Xing Xin

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Xing Xin
Born (1981-05-25) May 25, 1981 (age 37)
Known forPerformance Art
WebsiteXing Xin's Art Blog

Xing Xin, (Chinese 幸鑫; born 25 May 1981, in Chongqing, China), is a contemporary Chinese artist based in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, involved in installation and performance art.[1][2] Xing Xin started as a performance artist in 2003, with an academic background in sculpture, and is currently teaching performance art, video art, and installation in Sichuan Fine Arts Institute.[3][4]

Selected early works[edit]

Xing Xin embarked on his journey as a performance artist from the year 2003. His earlier works are mostly themed with imprisonment and enfranchisement. He reveals and introspects into his inner-self and state of mind with the accustomed imprisonment bestowed upon by assorted almighty powers.[5]

Kids of Workers[edit]

Kids of Workers (Chinese: 《工人的孩子》) was created in 2007 in Chengdu, China, where he welded and sealed himself in a cage which was hung on a tree clustered by flowers. Thereafter within the next 19 and half hours, he cut out an exit on his own with a piece of saw and freed himself.[6]

Later in 2008, this work was permanently collected by Macau Museum of Art, and won him a ticket to create a new piece in the 53rd Venice Biennale in Macao Pavilion.[2][7]

My Hand Caressed My Head in Cage for Three Days and Three Nights[edit]

My Hand Caressed My Head in Cage for Three Days and Three Nights (Chinese: 《我的手抚摸着笼子里的头,三天三夜》) was created in 2008, where his assistant welded and sealed his head and right hand in an iron cage, and he lived for three days and three nights with another assistant's tending.[8]

Send XingXin under Escort[edit]

Send XingXin under Escort (Chinese: 《押运幸鑫》) was created in 2008. He was welded and sealed in an iron cage, packed in a wooden box, and "delivered" as a cargo from Chengdu to Beijing under formal procedures of the logistic company without being noticed. After 2,300 miles' travel in automobile, when the "cargo" arrived in Beijing, the co-operator cut the iron cage and set him free.[9]

The Black Box[edit]

The Black Box (Chinese: 《黑匣子》) was created in 2009 during the 53rd Venice Biennale. Xing Xin asked the co-operator to weld and seal himself in an iron box with the inner space of less than 1.5 m3, and counted the number of characters in the "nine-year compulsory education" textbooks everyday. (The pattern was: to count the characters of each row and record the numbers, add up the numbers in each page, finally sum up the total number of characters in the whole book, and then move on to the next book.) During the process when he was in the iron box, the box was installed in a motorboat, and cruised the canals in Venice for exhibition. The viewers on bank could see the entire installation consisted of the motorboat, iron box, and frames, as well as his situation inside the iron box through the monitors on the box.[10]

Selected later works[edit]

After completion of The Black Box, Xing Xin enfranchised his works from the enclosed space, and started to focus on his and his peers' practical situations.[5]

Free and Easy Wandering[edit]

Free and Easy Wandering (Chinese: 《逍遥游》) was created in 2008, based on the philosophical thoughts of Zhuangzi. In this work, Xing Xin lay on bed, floating on Yangtze River at dawn. He drifted to the waters with the bed, and the work ended at dusk.

Meditation on Floating Ice[edit]

From June 8 to 30 in 2010, Xing Xin did another grand project, Meditation on Floating Ice (Chinese: 《吾与浮冰》). He took a team of 7, including himself and a documentary crew led by Chinese filmmaker Cao Yang, and drove from Chengdu to the headwaters of Yangtze River (Jianggudiru Glacier on the border between Qinghai and Tibet) and collected a chunk of ice. Preserved in portable refrigerating equipment, the ice was sent in the cross country vehicles with the fastest speed to the marine outfall of Yangtze River in Shanghai, and gradually melted on the East China Sea.

During the process, the team documented the rural areas to the west of China, erotic cultures in Tibetan areas, and the remains and reviving of the city after Yushu earthquake, as well as the prosperity of the cities to the east of China, and the grand 2010 Shanghai Expo.[11][12][13]

Personal statement of the work[edit]

In recent years fierce debates over climate concerns have been heard across the entire world. These issues over low carbon emission living, low carbon economies, and low carbon tariffs, etc., have led to constant political and economic disputes between impoverished nations, developing countries and developed countries. The frequency and intensity of listening to this discussion inevitably made me consider the topic deeply.

