The gallery primed for Cui Xiuwen's performance
The start of the performance
Cui Xiuwen with gallery owner, Eli Klein
"Awakening of the Flesh" is a performance that represents the artist’s desire to erode the distinction between institutional and social space, as well as the distinction between artist and the viewer. Her practice exemplifies what Nicolas Bourriaud called “relational aesthetics,” a term he coined to describe art that understands itself as an experimental production of new social bonds-- as “the invention of models of sociability” and “conviviality.” Belonging to the same trajectory as artists like Rirkrit Tiravanjia, Cui Xiuwen’s performance establishes encounters in which meaning is articulated collectively rather than in private consumption.
Meditation is part of Cui Xiuwen’s daily routine, through which she explores the possibilities of a deeper state of consciousness, discovering existence and creating non-existence. "Awakening of the Flesh" is a participatory performance, where she mediates for an hour with thirty volunteers in the gallery space. During this hour, the artist asks participants to join in this communion by casting an introspective glance into themselves.
The performance of Cui’s daily routine creates a temporary utopia that is entirely beholden to the contingencies of its environment and audience. By participating in the meditation, one becomes an integral part of this performance that is arguably in perpetual flux.