Kan Xuan

1972, Xuancheng, China

Kan Xuan was born in Xuancheng in 1972. After having lived and worked in Amsterdam, she has been based in Beijing since 2009.

Kan belongs to a generation of Chinese artists who explore the growing consumer society and its influence on the individual. She works with video, photography and performance in works that depict both absurd situations and sensitivity towards everyday, unremarkable objects such as rubbish or knick-knacks. Here three of the artist’s earliest video works are presented.

In the video Garbage the artist rummages around in a rubbish bin and holds up the items she finds in front of the camera, while she describes them in whispered voice. The meticulous treatment of the rubbish and the appealing voice of the narrator give the rubbish a new status as mysterious and glorified objects. 2 Yuan! 2 Yuan! consists of clips showing a variety of still images of different objects with two small coins attached to them. By determining a specific value for small and insignificant things, such as a pile of elastic bands or a torch, the artist is questioning the value system that dominates our society. The video Looking, looking, looking for… shows a spider that is moving around on the naked bodies of a young woman and man. Many people associate spiders with fear and phobias. Here one is allowed to wander calmly around on people’s bodies without being chased away or arousing horror. The work is reminiscent of Yoko Ono’s film Fly (1970), where a fly walks around on a woman’s body, in the way that the portrayal of the insect and the human body alternate between repulsion and desire.


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© Astrup Fearnley Museet