The Place Where Ethnicity and Politics Vanish
In December of 2009, on the anniversary of the Rape of Nanjing, Li Xinmo invited the Japanese performance artist Shimizu Megumi to the Other Gallery in 798 to perform the work, “The Place Where Ethnicity and Politics Vanish.” As everyone knows, Japan invaded China during World War II and caused enormous suffering and trauma in China. The Rape of Nanjing is a historical event possessing tremendous symbolic meaning. Even in the present, the view that the Japanese are enemies is still prevalent and is gaining momentum among the Chinese masses. At the same time, nationalism is also on the rise. In this work, Li Xinmo explores issues of ethnicity and identity. Li Xinmo and Shimizu Megumi each wore clothes that represented their ethnic group and sat facing each other and gazing at each other. They took turns painting the other person’s flag on each other’s headscarves. They took off each other’s flags, rolled them up and sat on them. Then they sat and gazed at each other before taking off each other’s clothes, which had ethnic markers on them. They looked at each other and then used their hands to feel the other’s heartbeat. Finally, they helped each other put on black hoods and then exited as they held hands. In the end, the viewers could only see their bodies, which were the same and had no ethnic signifiers or differences. The work spoke about the production of ethnicity from another perspective and created a shared path in order to resolve ethnic hatred.