The Red Mansion Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes artistic exchange between China and the UK, is opening a new space in London in May with an exhibition by Chinese artist Cang Xin, one of the first performance artists to come out of China after 1989. Cang Xin now lives in the 798 Factory complex of studios and galleries in Beijing.
In November 2006 Cang Xin, born in 1967, was invited to London by the foundation to take part in an artist’s residency. During his three weeks in London, Can Xin produced a new series of work entitled ‘Identity Exchange: London Series’, a continuation of his ongoing series in which he assumes the identity of different people.
Cang Xin’s interest in becoming someone else stems from his belief as a shaman that the living spirit exists in everything, be they animate or inanimate objects. Historically, shamans have been perceived as being able to transverse the boundaries of life and death, moving in and out of different bodies. Cang Xin plays on this in his ‘Identity Exchange’ series in which he wants to become a different object or person.
In his ongoing ‘Identity Exchange’ series, he asks workers from different professions if he can wear their clothes while they stand next to him in their underwear. The works at first glance seem light-hearted but, as critic Zhu Qi puts it in a book about the artist’s work, ‘it is through clothes that Cang Xin seems to have entered into the bodies of other through a symbolic act, a modern approach to the traditional concept of souls travelling between bodies.’
An exhibition of photographs from Cang Xin’s ‘Identity Exchange’ series will take place in May at the Red Mansion Foundation, 46 Portland Place, London W1B 1NF. For further information please visit the foundation’s website.