“Social intervention performance” is how Chinese artist Han Bing describes his Walking the Cabbage series, which he discusses with the New York Times in the video above.
Encompassing performance, video, and photo works from 2000 to the present, Walking the Cabbage is the artist’s way of questioning the things that society values—both in contemporary China and elsewhere in the world.
“If a full stock of cabbage for the winter was once a symbol of material well-being in China, nowadays the nouveau riche have cast aside modest (monotonous) winters of cabbage in favor of ostentatious gluttony in fancy restaurants where waste signifies status. They flaunt “name brand” pooches, demonstrating how they no longer rely on the lowly cabbage, and can not only fatten themselves to obesity, but also pamper a pedigreed pet. Yet, for the poor and struggling, the realities of cabbage as a subsistence bottom line have not changed—what’s changed is the value structure that dictates what—and who—is valuable or worthless in Chinese society.”
In the video, Han says that he no longer controls the message. Instead, he says it’s up to you to interpret it.
Walking the Cabbage Across the USA : NYC, 2007
Me and My Cabbage at Suma Bay: Jiangsu, 2005
Walking the Cabbage in Tiananmen Square: Beijing, 2001
Walking the Cabbage Across the USA
Walking the Cabbage Across the USA: Miami Beach, 2006
Walking the Cabbage at City Shopping Market: Shanghai, 2005
All photos courtesy of Han Bing Art