Yang Jiechang

Yang Jiechang, Give me empty Areas of Liverpool for 33 years that we can fill, 2006

Yang Jiechang, Give me empty Areas of Liverpool for 33 years that we can fill, 2006

In his installations as well as his subversive conceptual ink painting and calligraphy, Yang Jiechang (b.1956, Foshan, Guangdong Province PR China) challenges the grand narratives embedded in the arts and everyday life. Coming out of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and relocated to Paris following the Tiananmen Square protests, Yang's works reflect his position at the ‘third space’ in global contemporary culture, often poignantly picking up on the effects of mainstream propaganda, be that under communist regimes or in the current discourses of terrorism and war. He often recycles images that have been manipulated into cliche by constant public exposure, such as that of the people’s hero, or of 9/11, and turns them upside down to reveal a forgotten reality.

Yang’s new work for International 06 was an exercise in urban acupuncture. Approaching the city as a living body, his work addressed the flow of energy within the city, intervening at points of perceived blockage in an effort to restore and rebalance the city as a whole.

In contrast to Yang's native China, Liverpool has seen a marked decline in its population over the last fifty years. While a small growth in recent years suggests that this trend is being reversed, the population still remains half what it was fifty years ago, with vacant properties in the city three times the national average. For Yang, these empty neglected areas of the city offer key points for intervention. His work mapped these areas within the fabric of the city, and through careful application of needles, attempts to reintegrate redundant limbs with the whole, freeing blockages to channel trapped energy into the present.

In 1997, Britain’s 99-year lease of Hong Kong’s New Territories (bordering on Yang’s birthplace, Guangdong Province) expired. Yang views his work as a reversal of this historic tenancy. Taking up temporary residence in the empty spaces of another former centre for British colonial trade, Yang uses ancient Chinese practices to reanimate British space.

Yang Jiechang in Liverpool Biennial 2006 

Give me empty Areas of Liverpool for 33 Years that we can fill, 2006
One acupuncture map, colour painting
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2006 
Exhibited at Tate Liverpool 

Supported by

The National Lottery through Arts Council England