Feeling Relieved

Chinese artist He Yunchang’s work Feeling Relieved, exclusive to Sedition, is an animated digital portrait of an actual performance work staged by the artist October 3rd, 1999. The work was presented as part of the 2013 Venice Biennale China Pavilion. He Yunchang painted his body yellow, suspended himself in the air for 127 minutes, and held a mirror that reflected the light of the moving sun onto China’s An’ning Prison walls, Yunnan. The 1999 performance was titled Golden Sunshine and is considered iconic, and it is also sometimes linked to another performance work of the same year, Dialogue with Water. In the latter, the artist suspends himself over a river and cuts into the water with a knife while his own blood (from cuts inflicted to his arms) “carves” the water beneath him, for a total of 90 minutes. Dialogue with Water is referenced in Sedition’s Feeling Relieved: the mirror held by the artist in the self portrait shows an image of himself suspended upside down over the river, “cutting it into half”.

He Yunchang’s works are highly symbolic and referential and combine existentialism in contemporary China with traditional mythology and ancient philosophy - but the artist most often gets questioned about his continuing willingness to expend his body for the sake of his performances. He Yunchang: “As a human being I feel one should have a lot of pride, like a tree in the primitive forest. He should be able to grow freely. Maybe the wind will take away some branches and leaves, (but) it is normal. I can not take too many restrictions. In doing performance art (like cutting the river with a knife and casting myself in cement) I wanted to overcome many things in the secular world and break its restrictions. (...) And I feel in such attempts you can bring into play the fundamental and inherent attributes of life; namely what you can do an earth as a human being, and to what extent.”

He Yunchang lives and works in Beijing.

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