Modern Chinese artist got his start at body sniffing
Xu Zhen may be China’s Andy Warhol. He hires teams of worker to help manufacture his ideas into works of art. He is pushing the envelope in China with connections in New York City too.
“In 1999 Xu Zhen came to the attention of the Shanghai police when he cocurated an exhibition, “Art for Sale,” in a shopping mall. “In Beijing, a prestigious show would be held at the National Art Museum, so I thought a shopping mall would be perfect for Shanghai, where no art museums existed then,” he says. The authorities labeled several works pornographic, including Xu Zhen’s three-channel video From Inside the Body (1999), in which he appears on the left screen as an anonymous man, opposite a woman on the right screen, while the center video shows an empty couch. Both he and the woman begin sniffing themselves and then undress, seemingly in search of a noxious odor. Finally they meet on the couch, not doing anything explicit beyond sniffing each other’s bodies.”