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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
China crackdown on 'violent' art
Yuan Cai and Jian Ji Xi
Yuan Cai and Jian Ji Xi have courted controversy
Chinese officials are taking a hard line on contemporary art by banning work deemed bloody, violent or erotic - threatening jail terms for exhibition organisers.

The Ministry of Culture has issued new regulations suggesting jail sentences of up to three years for anyone organising "erotic performances".

These terms could increase to up to 10 years for anyone promoting more "serious crimes" such as using animal or human parts.

The regulations state: "Some people have made bloody, violent and erotic performances by abusing themselves or animals, and exhibiting human corpses in public places in the name of art."

Yuan Cai: Bouncing on Tracey's Bed
Yuan Cai: Created 'performance' out of Tracey Emin's bed
The government believes this type of work will "upset social orders and damage people's mental and physical health".

Videos and photographs are also covered by the ban.

Gallery owners and artists fear the rules are too stringent and will strangle creativity.

It is also seen by some as an erosion of free expression.

'Wide-sweeping'

Yu Ji, a Chengdu-based artist, caused controversy last year when he spent a day naked in a glass box filled with live chicks.

He said: "The rules are far too political and wide-sweeping.

"Some contemporary concept art is good and some of it is bad or offensive but the rules do little to distinguish which is which."

Chinese performance artists Yuan Cai and Jian Ji Xi hit the headlines last summer when they paraded naked through London with a teddy bear.

The pair also vandalised Tracey Emin's bed installation at the capital's Tate Modern gallery, calling the performance Two Naked Men Jump into Tracey's Bed.

Naked

Mr Cai spent three years in a Chinese jail after listening to Simon and Garfunkel on the radio.

Mr Xi caused controversy through his early performance work, which involved running naked in minus 20 degrees through Beijing University campus.

Shanghai gallery owner Dado Quadrio said the rules would stifle innovation in modern art, which in other countries would feed into the mainstream.

He said: "In Europe contemporary art is marginal, but it's still part of our daily life.

"It's in magazines, in newspapers. The language of contemporary art influences television and design."

Mr Quadrio believes artists are able to show constraint.

He added: "We will exercise self-censorship. We know what is dangerous and we know the limits."

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See also:

29 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese show breaks nude taboo
21 May 00 | Entertainment
Performance artists strike again
24 Oct 99 | UK
Feathers fly at art show
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