Li Binyuan Breakthrough
Beijing-based artist Li Binyuan is best known for his highly personal, politically-charged performance and video works, which often consist of sustained physical efforts and use his own body as the primary material. The most recent of these works, Breakthrough (2019), was performed at the opening of Lisson Gallery’s group summer exhibition in London, ‘Afterimage: Dangdai Yishu’, curated by Victor Wang. Li Binyuan is part of a younger generation of artists emerging from China, born after the tumultuous years of revolution and working within a global context in which new media and networks such as yingxiang yishu 影像藝術 (video art) and xingwei yishu 行为艺术 (performance art) have arisen.
In Breakthrough, Li stands atop a purpose-built brick tower, several metres high, at which he proceeds to chip away with forceful blows from a hammer. The process continues for as long as is needed for the tower to be completely dismantled – in this second iteration, the performance lasted a total of six hours. The work is evidenced by the mound of broken brick in the gallery for the remainder of the exhibition.