(Chinese, B. 1954)
Untitled (Rue Carpeaux, Paris)
signed in Chinese and dated '93.2.12' (middle right); signed in Pinyin 'HUANG YONG PING' and dated '12.02.1993' (lower right)
emulsion paint on washing machine
95 x 60 x 48 cm . (37 3/8 x 23 5/8 x 18 7/8 in.)
Executed in 1993
Hans Ulrich Obrist, C. Putman, Huang Yong Ping: An Immanence, Dialogue between Huang Yong Ping and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Paris, France, 1999 (illustrated).
Fujian Art Publishing House, Contemporary Art and Cultural Transformation: Huang Yong Ping, China, 2003 (illustrated, pp. 85-86).
Michel Nuridsany, Editions Flammarion, China Art Now, Paris, France, 2004 (Illustrated, p. 39).
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France, Magiciens de la terre exhibition, 18 May-14 August 1989 (different edition exhibited).

Brought to you by

Eric Chang
Eric Chang

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Book washing is somewhat similar to Wittgenstein's view of language. He once said: "Now and then, some wordings should be removed from language and be sent to be washed-and after that, they can be brought back into communication." What I do can be summed up as the following: "washing" is both the method and the goal, because I don't believe that language can be brought back into communication after having been washed. In other words, communication is in reality a "dirty form." In addition, "book washing" is not about making culture cleaner; rather, it tries to make its dirtiness more evident to the eye.

-- "To Beat the West with the East and to Beat the East with the West," Huang Yong Ping interviewed by Hou Hanru, August 1992.

Huang Yong Ping was the leader of Xiamen Dada in the mid-1980s, an artistic movement in China that pursued the most subversive and radical conceptual art practice during China's revolutionary avant-garde art movement. Their aim is to question and challenge the preconception of authorship, language and knowledge in relation to the rationalist, modernist definition of art and the related institutional system, as well as, more profoundly, the discursive system. Huang proposed that language has no claim of authority in its description of reality and moreover leads to permanent oppression. Thus, on December 1st, 1987, he proceeded to wash two books in a washing machine for two minutes. The two books were Wang Bomin's History of Chinese Painting and Herbert Read's A Concise History of Modern Painting. A radical attempt to subvert, challenge and resolve a long debated issue on the integrity of such categories as traditional and modern, East and West. The washing machine thus becomes the symbolic conceptual vehicle and a physical tool to execute this radical idea. On the exterior of the machine, Huang has inscribed "Two years ago I found this washing machine on rue Carpeaux, but it is not functional. I've used in once for washing clothes and once for washing books. Now it is the time to throw it away, herby noted down." Huang ironically dismisses the machine, and it becomes the documentation that survives his conceptual gesture, a symbol of Huang's artistic practice, and his desire to liberate us from the constraints of our languages, an artistic imagination aimed to confront in the accepted system of logic and value. Thus, this lot captures the most radical and notorious practice in Huang's early career, among the most influential and significant in the history of Chinese avant-garde art movement.


More from Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale)

View All
View All