Exile

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Peng Yu

2000

Video, 03:12:13.
Materials: Betacam SP

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. M00033).

Exile is the video recording of a performance by Peng Yu in Beijing. The artist pours oil from a jar into a river that encircles the city. The video follows the path the oil travels in the river. The oil on the water reflects images of the surroundings. Initially the oil is clearly visible but then it gradually mingles with the water and dissolves. The oil Peng Yu uses comes from dead human bodies. The oil floats around the city on the river which locals refer to as the ‘Protective River’. For the artist the drifting process symbolises human life. At birth every human being is clean and pure, a blank sheet. But as we grow up the influence of society and our surroundings becomes stronger and stronger. As our pure state disappears, more and more ‘dirt’ attaches itself to each and every one of us. The same happens to the oil in the river. A lot of domestic and industrial waste is discharged into the river, so that it becomes increasingly polluted and this affects the oil. Moreover, it is not clear where the water finally ends up, just as the course of human life is unpredictable.

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