LEE Ming-Sheng was born in Menong, Kaohsiung in 1952. He graduated from the Department of Navigation Science, National Taiwan Maritime College in 1977 but decided to start a career in documentary photography in 1979. He began to execute performance pieces in public spaces in 1983, independently and in a guerilla-like way. Throughout the 1980s, he could be seen on the streets of Taipei making “one-person action art.” Lee is among the early pioneering Taiwanese artists who criticizes and reflects upon social norms and political environs through body, action and installation. He is also the most long-standing action artist with the most provoking attitude in his days.
To put his art ideals into practice and to raise people’s attention to the many defects of Taiwan, he used his own body as a material to make art in public. He so outrageously challenged and criticized the norms through his poignant performances -- sometimes considered misbehaviors by others — that he caused a great stir in the local art scene. In LEE Ming-Sheng = Art in 1988, police even intervened because he brought excrements to a forum on Dadaism at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. But because he dared to challenge tradition and raise public awareness through risky avant-garde, guerrilla-like street acts, he gradually garnered a great deal of attention. He was invited to participate in the 45th Venice Biennale entitled Aperto '93: Emergency / Emergenza in 1993 to show his action artwork Fireball or Circle. This makes him the first Taiwanese artist to have been invited to the Venice Biennale. He shifted his focus to incorporating art and daily life in 1999 and has continued doing so. He still cares about society is dedicated to promoting contemporary art to community residents today.
This is a collection of Lee’s work from 1981 to 1998, including videos of his performance acts, more than 300 still photos and texts exceeding 30,000 words. The title already suggest the essence of this artwork: the human body is a kind of material for making art and a medium to deliver ideas. Although the artist’s body is small, his will is infinite. More specifically speaking, this radical artist is determined to make art because he wants to fight against the sickening system with his own body. Lee’s daring, confrontational creations correspond to the social uproars around the time when the Martial Laws were lifted. His idea of “body and behavior equal art” also echoes the society’s yearning for reforms and breakthroughs.
Taiwan in the 1980s saw the ease of political oppressions and the rise of democracy. This is also the time when economy developed rapidly, national income increased annually, and property and stock markets rocketed high. People were confident about a bright future because “Taiwan is awash with cash.” The social climate however also degraded and everyone went crazy participating in this big “money game.” Moral standards went looser and looser; politicians gave false promises mixed with ideals and lies just to win power. Politics, money, power and all the strange phenomena taking place in society result in the collapse of social values and the decline of ethics and morality. Such was uncommon before and after the lifting of the Martial Laws. All of the above also became important subject matters which artists of the time cared about and criticized.
Lee cares about nature and passionately loves hometown Taiwan. He is also quick to notice political conflicts of interest and social maladies. His artworks of the 1980s and 1990s focus on these things. Be believed that “my body = my art” and performed guerilla-like street acts. In this way, he feverishly pointed out what drawbacks the society had, how human civilization damaged the nature, and how the Taiwanese people forced society into chaos with the swords of power and money, almost to the extent of uprooting and clashing against the society.
|English title：||LEE Ming-Sheng is 150 cm Tall|
|Medium / Classification：||Installation Art|
|Collection Unit：||Courtesy of Mr. YEH Rong-Jai|
|Contact method for authorization：||
|Related Exhibition：||"The Pioneers" of Taiwanese Artists, 1951-1960|