Poetics of the Body

Since the late 1980s performance art started to flourish in China as one of the most avant-gardist and challenging art forms. In the course of the last three decades body/live art, as well as other time-based artistic practices, conquer the spotlight, attracting the interest of the Western art world, and contributing to initiate an international debate about contemporary visual arts and culture from China. The large interest that European countries have towards China’s contemporary art, and performance art in particular is well demonstrated by the many exhibitions organized by major institutions in the past years. Nevertheless this fascination often does not correspond to a concrete understanding of the true peculiarities of performative practices developed by artists, both in China and abroad.

The panel discussion Poetics Of The Body, organized in the framework of Present Tense Series, has the purpose to open up a productive and meaningful conversation about the current state of performance art in/from China, about its position within the present international art scene and its future perspectives, referring to the history of this art form in the country, and underlining the original traits characterizing the most recent outcomes of Chinese performance art. In order to attempt this aim, we invited performance artist Zhou Bin, from Chengdu (China), one of the most prolific and best-known performance artists and performance art theorists from the area, to take part to the panel together with Petra Pölzl, researcher on Performance Art in China.

The talk will have a fluid and open structure: screenings of Zhou’s past works’ video documentation will function as a starting point to open up the conversation between the speakers and the audience, which is strongly encouraged to participate with questions and comments since the beginning of the discussion.

In the course of this event documentations of past performances from the series The Aftermath of Shock Art, curated by Petra Pölzl, will be presented. 
Featuring artists are: Li Binyuan, Sazi, Liu Chengrui, Alessandro Rolandi, Dong Jingling, Huang Xiang, Lui Wenchao and Xing Xin.

Zhou Bin (b. in Xi’an, China, 1970) is a prolific artist, with nearly one hundred pieces of performance art, installation, and video works; he has been doing art works and joined residency programs in Korea, Singapore, Holland, England, USA, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia, Pakistan and Israel. He believes that a performing artist needs daily training and practice while always perceiving the environment with body and heart. Thus merging art into life. His opinion of aligning “performing art and physical/spiritual practice” has gained wide publicity and recognition. He has been invited to present performing art courses in Sichuan Fine Art Institute and The Art Institute of Sichuan University since May 2012. The artist also works in collaborative projects. In 2007 he opened UP-ON Live Art Space for the specific purpose of promoting live art. In 2008, Zhou Bin curated the first UP-ON International Live Art Festival, inviting over 40 artists from all over the world to perform and exchange ideas on live art. In 2009, Zhou Bin began producing Celebration—1/6 Comment on Freedom, a multi-media, multi-artists on-going and touring live art happening. 
Lately, Zhou Bin is meditating and developing performance art theory. He believes that Chinese performance art must transcend the limits of the individual body, and must also make a contribution to international performance art discourse.

Petra Pölzl is a Ph.D. candidate, independent curator and researcher, working in Austria, Germany and China. Petra studied Chinese Studies, Chinese language and Theatre Studies in Vienna, Beijing and Berlin and holds a Master degree from the Free University of Berlin. At present she is working on her Ph.D. thesis; in her research she is focusing on the artistic and political strategies applied in Performance Art in China. She will be part of the Festival Programming Team for steirischer herbst 2015 (Graz).

PRESENT TENSE SERIES is SAVVY Contemporary's performance programme for 2014, intended to investigate practices and theories of contemporary performance art through a series of live performances, artist talks and screening, with the final aim to open up a meaningful discussion about this particular field of artistic production, which eschew any codification and possible classification. The PRESENT TENSE SERIES brings together some of the most interesting performance artists from five continents, in order to involve them in an open dialogue, in the context of which the gallery will serve as a catalyst of energies and ideas.

PRESENT TENSE SERIES VI is supported by: