The China Artists Association (CAA), which was founded in 1949 and includes many prominent artists, has expelled one of its members for his vaginal calligraphy.
Sun Ping is a 63-year-old artist and graduate of the prestigious Guangdong Academy of Fine Arts. He first joined the CAA way back in December of 1985 and has often been known to push the boundaries of membership.
Like every messy breakup, this one began online. The CAA issued an announcement on WeChat criticizing Sun for “sexualizing calligraphy.” They claimed that Sun’s style was not only “vulgar” and “degrading to traditional calligraphy and civilization,” but also has negatively impacted the pristine reputation of the CAA. The committee decided to expel Sun based on the provisions of item VIII of Article IX in the Member Code, which states: “purposeful violation of the code or cause of adverse social impact could result in loss of membership”.
From the beginning of his career, Sun has interwoven a sexual theme into his art. When he was in the army, one of his first works, “Wet Dreams,” consisted of sperm-stained bedsheets expressing the “frustration of spirit,” Global Times reports.
Sun first started vaginal calligraphy in 2006 in his installation “Bu Zhi Dao” (I Don’t Know). It depicted a half-naked woman holding a calligraphy brush between her vagina and writing on large pieces of paper laid on the ground.
His motivation was to question societal norms.
“Our culture impregnated us with sexual taboos. If art is revered why can’t sex be revered as well? People who look at Bu Zhi Dao with a perspective that is merely sexual, will immediately criticize and thus miss its deeper meaning and message,” Sun explains.
“This may seem unfair, ugly and vulgar on the outside because we’re clouded by principles and conventions. But it also bears elegance, beauty and inner value. It is also art.”
In a telephone interview with Sixth Tone, Sun urges viewers of his work to question their definition of vulgarity. “A vagina is too often considered vulgar, but it is where we all come from,” he said.
Sun responded to the repeal of his membership with ease and laughter. He joined the CAA early on in his career to have more opportunities, but he was never ideologically aligned with them. When he heard that he had been expelled, he found it funny to be “reminded of the slightest connection between them,” Sixth Tone reports.
Most netizens support the CAA’s decision to revoke Sun’s membership and say they are shocked by his art:
“I just want to know why you can’t write with your hand,” wrote @鸡米宝.
“[His membership] is finally cancelled. Sun Ping is such an old man already, just continue following tradition. Why do you have to invent ‘sexual calligraphy.’ This is too vulgar,” wrote @July-Chen7.
If you don’t think it’s too vulgar, watch the video below:
By Sarah Lin
[Images via Ace / Global Times]