Shanghai-based artist Lu Yang likes to refer to her hyperactive, gender-bending, body horror constructions as “stupid art.” Of course, there’s very little that’s stupid about it, but it is extremely absurd and filled with a dark sense of humor.
“All my works are based on some very bad things, death and disease. And I wanted to make a very cute character [with that],” she told ANIMAL. The cute character is Uterus Man, an asexual superhero who uses the powers of the uterus to fight villains. The character’s name is only Uterus Man because, according to her, all superheroes are men. Swinging babies on umbilical cords and firing infants from an orifice that is formed by putting his feet together, Uterus Man fights kaiju (humanoid monsters) and runs through a disease-themed video game that Yang designed with technical help from a team in her home country, China.
“Lu Yang’s Arcade,” which recently finished a 10-day run at Wallplay in the LES, was packed to the gills with disparate works she’s been making since 2001. They all hang together through their obsession with the body, disease, reanimation, spirituality and youth culture.
The centerpiece arcade machine was designed around characters and designs she’s been using in video work for years. Those videos were displayed on screens around the gallery and they had a Devil May Cry meets Tetsuo: The Iron Man quality to them, all scored with insane electronic music.
Next to the arcade machine, she displayed jewelry cases filled with bracelets and rings that are modeled after cancer cells and 3D-printed as ready-to-wear fashion accessories. They looked like something you would see at a Beijing mall designed by David Cronenberg.
Other projects were scattered throughout, including an ambitious reanimation of frogs used for lab research and a beautiful little augmented reality shrine. The shrine was where the subjects of death and disease look beyond the grave towards something larger. “Augmented reality is very popular, but I think if you use it in an original way, [as] something that you can see and can’t see at the same time, it’s interesting,” the artist said. To her, augmented reality is a way of seeing the spiritual, though she doesn’t profess any personal spiritual connections.
Though her exhibition is closed, Lu Yang is in New York for a three month residency.
(Photo: Lu Yang, Aymann Ismail/ ANIMAL NEW YORK)