Roles in Archive: Artist
b. 1977 Jiangxi, China
Chu Yun’s work This is XX (2006) utilizes an economy of means to evoke a rich panoply of associations. During the course of the exhibition, a rotating group of paid volunteers will ingest sleeping aids that will allow them to sleep through portions of the museum’s opening hours. As they lie placidly on Chu Yun’s white bed, they are transformed into a piece of living sculpture. The participants, all female, all between the ages of 18 and 40, are less real-life, modern-day Sleeping Beauties than islands of enviable calm. Unperturbed by the frantic pace of contemporary life, or by the exhibition around them, they seem to exist in a charmed atmosphere. There is an inherent irony in the participants’ supernatural tranquility: that they are only able to maintain their state of sleep with the assistance of sleeping aids, suggests that, perhaps, their state is not one of relaxation, but of withdrawal and extreme vulnerability. Provocative, and slightly sensational, This is XX not only brings up questions concerning the role of the female body in the history of art, but larger ones that ponder the role of the museum as a platform for self display. Further more, in the context of this exhibition, This is XX can be read as a counterpoint to, or even a protest against, the stereotyping of this generation as hyperactive and hyper-aware.