Zhou Yan Contemporary Chinese Art Archive 周彦当代中国艺术档案



Huan ZHANG 張洹


image preview





Location of Exhibition Event

Dashancun Village (East Village), Beijing, China


Action art (photograph: gelatin silver print)


photograph: 59 x 39 1/4 inches (149.9 x 99.7 cm); sheet (sight): 66 1/8 x 46 1/8 inches (168 x 117.2 cm)


Beijing East Village


In this photo, the artist is covered in a mixture of honey and liquid from rotten fish, attracting thousands of flies to his naked body. The artist has positioned himself in a latrine in Dashancun Village, or 'East Village', named after the New York City neighborhood with the same name, primarily due to its status as a cultural hub for contemporary artists. He sits on the toilet wearing nothing but a silver bracelet. The filthy latrine room measures exactly 12 square meters, and hundreds of local residents of the East Village use it each day. After an hour of sitting with the flies, the artist steps into a nearby pond and slowly submerges himself and the flies fly away or drown (not pictured). The photograph was captured by East Village photographer and Zhang Huan's friend, RongRong, who documented much of the art coming from the village's avant-garde community. In this performance of "Action Art", Zhang engages almost all the perceptive senses and tests his endurance against discomfort. The foul stench of the latrine and rotted fish fills his nose and is worsened by the summer sun. The incessant buzzing of the flies drowns out all other sounds and their flying bodies cover his face, eyes, and body. He sits in silence for the entire hour. This action attempts to highlight the conditions of squalor the people of Dashancun Village live under. The town is positioned opposite to the commercialized Yuanmingyuan and is used by Beijing's richer contemporaries as a dumping ground. The artist protests against the Chinese government's negligence of the people of the village and their slow, or lack of, distribution of sanitary supplies. It also exemplifies a relationship between man and the natural world. This action is a part of Zhang’s existential “Body Experiments”. For more on the “Body Experiments” see: https://digital.kenyon.edu/zhoudocs/433. For more on 12 Square Meter, see Yan Zhou's "A History of Contemporary Chinese Art: 1949 to Present" (2020), pg. 310. (Nicole Wang ‘26).


Image Location


Rights Statement

In Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted