Plant the Flag: A performance by Sun Yuan & Pengyu

Plant the Flag: A performance by Sun Yuan & PengyuPlant the Flag: A performance by Sun Yuan & Pengyu


A commissioned performance within the program Garage Live to accompany the exhibition The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100.

The artistic duo Sun Yuan & Pengyu will present a one-off live event on the closing day of the exhibition. The piece—а provocative yet laconic performance that involves a sword that ends with a flag and a professional sword swallower—is intended to underline the often life-threatening quality of our political choices, the heavy responsibility and dangers our chosen ideologies entail. Drawing a very straightforward parallel between the practice of environmental protection and that of the ancient art of sword swallowing, the artists stress not only the great courage, self-control, and determination it takes but also the equally great limitations it entails. Any ideology (symbolically represented by a red flag fixed to the end of the sword) simultaneously defines and constrains us, limiting our movements just as the blade in the acrobat’s act confines their body. For Sun Yuan & Pengyu, acting upon one’s political beliefs means exactly that: being aware of the blade and being ready to be the sword swallower at any given time. The title of the work, Plant the Flag, is a colloquial term in Chinese meaning “take an oath.”

The performance is produced with the participation of Konstantin Dasov, a professional sword swallower whose craft runs in the family.


 Sun Yuan (b. 1972, Beijing) & Peng Yu (b. 1974, Beijing) both studied oil painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing. After participating in groundbreaking exhibitions in China, they rose to prominence as independent artists in the late 1990s and formed a collaborative partnership in 2000. Since then, they have incorporated unconventional, organic materials into their practice, which crosses mediums and challenges systems of political and social authority. Their large installations, which often include technological components, comment critically on the contemporary understanding and exercise of political constructs like the nation state, sovereign territory, freedom, and democracy. Sun Yuan & Peng Yu have had solo exhibitions at Gare Saint Sauveur, Lille (2013); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2012–2013); Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore (2012); and Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing (2009). They have participated in numerous group exhibitions, including: 58th Venice Biennale (2019); Biennale of Sydney (2010); Liverpool Biennial (2006); Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Kunstmuseum Bern (2005); Gwangju Biennale (2004); and Lyon Biennale (2000). They live and work in Beijing.

Konstantin Dasov (b. 1985, Tashkent) grew up in a family of circus performers. He graduated from the College of Circus and Performance Art in Tashkent (1997). Dasov works as an equilibrist in the circus, while also specializing in contortionism and extreme magic. He lives in Perm.


Free admission