Born 1972, Beijing; 1974, Jiamusi, Heilongjiang
Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, who are married, made their name with installations that were deliberately repulsive and even sickening. They have piped their own blood into the mouths of dead conjoined twins, presented as a “fallen angel” a woman with outsized chicken wings for arms, and formed a “civilisation pillar” from human fat removed in liposuction. I Didn’t Notice What I Am Doing (2012) is a more cerebral, multipart project centred on the theme of human comparisons and analogies and the idiosyncratic bases on which they often rest. The framed insect specimens acquired by the White Rabbit Collection were part of a large installation that also included skulls, shells, and life-size models of a triceratops and a rhinoceros. According to Sung Yuan, “The shape of the horn or antlers of the elephant beetles [also known as rhinoceros and scarab beetles] and the triceratops are very similar.” Our subconscious may infer from this similarity (and the similarities among the insects) a biological or evolutionary relationship, she explains. Yet none exists: the creatures developed independently in different ages and different parts of the world. The connections we see between them are largely in our minds.