“Clothing Project”, exhibited in September at this year’s Photo Shanghai, is a work created by one of Taiwan’s very few conceptual performance artists, Shi Jin-Hua. This project was originally conceived when he was an artist in residence at MoMA PS1 in New York, to measure the perimeter of the art institute’s building.
During the first phase of the project, he collected clothes donated from some of PS1’s staff and other visiting artists. He then numbered and tagged each article of clothing and put everything on one article at a time, photographing every step of the whole process: 77 photos for 77 pieces of clothing. In the second stage, he cut the cloth from all the clothing into strips, and stitched together a very long “cloth tape measure”. In the third stage, he used this fabric “tape measure” to measure the perimeter of PS1, which turned out to be 21 pieces of clothing.
Clearly, for Shi Jin-Hua, the importance of this measurement isn’t in an abstract mathematical figure or hasn’t any kind of academic purpose. Jin-Hua has instead transformed the act of measuring into a corporeal sensation and an expressive, artistic act. His rather unique methodology isn’t limited only to “Clothing Project”, but often recurs in a lot of his other works, such as “Hugging Project”, “Pencil Walking”, “Searching Center and Boundary”, and so on.
Born in 1964, Shi Jin-Hua now lives and works as an artist in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. When he was 17 years old, he started taking insulin injections to control his blood glucose level. Usually when one is first introduced to an artist’s work, his or her medical condition isn’t usually discussed. But when it comes to Shi Jin-Hua, one cannot fail to mention his diabetic condition. Because his life has been inseparable from the “body”, and the daily acts of “documenting” and “measuring”, much of the work he has made as an artist has centered around these three key words.
As a diabetic who regularly needs to keep a log of his body’s glucose levels every day, Shi Jin-Hua has also applied the idea of measuring data to try to interpret some of the other things he encounters in life. Through a medical condition, which also gave birth to his art, he has found an opportunity to share something of great personal value and meaning from his own life into his work.