Thursday, May 17, 2007 wasn't necessarily the bread throwing, and it wasn't the pile of naked bodies either. I can't help but be morbidly fascinated with Zhang Huan, and I blame it all entirely on the meatsuit. Now don't get me wrong, I'm well aware that none of this is 'tame,' but I found myself wondering just how far this guy would go to shock the art world. And lo and behold, I have found...

The lovely picture to your right. I'm well aware that the discerning reader may be asking themselves at this point "gosh, what could possibly be so shocking about this picture?" In an effort to protect any particularly sensitive readers I'm not going to post the related images - but in true democratic spirit I'll provide the link so you can check the entire piece out yourself: And for the rest of us I'll provide a rich description of Zhang Huan simulating sex with a donkey - whoops, guess I already described the collection. If you want more *gasp* shocking pictures, check out this one: here. But be forewarned, it's not for the weak at heart. You basically get a front row seat for watching Zhang Huan simulating suicide in a bathtub. Popcorn, anyone?

What?! My thoughts exactly dear reader. I would like to bring up the question of whether or not some contemporary Chinese art is being done purely for the sake of shock. I realize for some people this will cheapen the aesthetic value of the art - assuming you even find aesthetic value in watching a man 'bond' with a donkey. Personally, as long as a piece is interesting, I don't really care whether Zhang Huan is copulating with a donkey or teletubbies or whatever. But I can easily envision some critics and viewers either being offended or simply overwhelmed so as to divert their attention away from the art.

Is there a purpose for having a shocking piece simply for the sake of shock? I would argue that there is, but it depends on how you value art. If you only pay attention to a more superficial aesthetic sense you will never see the fascinating twist behind more grotesque pieces. Likewise if you look for an overinflated meaning in a grotesque piece I suppose you'll find it. And I suppose you'll come up with some strange, overinflated reason as to why Zhang Huan is both mounting and being mounted by a donkey. I'm happy not having a fake explanation and I'm content with writing the whole thing off as a shock contest. But here's the kicker: shock for shock's sake is fine with me. I personally envision art's purpose as being catalytic for thought and reflection. It doesn't have to be beautiful and it doesn't even necessarily have to have a reason for existing. Let's be honest, there's no reason that I can think of for the sake of Zhang Huan's defense in this case. And you know, that's perfectly ok. He did the piece for shock value, and guess shocked me. Job well done Zhang Huan. I suppose having sex with a donkey is not really too flattering, but at least he still has all his fingers. Which is more than I can say for Shi Qiong.

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