Performance artist sees the world upside down

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2006, 12:00am

Performance artist Li Wei's world was turned upside down yesterday when he was dangled by a crane over the harbour near the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.

Dressed in shorts and T-shirt, and with wires attached to his shoes and waist, he was lowered head first into the water, where he wriggled like a hooked fish before being raised.

'It is not as dangerous as it looks if you are well prepared and have taken safety precautions,' said Beijing-based Li, 36, who has performed his solo show in various parts of the world, including Spain, Italy, the United States, France, Japan and Australia, since 1999.

'I seldom do any practice beforehand, just to make it more natural,' said Li after performing his one-off Hong Kong show in front of the media but no spectators.

He said spectators were not important for his art, which he does for his own satisfaction.

'It's hard to control these things. I conceived and finished my work ... that's enough. We'll have photos and videos as the final result. The performance is actually a metaphor,' he said.

'The message I want to convey is about people's living conditions in this fast-developing society.'

Difficult actions and unlikely occurrences are frequent topics of Li's art, which critics say involves a large dose of irony and an acid sense of humour. In earlier performances, Li has had his body protruding from the ground and a glass building, like a missile.

'I have been to a lot of places to give my performances. It's interesting to be in different conditions. Hong Kong is unique in its culture and location and it's good for my show,' said Li, who in August will give a performance in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


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