Zhang Huan | China b.1965 | 12 square meters 1994 | DVD, colour, sound, 3:02 minutes, open edition | Purchased 2008. The Queensland Government's Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Image courtesy: The artist
12 square meters 1994
Zhang Huan’s video performances are unique for their place in the early history of performance art in China. 12 square meters 1994, is one of his most iconic pieces and is a seminal work in any history of the twentieth- century Chinese Avant-garde. Zhang Huan is known for his performances of physical endurance and hardship, which comment on societal issues and explore deeper relations with the self through the body. 12 square meters took place in June 1994 in a typical public toilet in China. This endurance test was a critique of the abject conditions experienced by thousands of Chinese in their everyday lives. Like all of Zhang’s work, 12 square meters explores the far-reaching effects of simple actions. His stoic and meditative endurance of often extreme situations are nevertheless reflective of everyday realities in China at this time.