Wen Hui, born in Yunnan in 1960, is a dancer, choreographer, documentary filmmaker and installation artist from China. Originally trained as a folk dancer, she attended the Choreography Department of the Beijing Dance Academy from 1985 to 1989 and was then a choreographer in the Oriental Song and Dance Ensemble of China (Dongfang gewutuan). In the 1990s, she studied modern dance in the United States and Europe, including at the Folkwang University in Essen and with Pina Bausch’s dance company in Wuppertal. In 1994, Wen Hui founded China’s first independent dance theatre group, the Living Dance Studio, together with filmmaker Wu Wenguang. Dance theatre is her means of intervening in society. In Report on Giving Birth (1999), the body is used as a strategy of resistance to portray the complexity of being a woman in the cultural and everyday context of our time. With Report on Body (2004) she and her team won the ZKB Prize of the Zürcher Theater Spektakel. With the support of the Goethe-Institut, the Living Dance Studio produced the piece Red in 2013, a reflection on the model opera as a political cultural symbol and part of the collective consciousness during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Wen Hui has participated in numerous independent Chinese and international festivals. Her works are shown at theatres, museums and art centres. She is presently working on I am Sixty, which will premiere in autumn 2021. Wen Hui lives in Beijing.
Statements on the conferrals
“Wen Hui stands for the independent and highly creative independent art scene in China, embodying cultural diversity and the broad spectrum of everyday stories beyond official narratives,” wrote the jury. “She tells ‘her’ stories of China through her sensitive, closely observed dance theatre pieces, which congenially combine different media, documentary elements and poetic power.”