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A Prophecy & Metaphor: Wang Huangsheng's Breathe IN/OUT & Diary of an Epidemic
May 18, 2020

3812 artist Wang Huangsheng created a new installation, performance and video work titled Breathe IN/OUT, which will be shown at his solo exhibition at Osthaus-Museum Hagen, Hagen from 15 August to 22 September 2020 and at Long Museum, Shanghai (dates to be announced). Wang recorded this prophetic and metaphorical performance video in 2019, in which he beat the oxygen tanks like drums and traversed the space from one to the next, making the shaking tanks resonated with the breathless breathing till the bell tolls.

Since early February 2020, Wang has created a new series Diary of an Epidemic, to record his thoughts and feelings during the Coronavirus outbreak. 3812 Gallery invited Wang to share his new series with gauze and ink:


Wang Huangsheng, Diary of an Epidemic 20200206 (detail), 2020, Ink rubbing on paper, 100 × 68 cm


3812: What motivated you to create such a diary series?

Wang Huangsheng: During the pandemic I have had a myriad of thoughts and feelings, and pondered on what art could achieve in the face of such a turbulent virus outbreak. I believe the only option is to act and express the emotions of the struggle, fragility, trauma, and to cherish the caring nature of life. As the situation changes every day, I decided to document my constantly changing emotions and thoughts day by day.


Wang Huangsheng, Diary of an Epidemic 20200214, 2020, Ink rubbing on paper, 65 × 46 cm


3812: You have reapplied the approach of rubbing on paper with gauze and ink. How does it help to express your theme?

Wang Huangsheng: In fact, I have been working on the theme of the fragility of life against social violence and the viruses. I have used barbed wire, glass, gauze, and oxygen cylinders to create works, each of which has shown their relationship with life and themes such as conflicts, struggles, protection, healing and so on. My latest solo exhibition "Wang Huangsheng: Breathe IN / OUT", which was due to open on 16th February at Shanghai Long Museum, has become a prophecy and metaphor when breathing has become a public health crisis. In the face of the virus outbreak at this time, from which I witnessed the impermanence and resilience of humanity, the helplessness and determination of common people, and the resistance and devotion of many righteous and selfless souls, I hope to express the mixed feelings of sorrow, helplessness, confrontation, elapsing, caring and healing through the method of rubbing with ink and gauze.


Wang Huangsheng, Diary of an Epidemic 20200213, 2020, Ink rubbing on paper, 138 × 69 cm


3812: When did you start creating this series? Will you continue the creation on a daily basis until the epidemic is over?

Wang Huangsheng: The Diary of an Epidemic series started on 2nd February. In fact, I also created another series Small Objects for Epidemic Prevention and made relevant notes of what have happened during the epidemic. Recently, as the epidemic appeared to be under control (in China), I stopped creating the series on a daily basis.


Wang Huangsheng's Chuang/He 20200205 was sold in an online charity auction on 16 February 2002. The funds it raises will be donated to the Beijing United Charity Foundation to provide supplies for the frontline medics. 

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