From september 11 to 15th of November 2010 – F2 Gallery
It seems there is no one good term to descript Xu Heng’s overall practice. His conceptual photography work touches on the issues of gender, sexuality and male/ female relationship in the current Chinese society. However, pass the obvious appearance of the work, underneath the surface, his work embodies his deep personal spiritual pursuit. Xu employs his own body in every single work that he has created since 2003, where he dresses himself in a disguise of a woman in different poses, and most recently started to utilize digital image manipulations to express his artistic concepts.

The first work that Xu ever created on the “transgender” topic was at the end of his sophomore year while studying at the Central Academy of Fine Art in 2003. Titled “Iiiiiiii,” Xu appears as a young lady seven times in different poses in a space resembles to a living room, while the artist as his actual self sits at the left back corner starting into the lenses. It was a spontaneous experiment, as well as a thrilling experience for him. After “Iiiiiiii,” the work had opened up a whole new artistic world for him, hence became a turning point in his practice.

For the next three years, Xu transformed a one-time experiment into a full artistic project; he took on multiple roles as fashion designer, stylist, model and artist all into one. In 2006, the work “17 of My Front and Back” is the result of his continuous labor and creativity; in this work, Xu role-played as traditional Chinese girl, girl wearing uniform, show girl and ballerina. The work plays out the collective male projection of the stereotypical fantasy of female identities.

From 2007 to 2010, Xu spent another three years on his new series “Empty Body” while choosing the most refined visual language to express his aesthetics. Unlike posing as various female figures as he did in his previous works, Xu started to utilize digital technologies to facilitate him to realize his ideas as the conceptions behind his works deepened and become more complex. The imagery of male and female manikins repetitively appears along with his female persona. The new series manifests the idea of the incompleteness of each human being, since we only can be either male or female. The urge to be completed by the other half is commonly found as male-female attraction in our daily life. However, Xu takes this pursuit of wholeness into his artistic practice; in his work, he is complete, in both physical and spiritual sense. The artist hopes to bring diverse viewpoints to the audiences who come across his work, and through his practice to help them to look beyond the surface.

ABOUT THE ARTIST
Xu Heng was born in Yichang, Hubei Province in1983. He graduated from Central Academy of Fine Art with a BFA in Photography and Digital Media in 2005. Since 2002, Xu has been participating in exhibitions in China and abroad. His selected recent exhibitions include Xu Heng Solo Exhibition, F2 Gallery, Beijing (2010); VISUALGALLERY AT PHOTOKINA, Germany (2008); ZhuYi! Chinese Contemporary Photography, ARTIUM Basque Museum-Central for Contemporary Art, Spain (2007); PIEA International Traveling Photo Exhibitions, USA, Canada, Australia (2005-07); Post Electronic Image, Must Be contemporary art center, Beijing (2006); Out of Order, F2 Gallery (2006). Xu now lives and works in Beijing

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