In 2018, performance artist He Yunchang donated a bundle of chopped wood to the Judith Neilson/White Rabbit Collection Archive, considering this to be the most appropriate documentation of his artistic practice. He Yunchang began chopping firewood at his Beijing studio in 2007, writing the date on each wooden fragment. The artist regards this activity as part of an ongoing performance work titled Within/Without.
The bundle of wood held in the Research Library at Dangrove contains lengths of wood chopped between 2008 and 2017, individually signed by the artist and marked with a date. Each fragment manifests the time that has passed since it was originally chopped; some pieces have rough and splintery surfaces that retain the bright colour of freshly chopped wood, while other pieces have taken on a grey tone, the artist’s inscription fading with exposure to rain.
Physical endurance has been a fundamental element of He Yunchang’s performance practice since the 1990s. Capturing flashes of a process that has been underway for more than ten years, these fragments of chopped wood chronicle the artist’s persistent, physically punishing activity through time.
The He Yunchang Artist File was compiled by the White Rabbit Collection Research Team in 2018. The file includes materials donated by He Yunchang and material produced and collected by the White Rabbit Collection, including exhibition ephemera, exhibition catalogues, time-based media, interviews, documentary photographs, and artist’s materials.
By Minerva Inwald, archivist for the Judith Neilson/White Rabbit Collection Archive.