Two centuries ago the Industrial Revolution brought to mankind an unprecedented acceleration to the experience of life and altered our original way of life forever. While indulging ourselves in the bliss of this acceleration, mankind has wandered off course and into a maze, and the danger of this excess is unquestionably demonstrated by these increased carbon emissions!

Today, more and more people around the world agree that man is only a part of nature, not above the natural laws. And they have come to realize that we are just few drops of water in the ocean; if we faunt our superiority and raise a storm, we will just accelerate the process of evaporation and vanish into thin air like so much dust.

The Yangtze River is derived from the mountain glacier. The ice and snow mel into streams, and streams become torrents, rushing into the East China Sea. Afterwards, the currents of warm air take the water vapour back to the mountain, and the process starts all over again. It is the water naturally flowing in cycles that silently bears the mysterious taoism of "climate" and "acceleration"!

Therefore, I've decided to attempt to alter the natural water cycle on land. Together with a crew of other artists and myself, we will drive to the headwaters of the Yangtze River (the Jianggendiru glacier on the border of Qinghai Province and Tibet) to collect a chunk of ice, and take it to the Yangtze River's marine outfall. The ice will slowly melt and dissolve into the East China Sea. This may seem quite ridiculous, like the old Chinese story of "the Foolish Old Man, who removed the mountains". Even so, we hope the audience can get something from the half foolish efforts of a bunch of regular guys (and gal).

How Many Hair My Father Owns on His 59th Birthday[edit]

Compared to the other grand projects of Xing Xin's, his work How Many Hair My Father Owns on His 59th Birthday (Chinese: 《父亲五十九岁生日时还拥有多少根头发》) performed in 2011 in A4 Contemporary Arts Center in Chengdu looks quite "simple": one table, two chairs, and a set of laboratory apparatus. However, it drew wide attention from the Chinese audience.

In the traditional Chinese philosophy of Confucianism, there's something quite special about family, and the relationship between father and son. This work is quite a wake-up call for the Chinese society in modern days.[14]

In the interview, Xing Xin says, "I only counted 3,000 hairs today. With the estimation of 60,000 in total, it might take me more than 20 days to finish this work. But I will hold on to the last, and forever keep these hairs. Of course it is not necessary for my father to keep me company. He has already been sitting there for 3 hours. It is too hard for him."

Speaking of how this work is conceived, Xing Xin says, "in recently years, I suddenly realized the aging of my parents, especially their headful of grey. It also made me realize the ruthlessness of time, and the transiency of life. Therefore, I wanted to express such feeling with a work. It happens that my father is having his 59th birthday this month, and I hope to give him something to remember by with this performance." He also says that, "in fact my father doesn't understand what I do, or what significance this work will bring. But with his trust to his son, as a father, he has shown great support to this work. Moreover, from the start to end, he never questioned me about the significance of this work, and I'm deeply moved."[15]

2011, I Exhibit Myself In A Western Exhibition[edit]

2011, I Exhibit Myself In A Western Exhibition (Chinese: 《2011年,在一个西方的展览上展出我自己》) was created in 2011 in Personal Structures exhibition in Palazzo Bembo, a collateral event of the 54th Venice Biennale,[2][16] in which he was imprisoned daily during exhibition opening hours in a small cell within the palazzo; naked to the waist, he wore only a pair of white tailored trousers - his shirt and jacket hung on the wall.

Personal statement of the work[edit]

I name this work, "2011, I exhibit myself in a western exhibition": in the exhibition PERSONAL STRUCTURES, as part of the 54th Biennale di Venezia 2011, I exhibit myself. In the scene, I’m locked in a small, empty room, behind iron “prison” bars. I’m only wearing tailored trousers, being half naked to the waist; my tailored shirt and coat are tidy hung on the wall. Every day from 10 am to 7 pm (opening hours of the exhibition at Palazzo Bembo), I stay here, doing nothing. People are free to look at me, a Chinese artist, a Chinese. At 7 pm, I put on my tailored shirt and coat and leave my room. People are still free to look at me, I’m still the artwork itself. The next morning, at 10 am, I’ll enter the room again. This action will span 30 days.

