Qinmin Liu

Qinmin Liu / b. 1990, China / lives and works in New York


At the 5th Ural Biennial Qinmin Liu presents an immersive performance
«The Rite of Spring» (2019) (in collaboration with Ross McBee).


Trained as a dancer, Qinmin Liu’s multidisciplinary practices treat choreography as a language, a philosophy, and an approach to examine and engage the realities we experience. Her works are often autobiographical, referencing diverse cultural influences that have shaped her identity. Liu’s The Rite of Spring (2019), created for this exhibition, is an immersive 120-minute live performance, appropriating Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s ballet and orchestral masterpiece of the same name. Poetic, mystical, and savage, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1913) depicts a sacrificial virgin dancing herself to death in a Russian pagan ritual, and attempts to encapsulate the “mystery and great surge of the creative power of spring.”

Liu’s recontextualization features an international group of dancers, a grassy field blooming with electronic scraps as its stage, and silver robotic arms waving in sync in the background. The performance is a remix of diverse genres, including ballet, Russian folk dance, hip-hop, and contemporary dance. The work imbues the robotics with a human aura, unites technology with spirituality, and envisions a sensual yet uncanny technological future that embraces multiple cultural pasts. But what does the machine represent here? Is it an object of sacrifice from the remote past? Or is it mind-control master of the future? The Rite of Spring inherits the sinister undertone of the original work, asking viewers to identify the “virgin dancer” in this context and consider what may lurk behind the “creative power of spring.”