- Last Updated on Saturday, 20 April 2013 18:56
British Chinese artists Cai Yuan and J J Xi, self-styling as Mad For Real, announced plans to stage a Soya Sauce and Ketchup fight in front of Tate Britain, Millbank, on Sunday 4 March 2012, writes Sajid Rizvi.
Cai Yuan and J J Xi have been doing this on and off for a few years. The soy sauce is a salty reference to the artists' diasporic roots and the Chinese community's backround in catering, certainly a stereotype that lingers in the minds of many of their intended mainstream audience. It's no exaggeration to suggest that, at least for some British mainstream people, a Chinese meal is the nearest they'll ever get to the Chinese community in Britain or their living traditions.
The ketchup is meant to complete the narrative as a quintessential, all-purpose British condiment.
Cai Yuan and JJ Xi staged their first Soya Sauce and Ketchup Fight in Trafalgar Square during demonstrations to protest global capitalism in 2000 -- years before the latest meltdown in 2008. That performance was filmed and the video went round various institutions.
The artists have performed in different countries and locations including the Liverpool Biennial 2002, the Prague Biennale 2003, Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt, Berlin 2006, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark 2007, Thessaloniki Biennale, Greece 2009, and the Gwangju Museum of Modern Art, Korea 2010.
Two Artists Jump on Tracey Emin’s Bed, their intervention at Tracey Emin's exhibition at Tate Britain, 1999, is essentially what made Cai Yuan and JJ Xi famous. Two Artists Piss on Duchamp’s Urinal, 2000, a performance attempted at Tate Modern's prized exhibit but not completed due to a protective vitrine, gave them further prominence. (They did aim correctly but their liquid projectiles were thwarted by Perspex).
Despite the seeming silliness of the artists' acts, the interventions have successfully triggered further discussion on art and artefact and the processes that art theory employs in consuming what, at first, seems to challenge it, most notoriously in the case of Marcel Duchamp's 1917 Fountain, never actually exhibited and eventually lost, then replicated in prototypes by the artist and others.
Both Cai Yuan and J J Xi trained as artists and have a background in drawing, painting, installation and performance art, but seem to have found they can express themselves more effectively through events such as the Soya Sauce and Ketchup Fight and other acts that get them into media headlines.
The audience for the latest Soya Sauce and Ketchup fight is invited to participate by bringing along their own soya sauce or ketchup or both. Kick-off time: 12 noon. Tate Britain front entrance, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG.