Liverpool Biennial 2006: Yang Jiechang

Yang Jiechang Give Me Empty Areas of Liverpool for 33 Years that We Can Fill. Canton 2006

Yang’s new work is an exercise in urban acupuncture. Approaching the city as a living body, his work addresses the flow of energy within the city, intervening at points of perceived blockage in an effort to restore and rebalance the city as a whole. In contrast to Yang’s native China, the last fifty years have seen a marked decline in Liverpool’s population. While a small growth in recent years suggests that this trend is being reversed, the population still remains half what it was 50 years ago with vacant properties in the city three times the national average. For Yang, these empty neglected areas of the city offer key points for intervention. His work maps these areas within the fabric of the city, and through careful application of needles, attempts to reintegrate redundant limbs with the whole, freeing blockages to channel trapped energy into the present.

In 1997, Britain’s 99-year lease of Hong Kong’s New Territories (bordering Yang’s birthplace, Guangdong province) expired. Yang views his work as a reversal of this historic tenancy. Taking up temporary residence in the empty spaces of another former centre for British colonial trade, Yang uses ancient Chinese practices to reanimate British space.