Hu Yinping: A Prehistoric Playing Field in Lenghu

I recently went to Lenghu, where Qinghai meets Gansu and Xinjiang. Once an oil city, Lenghu is now a Mars simulation area. Mongolian and Tibetan ethnic groups, as well as various mining projects for natural gas, mirabilite, rock salt, potassium chloride, and lithium chloride, all converge here. It was in this place that we unearthed relics of a civilization in which people picked crystals on the mountains as food. The larger humans picked the high-energy crystals at the top of the mountain, and the smaller humans excavated coarse crystals at the foot of the mountain. Similar to the way that oil comes from the remains of plants and animals, humans transformed into various kinds of gems, jades, and granite after they died. Essentially, the rocks that are visible in the real world are the mother and grandmother rocks of this civilization and form the genealogy of an “ethnicity.” The crystal people developed a series of rituals that venerated an individual’s body; their excrement, hard as rocks, served as currency, and it was customary for two people to shake feet upon meeting because that was the softest part of the body. Their most serious punishment was to restrain or otherwise restrict the movement of the body; they used the bones of their ancestors as proof of their identities.

It’s hard to imagine that, in the course of the Earth’s formation, this kind of mineral life once existed.

Archaeological research has revealed that a newly excavated ceramic plate  depicts a playing field between humans and animals. Perhaps this was the place where the crystal people competed with ursine force, feline speed, and equine endurance. ​Another piece depicts an arena for the crystal people and the centipede creatures. The centipede creatures were a symbiotic species that helped the smaller people excavate crystals. When they curled up, they became spheres and looked a bit like pangolins. On the playing field, humans determined the winner by the number of centipede creatures seized. However, this game became more complicated because of the personal relationships that formed between the centipede creatures and some athletes. Their free agency on the playing field made the course of the game difficult to anticipate, much like the geography and climate of the place.

Translated from the Chinese by Bridget Noetzel.

Hu Yinping was born in a township suburb of Sichuan in 1983, and currently lives and works in Beijing. Despite earning her MFA at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2010, Hu Yinping rarely works in sculpture. Instead, she channels chance meetings and fortuitous situations into insightful scenarios. Her solo exhibitions were held at Arrow Factory, Beijing (2016, 2018), Space Number 3, Chengdu (2016) and MoCube, Beijing (2016). She has also participated in group exhibitions such as Para Site, Hong Kong (2021), Kommunale Galerie, Berlin (2017) and Pace Beijing (2014).

Bridget Noetzel is a translator, editor, and art consultant based in Hong Kong. She received a BA in both Chinese Language and the History of Art from Yale University. Since 2009, she has worked with galleries and artists in Beijing and Hong Kong, and she has translated and edited for major publications, institutions, and auction houses. In 2017, she co-founded the Asia Photography Project. She was the translator for Yi Ying’s history of modern Chinese art, entitled Art and Artists in China 1949-Present (Cambridge University Press, 2018).


平行奥运 Olympic Reveries

In tandem with the Tokyo Olympics, Heichi Magazine is hosting a parallel assembly of artist essays. Olympic Reveries emphasizes the cultural spaces opened up by sports and the illusion of spatiotemporal unity created by live broadcasts. We invited artists to extend the ideas of athleticism and national culture into their practices and speculate on real or imagined games that present values different from those of mainstream sporting events.

Centipede creatures playing field: the center of the field is a ring pond and the place of storing centipede creatures, the tournament is about scrambling centipede creatures to the four corners of the field

Photograph courtesy of Wang Che

Published: 2021.07.30