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 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 12:48 GMT
'Baby-eating' artist sparks TV row
A scene from Beijing Swings
Beijing Swings looks at extreme art in China
A row has broken out over a Channel 4 documentary which features a Chinese artist apparently eating a stillborn baby.

The documentary, Beijing Swings, is an investigation into extreme art practices in China.

It also includes footage of a man drinking wine that has had an amputated penis added to it.

It will be broadcast by Channel 4 on Thursday night.

The documentary includes stills of artist Zhu Yu biting into the body of a stillborn baby.

It is worth trying to understand why China is producing the most outrageous, the darkest art, of anywhere in the world

Waldemar Januszczak, presenter
The artist is quoted as saying: "No religion forbids cannibalism.

"Nor can I find any law which prevents us from eating people. I took advantage of the space between morality and the law and based my work on it."

Mr Yu, who is a Christian, claims religion plays a major role in his work.

The programme has been attacked by Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, who said: "This programme sounds hideous."

But the documentary's presenter, Sunday Times art critic Waldemar Januszczak, defended the documentary on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Honest worldview

While he did not defend Mr Yu's practice, he said: "It is worth trying to understand why China is producing the most outrageous, the darkest art, of anywhere in the world."

Mr Januszczak also said: "I personally find him deluded in what he has done.

"But I found him to be really honest about it all, and very keen to present his worldview.

"His worldview is, in the end, we are all meat."

The Chinese embassy in London has reportedly also condemned the programme.

Mr Yu's performance show, Eating People, was originally shown in 2000. It has been shown at the Third Shanghai Biennale in China.

Mr Yu's work is part of a wave of extreme art that has swept contemporary Chinese artistic circles.

The ministry of culture cracked down on what it termed "shock art" after the country was announced as the host to hold the 2008 Olympics.

In September 2001, the first exhibition of Chinese modern art was unveiled in Berlin.

Modern artists had not been allowed to show their work outside the country before then because their work was deemed to show the Chinese people in bad light, or be contrary to communist ethics.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Sunday Times art critic Waldemar Januszczak
and David Lee, editor of the art paper Jackdaw talk to the Today programme
See also:

19 Nov 02 | Entertainment
10 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Jul 02 | Scotland
10 May 01 | Entertainment
29 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
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