How i Got Fucked in Norway, Snowed in Swiss, Kissed in Paris and Driven Crazy by Babylove

My notes from Shu Lea Cheang’s talk at Transmediale “How i Got Fucked in Norway, Snowed in Swiss, Kissed in Paris and Driven Crazy by Babylove.”

As part of the panel on Transgression, the artist talked about her most “transgressive” art pieces.

Her Fluid movie project was about geneticaly engineered cures against AIDS. The movie is set in 2030, when a certain breed of people has started to produce a sexual fluid, called milk, containing a potent mix of endorphines. The government wants to control the drug traffic. The people who can produce milk are also declared illegal and hunted down by state/corporation. Milk is the white fluid for the 21st century, just like the white powder dominated the 20th century high. The film never saw the light but instead became a conceptual art project.


In 2004, Shu Lea Cheang created an installation inspired by the aborted movie for the Detox music festival in Norway. In a darkened space, seven urinoirs lined one wall, each lit by miniature projectors aimed so that videos appeared over the drains. The center urinal showcased goldfish swimming in a bowl. The videos in the flanking urinals showed a tight shot of a contracting and distending anus that seemed to be squirming. Ropped into the drains, were condoms that looked heavy with jism. (via Art in America)

In Norway, porn is illegal but the artist nevertheless organised a porn casting session inside a tent (images) for her Fluid project.


The casting was cancelled by law and the tent never finished. She was threatened to get a huge fine if she persisted and the curator of the festival would have run into troubles as well. But the press loved the story and wrote about it in a sensationalist way: “Sex tent” at music festival stirs debate, Music festival pulls plug on live sex film, etc. The misadventure also caused much debate in Norway about the censorship of art projects.


After that, the Swiss 56K bastard TV asked her to make a webchannel inspired by television. She decided she’d make a sex channel (sex slot only after midnight). But one week before opening, the curators got into trouble with the guys who funded the project. The channel was deemed too explicit and the artist was told that the website shouldn’t be made public. As it was the second time that year that she had such problems, she agreed to make a second version of the project. Viewers would have to click before being able to get into the adult area where every image is “snowed.” Milk brings the number of deaths from AIDS in Africa in connection with the availability of pornographic images on the Internet. It shows sex pictures that are accessible to everyone on the Internet in small format and strongly alienated by a “pixel filter”. The work does not create these pictures but puts them in the context of the artistic statement through programming on the surface of its own website.


After that Cheang wanted nothing to do with sex and instead worked on “love projects.” LoveMe2030 (edition Paris 2005) is about Europeans who fear the enlargement of the European Union. While some accept the arrival of the new Europeans, the tension of the urban mix is recounted in the collective tangled love stories left unfulfilled. By the year 2030, the good life seeking New Europeans are expected to return to their homeland where the living standards would rise up. In anticipating the exodus of reverse migration, LOVEME2030 wishes to defer the unfinished love stories until year 2030.

Two young LOVEME agents, sent from Tokyo, are transported to Paris on a mission. They infiltrate Paris’ LOVEME underground in the night, take reservation for rendezvous2030, the grand love hotel.

Here again, the artist had trouble with the police while they were shooting in the metro.

So her most recent work was meant as her “purest piece”, she wanted no trouble at all this time. BabyLove consists of 6 big teacups and 6 clone babies. Visitors can upload mp3 love songs for baby’s ME-data. But right before the opening of the show at the Palais de Tokyo, in Paris, three “pornographic ” songs were detected in her selection and she had to remove them from the list.