Encounter with Painful Art 

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

What stayed with us after today's exhibit of new photography and video from Mainland China, were the scenes of sadomasochism; an artist salved with oil and honey attracting a toilet's flies, another artist being slapped silly (the punishing hands erased), friends of another artist submerged under water, a cartoon character on a torso slicing that very torso, disembodied porn bodyparts on Post-Its, a monumental portrait of a leg with its metal brace boring into the skin, a hand missing its pinkie because the artist buried it in China so that there will always be a part of him back home while he travelled, an artist laying on winter concrete until his breath iced the pavement, a series of tongues touching things like matches - in Twentieth Century Chinese history, there was a woman who committed suicide, I can't remember her name, by shaving the fiery bits off matches and gulping them down.

Ma Liuming proved slightly less terrible to his body: he only walked over the Great Wall until his bare feet bled.

Yet we are happy that he shared himself with us. Um, wink wink.

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