(Original language: Mandarin)
LIU WEI: This piece was created for the 2004 Shanghai Biennale. The meaning for us... 2000 might have been the year contemporary art was accepted, but 2004 was the year when a more comprehensive exhibition on contemporary art was held. The event was very important for us, and we wanted to participate in it. We sent in a lot of entries, after all, it was the first time we faced an exhibition of such a large scale. That is, a public contemporary art exhibition hosted by a government organisation. There was a lot of exploration—well, discussions perhaps, about which kinds of exhibits could or could not be accepted. Many entries were turned down at the time.
Our proposals had a kind of attitude. How should I put it? Well, they posed a sort of challenge towards the art museum, but the work as presented in this form was, after all, accepted. Many of these kinds of expressions were meant to counteract the previous idealism of Chinese contemporary art when everything you did had to have its roots in something even more majestic. For us, this is unnecessary. We just do not care; you can do whatever you want because we believe in freedom of artistic expression. This work is a transformation for me too because at that time everything was open in terms of the market, the government or any other aspect. Nothing seemed to be restricted, and there was less counter-reaction. Hence this work itself is also a transformation. Fewer and fewer works after this one focus on the feeling of the body. When looking back, it may be that the pressure no longer exists or perhaps many propositions are no longer valid.
How did a mountain landscape made out of buttocks and body hair get accepted into the Shanghai Biennale?
In this video, Liu Wei tells the story behind his 2004 work, Landscape. After the 2004 Shanghai Biennale panel rejected several of his proposals, Liu Wei submitted this photograph featuring buttocks and body hair, which, to his surprise, was accepted.
He went outside his usual preferred mediums of installation, painting, and video to create this seemingly classical landscape that mocks arbitrary institutional standards. Its monumental size and horizontal composition is contrast to the traditional handscroll in the literati context, where viewing is an intimate and personal act.
Liu Wei’s artistic practice is primarily concerned with the changing cityscape and contemporary issues stemming from globalisation.
This video was originally published on M+ Stories. The English-language version of this page has been updated to reflect the title of Liu Wei’s artwork as Landscape. It was previously titled It Looks Like a Landscape.