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Six degrees

Mark Peters


Wim Delvoye, the Belgian conceptualist whose art is currently on view at Hong Kong's Galerie Perrotin, once sparked controversy with his "pooing machine" installation, Cloaca, an enormous clinical apparatus that mimicked the human digestive system. The excrement it produced was, Delvoye said, his comment on the euro. In 2006, the China-based artist tattooed the back of a young Swiss man and sold the work to a German art collector. The walking masterpiece, Tattoo Tim, is obligated to exhibit his back four times a year. Delvoye is good friends with art-world luminary Ai Weiwei …

A political activist and prodigious artist, Ai has been both celebrated and persecuted by Chinese officialdom. Ai, who underwent brain surgery following a police beating in 2009, lost 12kg while imprisoned in 2011 for alleged tax evasion. He was employed as an artistic consultant on the "Bird's Nest", the National Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but later distanced himself from the project and criticised those choreographing the Olympic opening ceremony as failing to live up to their responsibility as artists. Among others, his accusations were aimed at Steven Spielberg and Zhang Yimou …

The distinguished director, one of the leading filmmakers of China's "Fifth Generation", rose from humble beginnings. After high school, Zhang was sent to a farm in Qianxian county, Shaanxi province, where he toiled as a labourer throughout the Cultural Revolution. It was during this time that Zhang's career as a photographer began - according to legend, he bought his first camera with money made from selling his blood. In 2004, Zhang directed the hugely successful martial-arts epic House of Flying Daggers, starring Hong Kong heartthrob Andy Lau Tak-wah and Taiwanese-Japanese star Takeshi Kaneshiro …

The effortlessly handsome and versatile actor prefers to keep his personal life out of the media spotlight. Despite rumours of his being gay - perhaps due to a lack of gossip concerning dalliances with the ladies - a Tokyo newspaper announced last week that Kaneshiro had secretly married his long-term girlfriend. In 2003, Time magazine declared Kaneshiro - a former teen idol-turned-quirky leading man - to be the "Asian Johnny Depp" …

Not content to simply say it with flowers, Depp renamed a beach on his private Bahamian island, Little Hall's Pond Cay, after his The Rum Diary co-star and girlfriend, Amber Heard. Depp, who will soon appear as the American-Indian Tonto in the movie The Lone Ranger, recently formed a book publishing imprint, Infinitum Nihil. One of its first releases will be The Unraveled Tales of Bob Dylan

On July 29, 1966, rumours spread around the world that Robert Allen Zimmerman had been paralysed or possibly killed in a motorcycle accident in New York. The official press release said Zimmerman (Dylan's real name) had been knocked unconscious, breaking several vertebrae in his neck and was in critical condition. As he recovered, the singer-songwriter went into seclusion for nine months, with many believing he was, in fact, detoxing from a heroin addiction. Knockin' on Heaven's Door, a 1973 hit for Dylan, was also the name of a 2010 exhibition, at Brussels' Bozar museum, of works by Wim Delvoye.



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