Comment about “Little Secret”
In a flowered sundress and white sandals at her feet the artist stays in a room. On her arms she holds a 6 weeks old white rabbit. She is speaking to this cute animal but the spectator can’t understand what she is saying. Alone during long listening it gets clear it become apparent that the spoken words are reiterating.
Soon the view reminds on the happening “Explain the rabbit the pictures” by Joseph Beuys. Then the artist was carrying a dead rabbit in a room apart from the room of the audience and was telling things about the exposed paintings. Now Yingmei Duan let the rabbit revive.
For Beuys the animal was a symbol of reincarnation: “Because the rabbit makes this entirely real what the human only can do in mind. He digs himself, he digs a den.” (Zitat Beuys bei Panofsky 1975) Here the parallel to the performances of Yingmei Duan is getting obvious. Her work often picks out the searching for a possibility to escape from reality: to make a distance to the ambience, to the people and to the life in general.
In her performances she mostly avoids the direct contact to the audience. Often she looks like she would sleep, she burrows her body under lots of requisits and rarely employs tone and speech.
In her performance “Little Secret” she speaks to the rabbit in Chinese language so that the European spectator is not able to get a direct access. On the other side she works with universal signs and symbols. In that way the artist is creating an electrifying area between herself and the public. The young rabbit on her arm immediately affects feelings of fondness. The animal poses as her accomplice to win the favour of the audience. Coevally she takes the position pf a protector. What she is telling will be kept as a secret that binds the artist with the rabbit.
Beuys later declared in an interview that he didn’t want to talk about the paintings with the people. In the context of Beuys’ opus as well as in the performance of Yingmei Duan the rabbit is a connected person and a partner of the artist.