Li Binyuan stands on the right side of the frame as fire travels along a hemp rope soaked in gasoline. Nailed in a U-shape that describes two walls and the floor in between, the flaming rope discovers hidden power in an everyday space.Read More
About the Artist
Born in Yongzhou—a city in China's Hunan Province—in 1985, Li Binyuan is one of China's leading performance artists. He completed his BFA in Sculpture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, the city where he continues to live and work today.
Li's works are often marked by struggle and futility, expressing a confusion with the illogic of contemporary social, political, and economic structures. In Freedom Farming (2014), for example, Li spent two hours throwing himself in the mud of a field in his home village on land he inherited after his father's death. In other works he has used a hammer to smash other hammers and run naked through the streets of Beijing—deliberate but desperate outbursts of emotions ranging from rage to joy.
In 2018, New York's MoMA PS1 featured Li's recent performances with early works by Zhang Huan, one of the great Chinese performance artists of the previous generation, in the exhibition Land: Zhang Huan and Li Binyuan. Li's works have been collected by The Museum of Modern Art in New York, M+ Museum for Visual Culture in Hong Kong, KADIST in Paris and San Francisco, and the White Rabbit Collection, among other institutions.
Ocula | 2019
Li was initially unavailable to comment on his win. Known for putting his body on the line, he recently fell off a waterfall and broke four bones.
With tens of millions in China confined to their homes, galleries and institutions have likewise pivoted to online events.