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Petra Poelzl – The Heaven is High and the Emperor is Far Away

21 November, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Petra Poelzl: China performance art

The Heaven is High and the Emperor is Far Away is an investigation into performative art practices in Chengdu from 1995 to 2001. In this presentation, curator and researcher Petra Poelzl discusses her field research on the overlooked performance art scene in Chengdu during the 1990s.

According to Poelzl, the China/Avant-Garde Exhibition in 1989 was a turning point for performance art in mainland China, with a series of notable performances — including ones by Beijing East Village artists who tested the limits of their bodies, and works by other artists in the late 1990s who used animal or human corpses to reflect on their sociopolitical circumstances.

Around this time, performance art also started to become a popular form in Chengdu — where practitioners worked closely with the media and the government. The Chengdu artists generated awareness for local social and environmental problems through participatory and socially-engaged actions, providing a counterpoint to their peers in the capital city.

Poelzl begins her investigation into the Chengdu performance art scene with the collaborative art activist event Keepers of the Waters (1995), which was initiated by the New York–based performance artist Betsy Damon. The event had a big influence on the local art scene, and resulted in the formation of the 719 Artist Studio Alliance, who organised performative events and ephemeral group exhibitions in public spaces until the turn of the millennium.

Free and open to the public with registration.


Asia Art Archive
+852 2844 1112


A Space, Asia Art Archive
A Space, Asia Art Archive, 10/F Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
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