Photographed by Cai Qing 9.11 2001
Hug New York
From 2001 to 2007, I had the privilege of living in Manhattan, New York. Upon arrival, I settled in the scholar building of Rockefeller University on York Avenue, 63rd Street, East Uptown, where I resided until my departure for Singapore. During my time in New York, I experienced firsthand the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The aftermath of that day lingered, and even after returning to China a year later, I could still detect the WTO dust in my suitcase.
Despite my illness, I managed to engage in performance art during my stay in New York. Notably, I produced a series called “Calling for Peace” related to 9/11, “The Blind Man Touching the Cow” on Wall Street, and the one-day action “Worshiping New York” completed on the streets and Times Square. In 2007, I created a masterpiece entitled “Watch Tower,” expressing my views on current affairs in an artistic way. This project took me to Kassel, Germany, to implement a peripheral action art piece. Later that year, I was invited to participate in the first Asian Art Fair in New York, where I showcased “Watch Tower.” This led to an opportunity to create a New York version of the piece, allowing me to return to the city I had grown so fond of, even after I had left in August.
Now, 15 years later, as I return to New York, I am struck by how little the city has changed. It still feels like home to me, with a timeless quality that is hard to describe. Even a subway ticket I saved from years ago is still valid and can be used! I am excited to participate in “Immersive·Live Art Tour 8” in New York, following the successful “Overlapping Kassel-Live Art Tour 7” in Germany in June 2022. There is a sense of nostalgia and excitement for what is to come. I hope to connect with performance artists from around the world, and to continue sharing my love of performance art and New York City
art party in Manhattan
The above summary of my relationship with New York only scratches the surface of my experience. I arrived in New York at a time when I was in poor physical health, and the city became a place of healing for me. Over the course of seven years, I experienced ups and downs in my health, but persevered through the pain and continued to better myself. Due to my bad legs and feet, I always carry a folding stool with me, which has become a symbol of my identity.
In 1993, I visited New York for the first time as a tourist and stayed with my wife’s aunt, whose younger brother was also studying in the city. While exploring Soho, I stumbled upon the Soho branch of MoMA and saw the double solo exhibition of two Chinese artists, Chen Zhen and Huang Yongping, who were living in Paris and had their work arranged by the French Ministry of Culture. This exhibition was likely the first Chinese contemporary art showcase in the United States.
Although I had to leave New York shortly after this exhibition, I was fortunate enough to discover a videotape of the exhibition a few years later in the old auction pile of the Soho branch. The video showed Chen Zhen’s creative process for his work, “United Nations,” as well as his interactions with reporters and audiences. Meanwhile, Huang’s piece, “Laundry Room,” required visitors to walk through a water-rolling device used for car washing. The owner of the Deitch Project, Mr. Deitch, sang praises for this duo exhibition and introduced their creations to the audience.
Thanks to Mr. Deitch’s connection with Chen Zhen, he later discovered Wang Du in Paris and gave him $5,000 to product his exhibition at the Deitch Project in New York. This led to Wang Du’s recommendation for the Venice Biennale, propelling his career forward.
The great thing about living in New York is that I can frequently host “art parties”, which are one-night art exhibitions. The top lobby on the 38th floor of the Rockefeller University’s scholar building, where I live, is a public space for residents’ families. By booking in advance, you can use this space for free. From the large glass room on the 38th floor on the Upper East Side, you can have a bird’s-eye view of Manhattan, which is why each art party attracts hundreds of people. Through these parties, I have met many people, including Eric Shiner, one of the curators of the first art party, who later became the editor-in-chief of Asian Art. I also have the opportunity to encounter famous artists by chance, and they are often approachable. In short, New York is full of inspiring things, such as frequent lecture opportunities with master artists.
After leaving New York, my wife would often attend genetics professional meetings there every two years, and I would happily accompany her. This gave me the opportunity to visit old friends and keep in touch with the city. During one of these visits in 2014, I was invited to a performance art workshop at an art fair curated by my architect friend Guy Reziciner. There, I met Cai Jiang, an animation artist from Sichuan who hadn’t returned to China in 35 years. I was amazed by his determination. Two years later, I invited him to hold a 37-year comeback exhibition in his hometown of Chongqing.
While living in New York, I delved into contemporary art, studying materials and related books, and attending many solo exhibitions and art fairs featuring contemporary art masters. Additionally, I conducted several performance art projects. Here are some of my works related to New York.
