Yingmei Duan (Born 1969, China, currently lives and works in Braunschweig, Germany)
Best known for her performance work, Yingmei Duan is a curious observer who asks questions of all facets of life. Duan started her artistic career as a painter and was a member of the avant-garde East Village art community in Beijing. During this time, she participated in To Add One Metre to an Anonymous Mountain (1995), a seminal performance work in the narrative of ‘Contemporary Chinese Art’. In 1998 Duan moved to Germany to study at the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste (HBK) Braunschweig with Marina Abramovic and Christoph Schlingensief. For the past twelve years she has concentrated her energy and creativity on making performance art and researching the medium.
The artist works with her own body as a means of expression. Her work is experimental and site-specific. The artist often realizes her performances in found places in both indoor and outdoor spaces or at other times creates spatial situations that are necessary for her work. The temporal extension, spontaneity, and the inclusion of the audience play an important role. In order to create a close connection with everyday life, Duan loves to work together with people from different cultures, ages and walks of life, immersing herself in the life of local communities often through conducting collaborative workshops. The materials used in her work are those found in everyday surroundings: Duan builds installations out of such materials and objects as paper, garbage, furniture. In vivid images unusual connections are established between the things: sometimes ironic, sometimes tragic, or even mystical. By the use of noise and light intense atmospheres and moods are created.
Duan’s performative concepts convey visions between dream and reality, personal fears and desires. Focusing on cultural backgrounds, social constraints and social relationships, the performances raise a variety of questions without giving a definitive answer.
Her work has been included in numerous international exhibitions including Body & Eros the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007), Manchester International Festival (2009) and most recently Art of Change: New Directions from China at the Hayward Gallery, London (2012).