In the Walking the Cabbage (2000-2009) series of social intervention performance, video and photography works, Han Bing walks a Chinese cabbage on a leash in public places, inverting an ordinary practice to provoke debate and critical thinking. Walking the Cabbage is a playful twist on a serious subject—the way our everyday practices serve to constitute "normalcy" and our identities are often constituted by the act of claiming objects as our possessions. A quintessentially Chinese symbol of sustenance and comfort for poor Chinese turned upside down, Han Bing's cabbage on a leash offers a visual interrogation of contemporary social values. If a full stock of cabbage for the winter was once a symbol of material well-being in China, nowadays the nouveau riche have cast aside modest (monotonous) winters of cabbage in favor of ostentatious gluttony in fancy restaurants where waste signifies status. They flaunt "name brand" pooches, demonstrating how they no longer rely on the lowly cabbage, and can not only fatten themselves to obesity, but also pamper a pedigreed pet. Yet, for the poor and struggling, the realities of cabbage as a subsistence bottom line have not changed—what's changed is the value structure that dictates what—and who—is valuable or worthless in Chinese society. Han Bing's social intervention performance art practice has been conducted in a vast array in public spaces and quotidian social settings ranging from tiny rural villages to cosmopolitan metropolises across the globe; from flourishing downtown bastions of the white-collar consumer elite to the agricultural fields of the salt-of-the-earth rural laborers; from the Great Wall to the Mississippi River; from Miami Beach to the Champs Elysees; from Harajuku to Haight-Ashbury; from Tiananmen to Times Square.
Walking the Cabbage (2000-2009)
Mortal World: Castaway, 2005
Han Bing (1974) grew up in an impoverished village in rural Jiangsu, China and studied art at Xuzhou Normal University and the Chinese Central Academy of Fine Art. In Beijing, he was moved by the harsh contrast between the urbanized "Chinese dream" propelling the nation's struggle to become "modern," and the cruel realities of those left behind, or trodden underfoot. Exploring the struggles and desires of ordinary people in China's "theater of modernization," he employs photography, video, multimedia installation, performance art and public interventions, as well as, sculpture and painting, to invert quotidian practice, reinvent everyday objects, explore the paradoxes of desire, and ask us to rethink the order of things. His work belongs to collections, public and private, in the US, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, PRC, Israel, Japan, China, Singapore, and elsewhere, including the UBS art collection.
Found at Ignant