as the ultimate act of performance art. Zhang sacrificed himself for art, but the public simply considered him to be a lunatic, and nowadays he is almost unknown, according to Hang.

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