Shanghai artist Lu Yang’s world is one of death, disease and genetic manipulation, where the politics between the natural and artificial, human and machine play out in the most disturbing ways. As the prodigy of the video artist Zhang Peili, often referred to as the father of Chinese video art, Lu has established herself as one of the youngest and most successful media artists in China today, with a practice that spans five continents. Her work draws influence from otaku culture, manga, sci-fi, medicine, biology, and is not afraid to embrace new technologies and challenge convention. Her latest ongoing project Uterusman has once again captured the attention of the international art scene.
Uterusman, when standing with legs closed together and arms arched high, resembles the form of the female reproduction organ, hence his name. His body and armor structure correlates to the different parts of the uterus. Like other superheroes, he is in command of a series of superpowers, including Blood Energy Altitude Flying (血能飞行), XY Chromosome Attach (XY染色体攻击), DNA Attack (DNA系基因攻击) and imaginative gadgets and vehicles such as the Baby Weapon (婴儿武器), Sanitary Pad Skateboard (卫生巾滑板), and Deep Throat Laser Cannon (深喉激光炮), to name a few.
Uterusman is a superhero in the age of artificial reproduction. His surrealist, futuristic reality is one of gender ambiguity and the deterioration of the natural environment, with many parallels to our own (reality) that is rapidly speeding into the unknown territory of life creation aided by the ever-expanding and ever-deepening research in the life sciences. The paradox in the hero’s very own androgyny and self-procreating abilities pose difficult questions that test socially conceived notions of identity and even basic definitions of core concepts in biological categorization, sex, and evolution.
In addition to the controversial content that is present in the piece, Lu also explores a more open approach to art production. Uterusman consists of a series of smaller art explorations, besides the artist’s usual medium of 3D animation film, designed diagrams and photography, Lu also created a physical manifestation of the Pelvis Chariot (盆骨战车), a character book with cover art by hhuuaazzii, and currently, an online game is being developed in collaboration with the French company V-Cult. This open source approach has led Lu to scout out one of her most unique collaborators, an individual by the name Yuma Hamasaqi who since the age of twenty-two has successfully transformed himself/herself/itself into an asexual being. With him/her/it as the model, Lu was able to create a series of cosplay photographs of the also asexual Uterusman.
Compared to most of the other works on display at the MoCA Animamix Biennale, Uterusman exhibits a new kind of Chinese art that neither focuses on history, stories nor social/personal issues specific to China. Instead, it links to a broader network of topics that are equally relevant to the rest of the world. Lu herself represents a different side of new generation Chinese artists that are blatantly honest, fearless, and fully embracing of the technological era that is upon us.
Lu Yang’s Uterusman anime film and installation is currently showing as part of the MoCA Animamix Biennale, you can also see the full film on vimeo at https://vimeo.com/82164043. To see more of her work, please visit http://luyang.asia.
[All images: Courtesy of the MOCA Shanghai (Museums of Contemporary Art Shanghai)]