“Chinese Artist Defends Fetus Artwork”

Another headline I couldn’t make up if I wanted to. We’ve all seen the works of art that include toilets, a bottles of human fluids with a crucifix floating in it, and even a painintg of the Virgin Mary adorned with elephant dung. But a Chinese artist stitching together the real head of a fetus and body of a bird and displaying it in a Swiss museum — this may be a true first.

A Chinese artist who grafted the head of a human fetus onto the body of a bird has defended his work as art after a Swiss museum withdrew the piece from an exhibit.

“It’s precisely because I respect all life that I did this,” artist Xiao Yu said Tuesday. He said the bird and fetus “died because there was something wrong with them. … I thought putting them together like this was a way for them to have another life.”

Swiss museum visitor Adrien de Riedmatten, 29, filed a complaint on Monday with the district attorney of Bern, Switzerland, calling for an investigation into the piece, which was on display at the Bern Art Museum.

“I want to know where this baby comes from and if it was killed for this work,” de Riedmatten said. “We know about the problems of late-term abortions in China and we have the right to ask ourselves questions.”

The work was removed, curator Bernhard Fibicher said Tuesday, because museum directors didn’t want the controversy surrounding it to overshadow the rest of the “Mahjong” exhibit, which features avant-garde Chinese works from the last 25 years. The museum is planning an Aug. 22 symposium with artists, philosophers and ethics experts before deciding whether to re-exhibit the piece.

Xiao said he bought the head in 1999 for a few dollars from a man who was cleaning out a scientific exhibition hall. The glass bottle in which it came had a handwritten sticker identifying it as a female specimen from the 1960s. According to Xiao, it had no name or cause of death.

I won’t get into the discussion of what constitutes “art,” as it’s one of those can-of-worms topics to which there is no answer. Let me just say for the record, however, that this goes over the top, and I wouldn’t want it in my living room.

The Discussion: 8 Comments

This case is a lot more gross and tasteless but the whole idea reminds me of Merman.


August 11, 2005 @ 3:21 pm | Comment

They are a bunch of pompous wankers + buggers + lunatics.

Recall some years ago, Channel 4 broadcast a programme about some Chinese “aritists” performing “art” by nibbling dead fetus.

What amazed me was that sane people could pay attention to their madness and made a programme to broadcast in UK.

Such people would have been prosecuted in other countries. They are total fraudsters.

That museum should be fined. Those “artists” should be arrested in China.

August 11, 2005 @ 3:24 pm | Comment

I wouldn’t put it in my living room either, but I disagree with calling the “artist” a lunatic.

I do think the “artist” was quite creative and had good intention as he said “I thought putting them together like this was a way for them to have another life”.

Of cource, whether the society could stomach such a piece of “art” is another question.

August 11, 2005 @ 3:50 pm | Comment

How about this: make a small pyramid of dogshit and put a plastic Mao Zedong figure at the top. Seed the dogshit with fly eggs so that there are maggots when it’s ready to exhibit.
Very avant-garde, guaranteed to provoke controversy and get your name in the newspapers. It’s already worked with Catholic symbols, why not go for the king hit and outrage 1.3 billion people.

August 11, 2005 @ 4:12 pm | Comment

In terms of the creator, how could you tell the difference between an “artist” or criminal / lunatic, if such a thing were found in a litter bin and no one told you it was an “art”?

Such “art” is anything but creative. These Chinese loosers got “inspiration” from some rotten rubbish of others’ work long time ago to make a sensation.

This is no art. Defiling, mutilating and even tasting the body of feutus is NOT art but disgusting and perverse crime.

August 11, 2005 @ 4:20 pm | Comment


I wouldn’t advise it in China:

A 1989 protester who helped splatter Mao Zedong’s portrait with red paint during the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement has been tortured to the point of mental collapse in jail, a fellow activist has told Radio Free Asia (RFA).


August 11, 2005 @ 9:32 pm | Comment

Conrad, you never, ever cease to amaze me, despite your always being wrong on US domestic politics. Thank you for that great and terrifying comment. Wow.

August 11, 2005 @ 9:33 pm | Comment

Here is where I stand after reading the Link provide by Conrad.

The story is aboslutely horrible. However on one hand I’m normally skeptical about stories like that in the western media since besides economic news, nothing good is coming out in the west for China. And if I were born in the west, I would absolutly think China is a horrible place to live based on the news reports, which since I grew up in China, I knew it wasn’t the case.

On the other hand, I do welcome criticism on China’s human right issues, since if it is true, it need to be raised with Chinese government to see what could be done to prevent it, and if it is false, it could still serve as a warning to not to do it in the future.

August 11, 2005 @ 11:01 pm | Comment

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