A brief introduction to artist Cang Xin’s performance series entitled Identity Exchange. The photographs from this series have been included in 30 years of Chinese Contemporary Art, a large group show which opened recently at Power Station of Art in Shanghai. This text is included in the catalogue for that show. The text has been excerpted from a much longer piece I wrote about Cang Xin for a book that will be published before the end of this year (hopefully).
“The body for Cang Xin seems to be merely an outer shell for an inner being. The body acts much like clothing, which represents a temporary fixing of certain aspects of an identity, but these cannot be seen as a permanent state for the being. Identity Exchange makes this clear, and also brings in a new feature of Cang’s work, the artist as providing a type of psychological or therapeutic service to the collaborator and society as a whole – something that reflects Cang’s growing interest in shamanism at the time of these pieces.
“Later on in his works, Cang Xin’s body takes on a more active role, but then it is not about working on the body (as his peers Zhang Huan and Ma Liuming might be said to do), but working with the body in relation to the viewer/audience.”