Her works are strange and provocative – she’ll employ a tampon as a skateboard, prescribe artificial nerve stimulation as a means to create mystic states of consciousness, or even choreograph dance sequences using electrical shocks on the corpses of dissected frogs. Born in 1984, new media artist Lu Yang offers a matter-of-fact response to questions about her controversial works: “My works will often incorporate themes of death and illness, but aren’t these things that all living things experience?”
The open discussion of death and dying have strangely become taboo subjects in our world. This cultural norm puzzles Lu Yang, who says her befuddlement is similar to how others are unable to understand why she confronts these taboo subjects. Meshing concepts from science, medicine, art, and religion, Lu Yang creates abormal worlds such as Delusional Mandala, a multimedia work that explores nervous system stimulation and thought control as an examination of death and dying. Much like this project, many of her other works also incorporate a multidisciplinary approach to support her ideas and theories.
Lu Yang is quite introverted and anxious about social interactions. “Normal” activities like traveling, socializing, or engaging in romantic relationships don’t appeal to her. Instead, she immerses herself in sixteen-hour work days. “Perhaps my brain is just wired to create,” she explains. “Working on a computer has a lot of advantages for me; it complements my personality. I’m an impulsive person, so I’m able to execute my ideas quickly through technology. […] Computers allow me to stay at home and just work. I’m happy that I’m able to be a recluse and also be able to support myself.”
Lu Yang’s creative work has not only given her a passion to work for, but has also brought her new perspectives. Her UterusMan project was created in collaboration with an asexual Japanese individual who succeeded in the removal of their reproductive organs. For the project, they created a sexless superhero that uses an armored uterus shield and reproductive superpowers to defeat enemies. Doing away with traditional concepts of gender, the animation incorporates reproductive science through a groundbreaking and unconventional way.
The central theme of many of Lu Yang’s works is an examination of human nature or lack thereof. For example, dead frogs are able to dance when stimulated by electric shock, but this kind of display is completely devoid of human nature. Speaking on the distinctions between animal and man, Lu Yang says, “There are definitely differences. For example, the instinct of morality. But it really depends on what perspective you take. If you look at the distinctions through a human-centric perspective, you can find all kinds of differences, but if you look at it from the perspective of the universe, then maybe there aren’t any differences at all.”
Lu Yang’s work forces us to reconsider our humanism and our preconceived beliefs. She views the world through a detached perspective – for her, art is never done just for the sake of art. “I like to think of these things as works or creative endeavors, I really don’t like to use the word ‘art.’” As for what inspires her, Lu Yang cites a diverse influences, including the likes of manga artist Hiroya Oku, film director James Wan, screenwriter Kankurō Kudō, Japanese writer Osamu Dazai, the theories of behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, and various religious philosophies. According to her, “The great works that they have created assist me in building a more prolific inner world. They’ll let you come to terms with the feeling of shame you experience in your shell as a human being. It’s fulfilling for me to explore the inner worlds that I’ve created. Through this perspective, the world is a wonderful place.”
Event: Lu Yang – Encephalon Heaven
Exhibition Dates: October 28, 2017 ~ February 11, 2018
Opening Hours: Tuesday ~ Saturday 10:30am ~ 6pm (Last entry at 5:30pm)
D-06, 798 Art Zone
No. 2 Jiuxianqiao Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing
People’s Republic of China
展期: 2017年10月28日 —— 2018年2月11日
时间: 周二至周日 早上10:30 至晚上 6:00（最后入馆时间下午 5:30）