This is a work of simplicity, as what I do is simply to exhibit myself. However, it is saturated with my current thought about ‘living space’ and my own existence today.

Flourishing and prosperous China is today. Considering the past century, hardly anyone could resist the urge of going with the favorable wind of the current economy. With the continuing Reformation and Opening Policy, the world economy battles to gradually take a place in this nation, China, which for decades had applied planned economy policy. The ups and downs of the stock market and real estate constantly feed people’s appetite for money, while the accelerating inflation triggers their discussions and participation on “economics”! (Hereby, I don’t mean to question the rightness of reformation and opening, with which I actually agree, our Chinese society, ideology, etc. will therefore become more humanistic.)

As you can imagine: when even the chitchat on every family’s dinner table—I mean EVERY family—were occupied with investment, rewards, and benefits, where could we still make our serenity? The schools? Of course not! In these times, professors deservedly cast their green eye to the colleagues oversees.

As a “human”, I cannot agree that only this is the value of my life! Knowing this, makes me feel depressed! Therefore, I chose my life, chose to be an artist! I fight, fight with the unseen. I’m perplexed, by my family, my lovers, and my friends!

As an artist, I constantly feel lost and I feel I am facing horror! I’m lost, in the Chinese contemporary art world, which only seems to be dealing with the total, instead of treasuring any individuals to light the world. I believe: I am human. In my eyes, the flourishing of contemporary art is nothing more than a mixture between the curiosity of the Westerners and the speculations of the New Rich in the East!

In this society where humanity encounters economics, in these times when speculation invades, I force to engage myself with the Allies: “The fact is, that since the moment that I was born, I only wish to fight my way through the noise; thus to become free and easy, until my whole life will be over, will be lit!”[17]

Pushing My Car and Galloping in the City[edit]

In 2012, when the Diaoyudao incident was still feverish, some extreme and angry citizens smashed and burnt Japanese cars in streets, Xing Xin pushed his car with sophisticated antecedents across the city, bearing the name Pushing My Car and Galloping in the City: Approx. 30 Miles to the East (Chinese: 《推着汽车在城市里奔跑——至西向东约30公里》).[18][19]


Some day in the August of 2012, the car couldn’t start suddenly. It wasn’t the first time for such similar problems. I had faced plenty of problems since I bought it that I couldn’t even express with words. But the summer was too hot for me to deal with yet another problem. Therefore, it was abandoned by the street until October.

Some other day when I had to take a taxi again, an image suddenly appeared in my head: against the autumn wind, I solitarily pushed the car across the city, all the way to a place somewhere. Therefore, conceived the work Pushing My Car and Galloping in the City: Approx. 30 Miles to the East.[20]


From the spot where the car is now parked, with the shortest and most practicable route I push the car to the special maintenance center. The spot where the car is now park (which is also my home) is in the northwest corner of the city, while the special maintenance center is in the southeast corner of the city (which is the only special maintenance center in the city because my car is a niche model). The linear distance between the two spots are approximately 30 miles. I presume to send the car to the special maintenance center non-stop, with regular diet, regardless of the weather.

Antecedents of the car[edit]

This is my first car in life, a three-door version SUV left the factory in 2005. Its body is pure yellow, and the inner space consists of black and red. I bought it on a second-hand car market in the middle of 2008. I can’t tell it is Made-in-China or Made-in-Japan. It is not because when I bought it the former owner had already changed the original car logo into another Japanese car logo under which trademark has another car identical in appearance but different in performance with this one, but because that the Chinese manufacturer of this car has used Japanese production line and pattern die to produce the car almost identical to Japanese car in China, which means the car is not some product surrogated by Japanese company to manufacture or sell in China. Considering the relatively tense relationship between China and Japan recently, I think I have to make some assistive clarification about the individual case of the car.

