Patty Chang

Patty Chang (b. 1972, San Francisco) is an artist and educator based in New York. Chang’s performances from the late 1990s, recorded in short films, became notorious for testing the limits of endurance and taste. In ‘Gong Li With the Wind’ (1996), performed at the New York University Film Center, she consumed and defecated a staggering quantity of beans. For ‘Paradise’ (1996), an indictment of the international sex trade in Asia, she played a prostitute servicing a customer. In a series of performances titled ‘Alter Ergo’ (1997), the artist balanced her body in a variety of torturously uncomfortable poses as a critique of female passivity. In more recent years, she has incorporated photography and video into her performances. For ‘Fountain’ (1999), Chang drank water from a mirror placed on the floor while projecting the performance onto monitors behind her and outside the gallery as though she were upright and “drinking” her own image. The photographs of Chang in seemingly impossible physical positions in the ‘Contortion’ series (2000–02) were faked, adding an element of play while again commenting on exoticized images of Asian women in popular culture. ‘Stage Fright’ (2003), performed at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, incorporated video projection, more excessive eating, and the 1950 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. Chang’s 2005 video installation ‘Shangri-La’ examines the effect of the James Hilton novel ‘Lost Horizon’ (1933) and the subsequent film by Frank Capra (1937) on China, since they catapulted the mythic utopia into the collective imagination and catalysed the resultant competition amongst rural Chinese towns to declare themselves the “real” Shangri-la.

Chang has had solo shows at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (2000), Baltic Art Center in Visby, Sweden (2001), Jack Tilton Gallery in New York (1999 and 2001), Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2005), and Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine (2008), among others. 

She has appeared in group shows and performances such as the Performance Festival at Kunstpanorama in Lucerne (2000), Quadrennial of Contemporary Art at the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst in Ghent (2001), Mirror, Mirror on the Wall at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams (2002), Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self at the International Center of Photography in New York (2003), Still Points of the Turning World at SITE Santa Fe (2006), Family Pictures at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (2007), and New Directors/New Film Festival at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2008). 

Chang has received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts (1999), Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation (2000), Rockefeller Foundation (2003), and Tides Foundation (2005). She was also a finalist for the Hugo Boss Prize (2008). 

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