China Artists Association Expels Artist for Vagina Calligraphy Performance

The 63-year-old artist laughed it off.

Sun Ping Still from the work Sexual Calligraphy Photo from Sun Ping's Weibo

The Chinese artist Sun Ping has been expelled from the government-run China Artists Association (CAA) and has been labelled “vulgar,” “low class,” and  “uncivilized” by the organization for the creation of his Vagina Calligraphy performance.

The video performance features a woman painting traditional Chinese calligraphy while holding the brush with her vagina.

According to Sixth Tone, Sun’s expulsion was announced on the CAA’s account of the popular Chinese social media platform WeChat, and the Daily Mail reported that the organization later released a statement on its website saying that the artist “ruined calligraphy at will and trampled on civilization.”

The statement also accused Sun of using  the name of performance art to promote Sexual Calligraphy in China and overseas, and claimed that “The general public have looked down upon it.”

The CAA concluded that “After investigation, his behavior has indeed caused adverse social impact and great damage to the reputation of Chinese Artists Association.”

Sun Ping's Vagina Calligraphy performance. Photo: video still via LiveLeak.

Sun Ping’s Vagina Calligraphy performance. Photo video still via LiveLeak.

The 63-year-old artist who was a member of the CAA since 1985 has been making similar works since 2006. He explained that the piece aims to question the status of traditional Chinese art and challenge the concept of vulgarity in contemporary Chinese society.

“The vagina is too often considered vulgar,” Sun told Sixth Tone.” But it’s where we all come from.”

Sun played down his expulsion from the “extremely conservative” organization and admitted that his “first reaction was laughter.”

He went on to explain that he only joined the CAA as a young artist to gain access to exhibitions, “it was funny to be suddenly reminded that I still had the slightest connection with them,” he added.

While it is unlikely that Sun’s expulsion from the association will have an adverse effect on his career, it does illustrate the Chinese art scene’s shift towards conservatism, and exposes the government’s efforts to control artistic output.

Chinese authorities have routinely meddled in artistic freedom and have censored, intimidated, and locked up artists that have contradicted the state’s idealistic vision of what Chinese art should represent.

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