Stand-Up Waiting in the Drainage Pipe[edit]

March 28, 2013, Xing Xin attended Tomorrow Contemporary Sculpture Award, and exhibited his sculpture/performance art work, Stand-Up Waiting in the Drainage Pipe (Chinese: 《站在下水道管里等待》).

The audience were intrigued by Xing Xin's special "sculpture", which is highly unusual to be seen in a sculpture exhibition. The curator believes that, the notion of sculpture should be dynamic, and it is not just about stiff and confirmed objects.[21]


March 3, 2013, in Chengdu MOCA (Chengdu Museum of Contemporary Art), the work Stand-Up Waiting in the Drainage Pipe for the Advent of 32 Hours Later according to the original plan was supposed to stand in a drainage pipe for 32 hours. However, 47 minutes after I was put into the pipe I could stand it any longer. It wasn't because of my lack of strength or willpower, but that during the preparation I ignored the principle of ventilation. I directly deposited the drainage pipe on the floor and sealed its end, and it caused the carbon dioxide couldn't be discharged from the space of 40 cm diameter and 200 cm high, which is barely enough for a person to stand in. And eventually it nearly killed me.

During the last 30 minutes in the pipe when I felt lack of oxygen and waited like for a lifetime to be rescued, my head was filled with the images of the rescue scenes during the "May 12 Wenchuan earthquake", that and various coalmine mishap scenes. At that moment, I think I finally understood the "fragility of life"! I ceaselessly told myself, "Breathe! Breathe! I could be out just a little bit later..."

Finally, I got out from the drainage pipe which I could never escape all by myself. I feel really really lucky that I am still alive like all the other people who came out from any catastrophes!

Again today, I stand in the drainage pipe which almost killed me. It might be out of sensationalization purposes, or maybe because of my faces, or that I simply want to conquer it. Anyway, I decide to unravel to the people the course of my mind and heart.[1]

Declaration of performance art[edit]

In China, the term performance art is usually demonized and the practice of performance art in China verges on semi-legal and illegal. In order to set straight the development course of performance art in China, Xing Xin publicly announced his Declaration of Performance Art on August 26, 2012.[4][22][23]


I firmly believe that, human behaviours guided by anything else but art could in no way be called performance art. Human behaviors guided by art may be just artistic behaviour also.

Performance art is not simply a display of behaviours in the name of art. Art workers' daily or non-daily behaviors can not be included into the perimeter of performance art. I personally contend that any behaviour accords with the following circumstances could not be called performance art.


Any event including war, massacre, assassination, threatening abuse, revenge, and etc. in order to defend one's own interests is political violence. It's not art, let alone performance art.

Performance art works could include political discussions into its content, but it is never political event itself.


A parade, demonstration, or protest, is the parade, demonstration, or protest itself. It won't change its property with artist's participation. It won't change its property with anyone's nudity or blending in any aesthetic elements. Such events have nothing to do with performance art.

Performance art works could include parade, demonstration, or protest into its content, but it shouldn't be as simple as directly participating in it.


Body painting, body photography, body runway show, body street dance, living sculpture, acrobatics, or any peculiar-looking behaviors in coordination with activities such as opening of real estate, auto expo, market promotion, and holiday celebrations, are nothing but shows, not performance art.

Performance art could reference or use the forms of body painting, body photography, body runway show, body street dance, living sculpture, and acrobatics to present the contents of the work, but it shouldn't make a show of the show on purpose.


The process of the already categorized painting, plastic arts, photography, performing arts, music, and competitive sports could not be seen straightly as performance art.

Performance art could reference or use any techniques and/or forms from categories such as fine art, art, sport, and etc. to supplement its own creation.


Subcultural behaviors such as homosexuality, Sadism & Masochism, body piercing, tattoo, autosadism, autotomy, and etc. are only about individual and personal fondness and sexual orientations. Such behaviors do not directly connect to performance art.

Performance art works could include cultures such as homosexuality, S & M, body piercing, and tattoo into its content, but behaviors presented by these cultures do not stand for performance art.


Personal privacy divulgence, deliberately and publicly manufactured spoofing photos or videos are just appetisers for universal voyeuristic desire and curiosity, but the incident itself is not performance art.

