He Xiangyu / He Xiangyu / Distanz
« Nothing that isn’t allowed in China cannot be done … » He Xiangyu He Xiangyu (b. Dandong, Liaoning Province, 1986; lives and works in Beijing and Berlin) belongs to a new generation of Chinese conceptual artists who use a variety of media to articulate their cultural and social concerns. His ambitious and provocative works have quickly brought him international renown. In 2008, He Xiangyu launched his « CocaCola Project, » for which he boiled down 127 tons of Coca Cola over the course of a year to extract a crystalline residue resembling soil and a black liquid. He then put lumps of the corrosive mass in museum display cases and used the liquid to paint landscapes in the style of the Song dynasty. The « Tank Project » (2011–2013) is of similar gargantuan dimensions: the artist employed an entire sewing studio to manufacture a fullsize replica of a tank out of the finest Italian leather. The deflated object alludes to the growing presence of Westernmade materials in contemporary China and, by implication, to the nexus between political and economic power. He Xiangyu’s interest in twisting the system of values is also evident in « 200 g Gold, 62 g Protein » (2012), which consists of an egg carton made of solid gold and an ordinary chicken egg: a pointed inquiry into the process in which value is attributed to specific things and art’s presumption that it can charge objects and materials with meaning. This book is He Xiangyu’s first monograph. With essays by Bao Dong, Li Zhenhua, Lu Mingjun, Sun Dongdong, and Wang Minan and a conversation between Li Zhenhua and the artist.