In Just a Blink of the Eye,2007

Live performance
Courtesy of James Cohan Gallery, New York


In Just a Blink of the Eye poses a live performer as if caught in a momentary fall, defying the physical laws of gravity. Supported by a concealed metal brace, the individual holds a stance that would normally last a fraction of a second for impossible stretches of time. The resulting piece, which seems to straddle the real and the unreal is a meditation on the in-between status of marginalized communities.

Xu Zhen, a conceptual artist from Shanghai, invites individuals from liminal communities, such as migrant workers from New York City’s Chinatown, to perform the piece in each of its iterations. In this case, students from Rensselaer’s Chinese American Student Association have been asked to help realize this work, and contribute their thoughts on what it means to exist between two worlds.


Xu Zhen is a conceptual artist whose work often takes the form of provocative interventions in order to confront socio-political taboos within the context of contemporary China.

Zhen has presented solo shows at James Cohan Gallery, New York (2009, 2008, & 2007) and ShanghART, Shanghai (2009 & 2006). Major international group exhibitions include The Conspiracy at the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (2009); Performa07, New York (2007); the 10th International Istanbul Biennial (2007); China Power Station: Part II, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway (2007); and The Real Thing: Contemporary Art from China at Tate Liverpool (2007). Xu was also included in the 49th Venice Biennale (2001), and represented China at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005). He lives and works in Shanghai.

Image courtesy of the artist, Long March Project, Beijing, and James Cohan Gallery, New York