The subject of a performance art work could be about hot issues, and it could be presented as parody, but it should not be a parodistic action just in order to seek public attention.


Wearing a wig, mustache, or plait, or completely shaved head, no matter how peculiar the art worker's appearance is, or how he or she responds to questions with mystifying answers, they are just kicking up a cloud of dust to get public attention. Such behaviours are not performance art.

Performance art work is not about the art worker's peculiar appearance, neither is their incoherent style of conversation, or any flashy showmanship with a combination of both.


Homicide, robbery, sexual abuse, and any other crime committed on others are only malefaction. It can't be regarded as performance art due to the criminal offender's may-or-may-not-be-role of an artist, or its bizarre and eccentric methods of crime.

The content of a performance art work could be about reflecting on crime, but the malefaction itself is not performance art.[24]


The video of Xing Xin's Declaration of Performance Art is available here.

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • June 20 - August 7, 2009: VENICE-ON THE OTHER SIDE – the third scene of The Black Box in the 53rd Venice Biennale Exhibition, A4 Contemporary Arts Center, Chengdu, China[25]
  • July 17 - August 15, 2010: Meditation on Floating Ice, Art Labor Gallery, Shanghai, China[26]
  • June 11 - July 8, 2011: Youth Artist Experimental Season 1st Round Exhibition - Xing Xin: 2007 - 2011, A4 Contemporary Arts Center, Chengdu, China[27]


  • Macao Museum of Art, Kids of Workers

Critical and Academic Studies[edit]

  • Personal Structures: Time Space Existence Number One, by Peter Lodermeyer, Karlyn De Jongh, and Sarah Gold, published by DuMont, Germany 2009, ISBN 978-3-8321-9279-2


  1. ^ a b 幸鑫, 百度百科.
  2. ^ a b c Xing Xin
  3. ^ Xing Xin Bio, ARTslant, New York.]
  4. ^ a b Sichuan Fine Arts Institute Conducts "Exorcism" for Performance Art, Artron News.
  5. ^ a b 第七届AAC艺术中国年度青年艺术家初评入围:幸鑫, Artron News.
  6. ^ Kids of Workers video
  7. ^ Inward Gazes: Exhibition of Documentaries of Chinese Performance Arts 2008, Macau Museum of Art.
  8. ^ Three Artists Chasing for the Annual Grand Prize, Fenghuang News.
  9. ^ Article about Xing Xin's Solo Exhibition in Chengdu, Sichuan News Network.
  10. ^ Participation in Venice Biennale, Xing Xin Build His Black Box on Boat[permanent dead link], Chengdu Business Daily.
  11. ^ Proposal of Meditation on Floating Ice, Artintern.
  12. ^ the first two days of Meditation on Floating Ice, Artintern.
  13. ^ Artist Xing Xin's Guide on His Meditation on Floating Ice Documentation Exhibited in Suzhou True Color Museum, iOnly.
  14. ^ Counting, How Many Grey Hairs Father Left, Chengdu Business Daily.
  15. ^ Quite a Special Performance Art Work: Son Counts "How Many Hair His Father Owns" Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, West China City Daily.
  16. ^ PERSONAL STRUCTURES 54TH International Art Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia,]
  17. ^ Xing Xin, 2011 I Exhibit Myself in a Western Exhibition
  18. ^ Anti-Japanese Protests Flare in China Over Disputed Islands, Bloomburg Businessweek.
  19. ^ Anti-Japanese Demonstrations in China, imgur.
  20. ^ Pushing My Car and Galloping in the City: Approx. 30 Miles to the East,
  21. ^ Coverage Issued by China Sculpture Institute.
  22. ^ Controversy over New Performance Art Course in Sichuan Fine Arts Institute.
  23. ^ Artist Sentenced Re-education through Labor for One Year for Performance Art of Sexual Behavior, Beijing Youth Daily.
  24. ^ Declaration of Performance Art,
  25. ^ VENICE-ON THE OTHER SIDE[permanent dead link], A4 Contemporary Arts Center
  27. ^ YEAS 1ST ROUND EXHIBITION[permanent dead link], A4 Contemporary Arts Center