NI DAODAO, Fire (2020)

My Gut Feelings: Memory, Food, and Fluid Identity 

The “reform” and “open” of the PRC from the late 1970s has rapidly reconstructed the country’s economy and bought about the revival of consumerist culture. While contemporary Chinese art has served as the symbol of avant-gardism and a liberalist resistance to party ideology, it looks desperately hilarious to Ni Daodao that the artist residency where he worked still required its members to obtain meals from the canteen with food coupons in the early 2010s. The food coupons evoke not only a vague remembrance of Mao’s era, but also questions of individual living conditions after the ‘78 liberal economic reform.

Ni Daodao says, “I am a nomad in nature, and I opt to live in a nomadic way.” He refutes any claims of a consistent identification with a particular nation, ethnicity, and gender. His upbringing has not prepared him for adopting a life guided by the state ideology. Instead, his experience of being treated as a freak in his family and school has encouraged him to explore living as a nomad. The artist carried on his exploration of the relationship between food, stomach, and self-identity during his studies in Lisbon, Portugal (2019-2020). By sewing food packages and butterflies, the artist conveys biological and emotional linkages between himself and the regions where he stayed.

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