Preview: Mahjong 2007 by He Yun Chang
He Yun Chang
09 Nov 4-7pm
Presented by Chambers Fine Art for PERFORMA07.
I went to Judson Church on Washington South yesterday to meet He Yun Chang whilst he prepared for his performance of Mahjong, 2007. Mahjong is a traditional Chinese game that He Yun Chang will perform with various audience members in nearby Washington Square Park on the 9th November. The performance of Mahjong itself has nothing to do with the church, but the tiles that He Yun Chang will use for the game are large bricks, 100’s of them, and they are all to be hand painted by the artist himself, so Judson Church kindly agreed to give Performa space in their basement for the brick storage and painting.
That the tiles for He Yun Chang’s unique version of Mahjong are big, heavy bricks and that each one is to be painstakingly hand-painted should come as no surprise to those who know He Yun Chang’s work. Previous projects have tested the limits of the artists’ physical and mental endurance against insurmountable odds. Such odds have included the artist trying to move a Chinese mountain with string in Moving a Mountain, 1999, being suspended over a river whilst trying to cut water with a knife in Dialogue With Water, 1999 and more recently Touring Great Britain With Rock, 2006 in which He Yun Chang walked 2000 UK miles in 9 months whilst carrying a large rock.
Although He Yun Chang doesn’t succeed in physically moving mountains or dividing rivers, the artist’s persistence does prevail in incredibly moving ways that reference human struggle and the triumph of the individual over both internal, natural and external political forces.
Mahjong,2007 will be the latest in a long line of powerful, poignant and quintessentially Chinese performances by China’s leading contemporary performance artist. Put simply, it is not to be missed.
Rachel Lois Clapham