Cheng Li, a Chinese performance artist, was sentenced to one year of “reeducation through labor” for an explicit sex public performance on March 20.
Cheng, whose attorney applied for administrative reconsideration last week, had performed “Art Whore,” in which he and a female partner engaged in unsimulated sex acts before a private audience at the Contemporary Art Exhibition Hall in Beijing. The performance included “sex scenes on a balcony and in a basement of the exhibition hall,” reports China’s Global Times.
One unambiguous photo of the performance has been circulating, but it is unclear how many people actually saw the acts; Cheng’s case hinges on convincing the notoriously ironhanded Chinese judiciary that his performance, open only to a select group of invited artists, was not intended to create a disturbance and was not harmful to society. The Chinese government has been at the center of another art censorship controversy since April 3, when renowned artist and political dissident Ai Weiwei was taken into custody.
As for Cheng’s message, the artist stated that “the popular trend of commercializing art is nothing but a trade of sex for commercial benefits.”