Cai Qing took pictures of the cityscape of New York from the bottom every 15 minutes during the implementation of “Worshiping New York” 2007.
In 2019, I began negotiations with Graces Exhibition Space in New York to host the “China Action” document exhibition in April 2020. However, due to the outbreak of the epidemic, the exhibition had to be postponed until the end of the year. Unfortunately, the epidemic continued to spread in the United States, and the exhibition had to be put on hold indefinitely.
As I prepare for my upcoming trip to New York in October 2022, I am excited to resume discussions with Grace Exhibition Space about potential collaboration projects. The pandemic has altered the course of human life and has presented unique challenges to the art world. Nonetheless, it has also brought new trends and developments to the creation and evolution of performance art. Consequently, we have decided to exhibit recent works first.
Although we had originally planned to showcase the “China Action” document exhibition, we have decided to introduce new elements and reschedule it for 2024. Therefore, I am looking forward to returning to New York to plan the International Live Performance Art Festival, which will take place in early September. I am eager to embrace New York once again and explore the city’s vibrant artistic scene.
In September 2023, I will conduct a live performance art tour in New York 8- Immersive. Cooperate with Grace Institute, use New York as the big stage, invite international performance artists to create and publish on site, and also include collective art creation projects in the art residence RoseKill.
Dr. Cai Qing is a multi-talented individual who excels in various areas of contemporary art, including performance art, curation, and art critique. He is also involved in education and regularly conducts workshops and courses on contemporary art, as well as publishes related materials.
1981-1984 Bachelor of Fine Art at China Academy of Fine Arts. 1989-2001 Lived in Germany. Advanced-study at Stuttgart Academy of Free Arts. 2001-2001-2007 Lived in New York. 2007-2011 Full-time Professor at School of Arts, Design and Media in NTU, Singapore. 2009 Awarded a scholarship as an elite doctoral student. 2011 Received the doctorate degree at China Academy of Fine Arts. 2015-2019 Full-time Professor and master supervisor of Experimental Art Academy at Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts. 2021 visiting professor at the School of Public Art at the China Academy of Fine Art.
Besides being an active conceptual and performance artist, Cai also has curated many art projects and exhibitions since 1998, including one of the most important underground art exhibitions in China: Trace of Existence, which he initiated and curated in 1989 in Beijing, in collaboration with Feng Boyi; Performance art show Construction before Deconstruction at Zhengzhou Shifo village in 2008; Parabiosis – a large scaled international contemporary art exhibition at Chongqing Yangzi River Art Museum in 2016; Art Action 1998-2018 as the China section curator at Inter Art Centre and Le Lieu Art Centre in Quebec in 2018; On going global project of Art Now Live Tour happens a few times annually in different locations around the world. Including the “Overlapping Kassel”- live art tour 8 completed last year during Documenta 15 in Kassel.
Along with his artistic practice, he has written and published many important art critiques and books, including Performance Art and Spiritual healing, which is the first and an unique publication on this subject so far in China, published by Beijing World Publishing Cooperation in 2012; Diary of Live Art, 2013 by Beijing World Publishing Cooperation; Experimental Art Practice – Live Art Overseas, 2017 by China Today Art Museum Publishing House.
Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, he remained focused on his work. With a sense of urgency to make the most of life, he channeled his energy into writing several new books on performance art, including “Sinking: Returning to the Underground,” “Attack from the Side,” “The Unforgettable Gathering,” and more. In addition, he leveraged his international network to organize exhibitions and edited numerous books on interactive art projects.
Talking about my spare time, it can be said that it is really monotonous, as if I have no hobbies other than art, and I have nothing to do except painting. But later, when I started contemporary art, especially in recent years, I concentrated on the creation and writing of performance art, and seldom or never painted. I don’t know any musical instruments, but I love singing, humming old songs from time to time. I don’t like reading very much, read some poems, and occasionally write some poems that pop out of my mind. Life in Singapore is very regular. Every day at 4:30 in the afternoon, I go downstairs to swim. I do two abdominal push-ups and sit-ups at the end of the break, 20 times each time. I started to make dinner at 6 o’clock. Cooking and stir-frying is a relief from a day’s work. I only use salt, a little soy sauce and garlic for cooking, without any other seasonings. We have a light appetite. My wife got off work before 7 o’clock, and we had dinner, watched TV, and chatted together. On weekends, I accompany my wife to hike in the woods or go to the supermarket to buy some daily necessities. At home, I like simple and repetitive life. My hilarious addition is every time I’m away from home, going to art festivals, curating art festivals, or seeing art fairs and traveling.
