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Banned vagina artist writes open letter to Chinese media

Sun Ping has addressed the Chinese Artists Association after controversy surrounding his art piece where a woman writes script with her vagina

A Chinese artist who had his membership from a government-led artist association revoked, after performance art featuring a woman doing calligraphy with her vagina was circulated, spoken out.

Sun Ping, a 63-year-old artist from Heilongjiang, China, had been a member of the China Artists Association since 1985. He had been experimenting with the intimate performance art piece since first creating “Unknown Tao” in 2006, featuring a half naked woman writing out Chinese texts with a calligraphy brush in her vagina. He has since worked on “Bi Front”, which explores similar acts in a bid to dissect dignity, identity and sexism. It was reported by Sixth Tone that because his work was getting recognition abroad that the association decided to act.

A spokesperson from the organization said “sexual calligraphy” was “vulgar” and “had an adverse effect” which brought about “considerable damage” to traditional Chinese society, the tradition of calligraphy and the association’s reputation. “Sun Ping has just had too adverse an effect on the art world,” they said.

Sun Ping has since spoken out in an open letter shared with Dazed, calling out the “untruthfulness and misdirection” of the Chinese Artist Association, as well as local media under the alleged influence of the government. He asserted that he had been “banned from expressing” his thoughts on the issue, and that local media had published “obvious untruthful and misguided diabolical errors, not only turning art debate into worldly rubbish, (but what) also leads to massive venomous personal attacks”.

“I was very surprised to see my name going all over the place on media, and my first reaction was laughter,” he continued. “I felt honoured to have a governmental organisation remembering me, but ever since I began to do contemporary art in the late 80s, I never had anything to do with them, the membership was just like a dead body, and I would like to thank them for kicking me out.”

“Most of the main stream media lean to the association's side writing negative journals and exaggerate the untruthfulness about me and my work,” Sun Ping added. The artist then lists questions to both the CAA and news site WCCDaily, specifically calling out the supposed “unanimous contempt from the public”, which he had never experienced. He expressed sadness that media did not include background on his work, leaving a one-sided narrative that it was “vulgar” and “wantonly defiled calligraphy and trampled over civilization”.

Sun Ping also dismissed “inappropriate fantasies” that the brush pen was made out of women’s pubic hair. Addressing the tradition of calligraphy, he explained: “They don't know that this type of calligraphy was aimed at challenging the recognition of high brow and low brow. Those who associate this with sexual activity and dirty things are ones who really dirty and boring, therefore, they felt offended.”