He Yunchang

The Rock Tours Around
Great Britain, 2006–2007

Performance documentation (two parts, each 51’ 30’’),
C-prints on Dibond, 24 parts, 56.5×42.5 cm and 55.5×41.5 cm
Courtesy of the artist

Lasting 112 days, the longest endurance performance He Yunchang has ever undertaken, The Rock Tours Around Great Britain continues his practice of overcoming forces (other than his own will), be they natural, human or mechanical. He accomplishes this through a series of actions whose amplitude, quantity or duration usually dramatically outweigh the alleged “goal.” In this case, the artist walked 3,500 km along the coast of Great Britain to return a stone to the same place where he took it from at the start of his journey. As in the work where he attempted to stand on a rock at Niagara Falls, a stone is involved. This time it is not immovable, but its shoe-like size suggests that its weight will be felt over time by the person carrying it. A heavy burden after ten hours’ walking every day, it acquires an agency of its own, changing the artist’s body and mind. As the title of the work suggests, neither stone nor man retain the same relationship to each other by the end.

As with most of his works, the only witnesses are people directly involved in the process, in this case a photographer, a cameraman, and a small crew that followed him in a car in case of emergency and to provide shelter at night. As well as not being at all spectacular, He’s performances do not usually involve any physical training during preparation, so when he sets out overtly harsh rules for himself it is pure determination in action that we are witnessing. And this “goal” is enough.