“Perhaps my final performance will be exchanging my clothes for those of a shaman.”

Born 1967, Baotou, Inner Mongolia. Lives and works in Beijing.

Cang Xin became interested in art while he was at music school, but he received no formal training. To this day he employs assistants to help execute his paintings, drawings and sculptures. For him art is more than technique: it is an extension of his self-image as a modern shaman, heir to the nature-magic tradition of his native Mongolia. Cang Xin first seized the public imagination with Communication (1996-2006), a ritual-performance series in which he licked or tasted everything from cockroaches and cobblestones to banknotes and a portrait of Jean-Paul Sartre. In another series, Identity Exchange (2000-06), he swapped clothes with strangers. The title of his exhibition Existence in Translation sums up Cang Xin’s grand theme, which pervades works including Shamanism Series: Variation (2006) and Exotic Flowers and Rare Herbs series (2007-08): the shamanic idea that all life forms are linked by the endless transmigration of souls.

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