holy flying fetuses batman

Speaking of 萧昱 Xiao Yu and his penchant for the kind of art which would see him in the skanky parts of most countries jails playing hide the soap, and probably corralled with rapists and pedophiles just on principle, just for being depraved, god-hating baby-killer…

In Bern at the Kunstmuseum at the moment is 麻将 Mahjong, a retrospective of some of the most hyped Chinese art of the last 15 years collected by former Suisse ambassador Uli Sigg, which I have been meaning to a) see and b) write about. Xiao Yu was there. But isn’t anymore. A :cough: journalist and former member of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party got in a hissy-fit over 《胎兒-海鷗》 Ruan, a fetus head grafted to a bird’s body floating in a large bell-jar, is on a carpet-bombing mission of suing everything in sight and generally acting like a wanker.

For me, the implications of this work and other corporeally fixated installations coming out of China are complex but not for the most common knee-jerk morality responses. What’s fascinating is how a work like this could be made in China, which is relentlessly presented as (and often is) an autocratic dictatorship of low-tolerance, rigourous censorship. Against this, is the self-evident truth that such a piece could never be made in Australia, or indeed any western country I can think of without the artist ending up in jail, national and parliamentary hysteria and the work destroyed in a fit of apoplectic fundamentalist righteous rage.

The other instant response for me is the conceptual environment surrounding the making of these installations. Initially I was a huge fan of these artists for very self-centred reasons as the aesthetics of my work is in a similar field. Then after spending increasing amounts of time in China, and daily living in the desolation of humanity, the callous worthlessness of individuals and the engorged corruption and power-mongering I began to see a kind of violent nihilism in this art. Not the least spurred on by the mindless obsession in alot of 前卫艺术家 avant-garde artists with being radical, shocking, controversial, and 前卫 qianwei just for the sake of it.

Obviously this art is going to piss off alot of people, just like Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ did and still does. The difference though is while Serrano ultimately set out to annoy people, Xiao Yu and others have a qualitatively different agenda, which is why despite the conceptual unrest, I always see something of joy in their works.

A museum in the Swiss capital, Bern, has provisionally removed an exhibit featuring the head of a human foetus from a temporary collection of Chinese art.

The move follows confirmation from the artist that the foetus head, which is attached to a seagull’s body, is genuine.

Xiao Yu explained that he bought the head of a six-month-old female foetus in 1999 from someone connected to a scientific exhibition in the Chinese capital, Beijing. He said the head dated from the 1960s.

The exhibition at Bern’s Fine Arts Museum became the subject of legal proceedings on Monday, after Adrien de Riedmatten – a journalist and former candidate for the rightwing Swiss People’s Party – filed a complaint with the local prosecutor, denouncing the item on display on the grounds that “we owe a minimum amount of respect to the dead”.

“I think it is reasonable to question the ethics of this piece of art,” de Riedmatten told swissinfo.

The museum has announced that it will hold an expert symposium on August 22 to examine the ethical issues surrounding the controversial exhibit – one of 1,200 works by 180 artists currently on display.

De Riedmatten said the legal action was directed at the artist, the museum and the owner of the piece, former Swiss ambassador to China, Uli Sigg.

— swissinfo

Chinese artist defends fetus artwork

BEIJING –A Chinese artist who grafted the head of a human fetus onto the body of a bird has defended his work as art after a Swiss museum withdrew the piece from an exhibit.

“It’s precisely because I respect all life that I did this,” artist Xiao Yu said Tuesday. He said the bird and fetus “died because there was something wrong with them. … I thought putting them together like this was a way for them to have another life.”

Swiss museum visitor Adrien de Riedmatten, 29, filed a complaint on Monday with the district attorney of Bern, Switzerland, calling for an investigation into the piece, which was on display at the Bern Art Museum.

“I want to know where this baby comes from and if it was killed for this work,” de Riedmatten said. “We know about the problems of late-term abortions in China and we have the right to ask ourselves questions.”

The work was removed, curator Bernhard Fibicher said Tuesday, because museum directors didn’t want the controversy surrounding it to overshadow the rest of the “Mahjong” exhibit, which features avant-garde Chinese works from the last 25 years. The museum is planning an Aug. 22 symposium with artists, philosophers and ethics experts before deciding whether to re-exhibit the piece.

Xiao said he bought the head in 1999 for a few dollars from a man who was cleaning out a scientific exhibition hall. The glass bottle in which it came had a handwritten sticker identifying it as a female specimen from the 1960s. According to Xiao, it had no name or cause of death.

He said he thought it was a miscarriage and not an aborted fetus, because it predated China’s “one child” birth control policy — launched in the late 1970s to limit most urban couples to one child in order to slow the growth of its population, which officially hit 1.3 billion this year. Rural couples and some in cities are allowed two children.

Human rights groups say that Chinese officials sometimes force women to have abortions if they already have the maximum number of children.

The name of the piece, “Ruan,” is a word Xiao invented that combines the Chinese characters for different kinds of animals. Xiao said he added the eyes of a rabbit to the head.

Xiao is known for shocking material. He once paid an assistant $1,200 to sew pairs of living lab mice together at the hip and displayed them in glass bowls.

Museum withdraws controversial foetus exhibit

A museum in the Swiss capital, Bern, has provisionally removed an exhibit featuring the head of a human foetus from a temporary collection of Chinese art.

The move follows confirmation from the artist that the foetus head, which is attached to a seagull’s body, is genuine.

Xiao Yu explained that he bought the head of a six-month-old female foetus in 1999 from someone connected to a scientific exhibition in the Chinese capital, Beijing. He said the head dated from the 1960s.

The exhibition at Bern’s Fine Arts Museum became the subject of legal proceedings on Monday, after Adrien de Riedmatten – a journalist and former candidate for the rightwing Swiss People’s Party – filed a complaint with the local prosecutor, denouncing the item on display on the grounds that “we owe a minimum amount of respect to the dead”.

“I think it is reasonable to question the ethics of this piece of art,” de Riedmatten told swissinfo.

The museum has announced that it will hold an expert symposium on August 22 to examine the ethical issues surrounding the controversial exhibit – one of 1,200 works by 180 artists currently on display.

Legal proceedings

De Riedmatten said the legal action was directed at the artist, the museum and the owner of the piece, former Swiss ambassador to China, Uli Sigg.

Exhibition curator Bernard Fibicher said the removal of the exhibit should prevent it from spoiling the rest of the exhibition.

Xiao Yu has strongly defended his work, saying it was precisely because he respects all life that he produced it.

“The bird and the foetus both died because there was something wrong with them. I put them together as if to allow them to have another life,” he said.

The museum has posted a warning notice at the entrance, informing the public that certain works of art may shock them.

Xiao’s exhibit was first presented at the Venice Biennale in 1999 and was purchased by Sigg in the same year.

According to the museum, the former diplomat has been following the evolution of contemporary Chinese art and has been collecting choice pieces in a systematic way since the 1990s.