2023年將在紐約舉辦“身臨其境 • 現場藝術巡迴8”，也正是續上屆2022年6月在德國的“重疊卡塞爾-現場藝術巡迴7之後，這隱約之間有一種時空的契合，希望事與人願，我也期待與世界各地的行為藝術家在紐約共度良辰，共享永恆！
實際上在1993年我作為旅遊者第一次來過紐約，住在太太的姨家裡，當時她的弟弟也在紐約上學。在一次逛Soho時路過了MoMa的Soho分館，在節目單上看到了由法國文化部安排的兩位住巴黎的中國當代藝術家陳箴和黃永砯雙個展，那時應該是美國第一次出現中國當代藝術家的名子。幾年後我住在了紐約，在Soho分館處理舊物拍賣堆裡找出了這個雙個展的錄相帶，由此我補充了我不在場的缺憾。錄像中展現出陳箴創作焚燒與縫紉，象徵摧毀與建設以強化共生共存的“荒野“的經過，和他不時替兩人回答記者或觀眾的提問。而黃永砯不會英語也就不出聲了，他的作品是”洗衣房“，人們在進入展廳時都得經過洗車用的滾動的裝置。為這雙人展大唱讚歌的是Deitch Project的老闆Mr.Deitch，他濤濤不絕地向觀眾介紹兩位藝術家的創作。也就是他若干年後通過陳箴在巴黎找到了王度，他丟給王度5千美金製作一個在紐約Deitch Project的展覽。隨後又將他推薦到威尼斯雙年展，王度就是從那時起跳出來了。
我曾遇到謝德慶met Tehching Hsieh, Marina Abramovic，Vito Acconci，Carolee Schneemann, Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Joseph Kosuth,Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Maurizio Cattelan …..
在Cutlog藝博會的工作坊上與紐約人的對談 A Conversation with New Yorkers at the Cutlog Art Fair Workshop
早在2019年我就與紐約Graces Exhibition Space談好要在2020年4月辦“中國行動”文獻展，因疫情延期至年底，後來疫情在美國一直在延續著，這件事也就擱下了。
2022年十月紐約之行，我再次與Grace Exhibition Space商量合作項目。疫情改變了人類的生活軌跡，同樣給藝術帶來新的挑戰。疫情帶來了行為藝術創作和發展的新動向，我們決定先展出近期的工作。至於原計劃的“中國行動”文獻展將再加入新的元素，預計在2024在紐約展出。由此我將在9月初回到紐約策劃國際現場行為藝術節，再一次與紐約擁抱！
1981-1984 在中國美術學院本科畢業。1989-2001 移居德國，在斯圖加特美術學院自由藝術班深造。2001-2007 住在紐約。2007-2011 任新加坡南洋理工大學設計藝術學院全職教授。2009 獲得精英博士研究生獎學金。2011 獲中國美術學院博士學位。2015-2019 任天津美術學院全職教授和實驗藝術學院研究生導師。2021 任中國美術學院公共藝術學院客座教授
蔡青策劃了許多藝術項目和展覽，包括他啟動和策劃的1998年在北京與馮博一合作的中國首次重要的地下當代藝術群展“生存痕跡”; 2008年在鄭州石佛村shifo的行為藝術展“毀滅前的建造”; 2016年在重慶長江當代美術館舉辦了系列大型國際當代藝術展“異質共生”; 2018年底，他作為中國部分發言人和策展人參加魁北克Inter art center舉辦的“Action Art 1998-2018”國際行為藝術研討會，並在le lieu藝術中心展出了他整理的近20年中國行為藝術文獻；除此之外他每年在世界各地不同的地點舉辦“現場藝術巡迴展”Art Now Live Tour, 包括去年在卡塞爾文獻展15期間完成的“重疊卡塞爾”- 現場藝術巡迴8。
在做藝術實踐的同時，他出版了幾部重要的專業著作，並在國內外重要的藝術雜誌上發表藝術批評。專著包括《行為藝術與心靈治愈》，這是第一本目前在中國關於行為藝術的專著，由北京世界圖書出版社2012年發行; 2013年《行為藝術現場》也由北京世界圖書出版社出版; 2017年他的另兩本新書《實驗藝術實踐 – 行動在海外》 由北京今日美術館出版社出版。