I start by drawing portraits of people in the market. While sitting for the portrait, I ask each person questions about who they are and experiences that are important to them. I write this information on the back of the portrait and hang the finished piece on a wire grid. The portraits face the viewers and the written information is concealed on the back side. I then ask other participants to make up stories for the people in the portraits, based only on the drawn image, and I tape each new story on the back of the portrait. In this way the character behind the portraits grows from a few facts to a collection of imaginative fictions, each inspired by a single image.
Before the market opens I set up stacks of educational material on a table as if they were fruits or vegetables. My display includes textbooks and scholarly essays on economics, philosophy, and other academic subjects. Next to the books, I place a sign displaying a price. I start the price ridiculously high and throughout the day reduce it until I’m paying people to take the material. This project is an exploration of the overlap of culture and the market, and a symbol of of the commercialization of education and thought.
Duskin Drum, sad penguins
It is a sad penguin. It might not be all about climate. Some penguins just feel sorry for the human people.
I sit at a table and paint very simple ink and water color penguins on small pieces of paper. I try to make them feel as sad as possible. If any spectators come along, I offer them one or more of the penguins. Then we often talk about sadness, penguins, ice, ducks, eggs, climate heating, and other sad penguin related subjects. Sometimes we take photos together. When my work area becomes full and crowded with sad penguin paintings, I gather them together and tape them up in strips and grids on nearby surfaces. I can paint hundreds in a day. ‘sad penguins’ is a very simple performance that attempts to communicate non-violently with and about sadness, penguins, cuteness, and the hyperobject called climate change.
Luo Fei, Let’s blow this piece of paper
I give every person a typical sheet of A4 white paper. They put it on their face, and I ask them to blow the paper into the air, without stopping, while I videotape the event. I want to see how people can derive playful enjoyment from a normal piece of paper, and how their personality traits and body language are displayed as they blow on a piece of paper. At the same time, the repeated action of placing a piece of paper on one’s face and blowing it into the air becomes a symbol, like Sisyphus endlessly pushing a giant boulder from the bottom to the top of a hill. Only this action is not based in punishment, but rather games and longing. A part of this video work was filmed at traditional markets.
Chang Xiong, Life Cell, Registration Record
This project takes place at the entrance of the market. I hang a large sheet of canvas with a dark background marked by a number of empty spaces, floating dots of different sizes. As people leave the market, I ask them questions about what they bought and their recent dreams. Then I record their responses in the floating dots, letting them take the form of “cells” impregnated with life. These cells seem to drift in mysterious atmosphere like a solar system. As the painting develops over days, people may return with new dreams and responses to add to the evolution of the piece. By this method, I hope to express that all the details that compose our living space are not only individual “cells” (like cells generated by eating and sleeping) but also the parts that make up the greater life-structures of the earth and humanity.
I approach different vendors in the market and ask them a series of five questions, which begin non-invasive and become increasingly serious and personal. I pay them for every question of mine they are willing to answer. After I have asked all my questions, I give each vendor the opportunity to ask me as many questions he/she would like on any topic, which I answer as completely and honestly as I am able. For every question asked of me, however, I require them to repay me the same incremental amount. The project explores how intimacy is created, and whether monetary transactions complicate or simplify that process. It seeks to create a moment in which my participants and I learn about each other while also considering: Why do we trust one another? How much do we value our interaction, and in what terms? What is our privacy worth?
Upload Becky’s questions: Becky
Tommy Sueningsson and Linda Nouvellee
We plan to bring tools from our studio and set up a workshop in the market. We use objects found or purchased in the market as the raw material for our art. We might make sculptures from melons or flutes from carrots. People could give us material to work from as well. Our work is a direct response to the space and the objects and people within it.
This project involves my students and the vendors at the market. The students collect fruit, vegetables and other materials around the market. Then they use kitchen utensils and art materials to turn the found material into new objects, like animals, faces, and other natural objects. We display the creations like ordinary fruit and vegetables and then give them away to people who express interest. I also plan to have the students draw portraits of the market vendors, using fruits and vegetables to depict characteristics of the person. I hope that everyone involved in this project leaves with a deeper understanding of how we are related to the things we consume, not just by eating but also in how they form identity and common symbols. This is especially important for the vendors, who make their living from these objects.
My work involves testing how different institutions and different individuals respond to disruption. In both a traditional market and supermarket, I attempt to block a pathway by building a wall of toilet paper rolls. I interact with anyone who talks to me during the performance, but I do not stop building the wall. If audience members want to build the wall with me, they are welcome to. If they want to destroy the wall, I passively resist their efforts.
He Libin, Fragrant Memory
Under the rapid process of development, more and more of the richness and differences of the city are being lost. Only the market preserves the unique flavors. I collect and sequester the particular scents in order to create an archive of a time, place, and memory. In August, these flavors of home will accompany me as I travel abroad. They will be collected and displayed with the scents of my destination.
Joe Sneed and Orion Martin
As event curators, our time at the market is spent encouraging participation; handing out information flyers; and trying to make sense of the artists’ projects and the whole event for anyone who inquires. We have also prepared a display of four market products: apples, sunflower seeds, plums, and shrimp. Each of these products is associated with a Chinese artist who has used it as a motif in their work. We have tied slips of paper to the fruits, seeds and shrimp that describe this connection. As people visit our table, we offer them a piece from our display and, in exchange, they choose to consume a symbol of Chinese art.
We are stationed at Yong He Xin Market on Friday morning and Zhuan Xin Market on Friday afternoon. Please come eat some fruit and discuss Kunming Markets with us.