SLEEPING IN VAN GOGH MUSEUM (2005)

Featured Long Durational Work

Sleeping in Van Gogh Museum (2005), Yingmei Duan

Duration: Seven days (six hours a day)

Text by Yingmei Duan and Karina Kirnos
Cover photograph by Constanze Schmidt

This live performance by artist Yingmei Duan is inspired by Egon Schiele’s works exhibited in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Looking at Schiele’s self­-portraits, Yingmei Duan was reminded of dead bodies that had been buried for a very long time. The artist noticed that in all of the portrait photographs, Egon Schiele looked absent-minded, as if he is sleeping or dreaming. As she contemplated the paintings of Schiele, the artist often recognized herself in them. Whenever possible, Duan uses her time to sleep in order to be far away from the world and from life itself.

During the exhibition, Duan sleeps daily on a shelf in the space from 10am till 6pm for one week. She is wearing pajamas and sometimes appears as if she is sleepwalking or moving unconsciously.

Yingmei Duan performing in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2005.

Photograph by Constanze Schmidt



Yingmei Duan was born in China, and is part of the Chinese avant­garde. She worked as a painter for many years living in the legendary art district of Beijing’s East Village. In 1995 she participated in the performance To add one meter to an anonymous mountain, which is considered to be one of the classics of Chinese modern art. She became a pure performance artist under the influence of Marina Abramović, with whom she studied at the HBK Braunschweig in Germany from 2000 to 2004. There, she also worked for one year with the filmmaker and action artist Christoph Schlingensief. Yingmei Duan has made her name in numerous national and international exhibitions, festivals, residencies, lectures and workshops through her remarkable, thought provoking and emotional performance art. Her work has been shown in, among others Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam (2005), La Biennale di Venezia in Italy (2007) and Hayward gallery in London (2012). Upcoming exhibitions include the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014). Her website can be found here.