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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wife, friends defend jailed Chinese 'public sex' artist

Sulaiman Kamal | 12:35 AM | Best Blogger Tips

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BEIJING - The wife of a Chinese performance artist jailed for having sex in public as part of the daring exhibition insisted that her husband has done nothing wrong.
Speaking just days after it was publicly announced Cheng Li has been sent to a labor camp for one year for "disturbing public order," wife Ma told China Daily's METRO she fully supported his decision to go ahead with the show.
"He talked to me about his plan beforehand," said Ma, who requested her full name not be used. "From what I was told by other people, I can't see that he (Cheng) did anything that crossed the boundary from art (into crime). I understand him."
Ma, who works in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, returned to the Chinese capital after hearing that police had detained her 57-year-old husband on March 24.
He was accused of taking part in a "pornographic performance" on March 20, when he and a female partner had sexual intercourse in front of a small crowd at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Songzhuang, Tongzhou district.
"Cheng is a noted performance artist in the (art) circle," said lawyer Wang Zhenyu, who is representing Cheng. "He was invited to the exhibition to perform there and he did it following the schedule of the exhibition. Although it was called an exhibition, it was not a public event; rather an internal communication among insiders."
He added that his client is considering appealing his punishment through an administrative review and "hopes to have a chance to explain himself, to let others know what he did."
Viewers who attended the gallery show generally expressed confusion at the detention, according to performance artist Guo Zhenming, who was also detained by police last June for taking part in a nude display.
"There was no public disorder," he said. "All the audience was made up of either performance artists or art critics. They were prepared mentally for what they were going to see and were very quiet during the process.
"He (Cheng) was using his art to criticize the current situation in the art circle, where people seem to lose their principles. It is his way of expressing irony that art today is over-commercialized," added Guo.

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