Artist with Arousing Name Objectifies Penis for Art

Interview by
Tom Masters

During the performance of ‘Demolished Chair’, Taiwanese artist Lan Hungh disguises himself within the frame of an old armchair in the hopes that people will sit on him and use him. Hungh’s flaccid penis is the only body part that’s visible, and becomes hard as soon as anyone starts discussing the chair or sitting on it. Rooted in the artist’s own fetish for being objectified, the piece is as disconcerting and bizarre as it is funny. After seeing it performed at a recent art opening in Kreuzberg, BUTT Berlin reporter Tom Masters went to meet Mr Hungh at his Prenzlauer Berg studio in Berlin.

Tom: What brought you from Taiwan to Berlin?
Lan Hungh: I lived in Paris for four years, and decided to come to Berlin to have a different lifestyle. I like the art scene in Berlin as I can produce something more personal and trashy, more open minded and fun than anything that would be possible in Paris.
And what inspired the idea behind ‘Demolished Chair’?
‘Demolished Chair’ was first performed at .HBC, a great art and party venue in Berlin. There are many small rooms, which inspired me to create a semi-intimate but still public situation. I often feel too shy and want to hide myself in public, and I have always been playful, so I thought that I should disguise myself as a chair in order to allow people to feel comfortable having contact with me. I think I was also influenced by Japanese porn, a mixture of innocence, dirtiness and being manipulated to make people laugh.
What is the reaction most people have to the performance?
Normally people see a chair and they ignore it, they think it’s junk. But once they see the penis protruding they begin to be interested and call other people over to come and sit on it. In a well-lit gallery space, usually nothing more happens, as it’s too public, but some people touch my dick, and seem amazed at how real it is, as they imagine it’s not a real one. It looks very strange when you separate a part of the body from the rest of it. It looks like a toy. The last time I performed the chair though, I got a blowjob from somebody.
Have you ever used the penis chair in a purely sexual scenario?
It wouldn’t be as exciting as in a public situation. The exhibitionist side of me can be explored only when it’s in public. In the same way it only turns me on when sex is in the context of art, for example I enjoy seeing nudity far more in a normal or art movie than in a porn.
It strikes me that the chair is a bit like a glory hole, only one you’re not in control of…
Yeah, I like the idea of a glory hole, but I have never actually tried one.
I don’t know where I can find a glory hole in Berlin. But I like this separation of body and face. I’m anonymous. People don’t know who I am, so they can only judge me by my dick. I feel more comfortable with that.
To be judged by your dick rather than your face or your body?
It’s maybe because I’m Asian and sometimes I don’t really have confidence in front of white people.
Why is that?
It’s just the feeling of being part of a minority in European society, although I have confidence in my body. I find it sexy and can get excited just watching myself, but I prefer to hide my face.
How did your furniture fetish begin?
I have had this fetish since I was very young. I always wanted to be invisible in some way because I was very shy and I couldn’t talk to anybody. To make myself into an object was the only way I could overcome this.

This is Ian Hungh’s face.

Really? You don’t seem that shy now.
Now of course I am socialised, but when I was a child I didn’t speak at all and I developed fantasies of being invisible. When I was at school I fell in love with people extremely easily, but I was too shy to say anything. I just observed guys and had fantasies of being at home with each of them and simply watching them. It’s not so much that I wanted to be invisible so much as I had to be because I was so shy. I simply needed to be objectified by other men.
Did you play with or fantasize about furniture growing up in Taiwan?
The fantasy was always being the object. Of course I like furniture, who doesn’t? When I masturbated I used furniture – I remember the first time that I came was with a pillow. I was playing helicopter…
You know, spinning the pillow on the top of my dick
Like spinning a plate? Wow, that’s unorthodox. I have never heard of the helicopter technique.
I invented it. The first thing people do when they are bored is to invent new ways to masturbate. I remember that when I was at someone’s house and they were out, I would enjoy playing with their furniture sexually. Of course I didn’t make it dirty, but I’d enjoy the feeling of treating their furniture like this and them not knowing about it.
What did you do?
Well with couches, I’d use the space between the pillows to pleasure myself.
You’d fuck a sofa?
Yeah. It’s funny, you have to pick your position carefully, but it’s quite possible and feels really good.
Are sofas the best kind of furniture to fuck? How do they compare to chairs or a table?
A table? a chair? No. Chairs are bad, in Taiwan all chairs are made of bamboo, they are too hard to fuck. It wasn’t until I came to Europe that I saw soft chairs.
So soft things?
Yeah of course, things with pillows. I like to think about how the owner of the furniture treats it while I fuck it. Perhaps the owner sits on it, or makes love on it.
So it’s also the past life of a piece of furniture that turns you on?
Yeah, it’s like the gathering of memories and I want to be part of it.

To get to know more about Lan Hungh’s work, readers are
kindly advised to visit

Published on 06 April 2011