new-york

Zhang Huan

Asia Society | New York

Few serious artists today could call their work “a metaphor for the human condition.” Zhang Huan does—and with a straight face. He also states, “The body is my most basic language,” and claims, “I wanted to measure myself against insurmountable limits.” His recent retrospective, “Altered States”—the Asia Society’s first for a living artist—examined three career periods. In the early nineties, in the art enclave of post-Tiananmen Beijing (dubbed the “East Village” after another once-risky hot spot), Zhang specialized in simple, grueling performances, confronting absurd situations with a stoic physicality.

Often employing volunteers, he created works that presented collective effort as harmonious but pointless. In 1998, Zhang came to New York to participate in the Asia Society’s “Inside Out: New Chinese Art,” inaugurating the second phase of his practice. Meditative sacrifice

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the January 2008 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.