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Apply to Hug A Stranger for 20 Minutes In the Name of Art

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It is what it says it is.


Beijing-based art duo The Gao Brothers are recruiting volunteers to participate in their latest site-specific interactive performance. The piece, entitled “Embrace: The Utopia of Hugging for 20 Minutes,” will feature 60 strangers hugging. For 20 minutes. It is what it says it is.

The brothers, Gao Qiang and Gao Zhen, have actually been doing hug-based performances around the world since 2000: across China and Hong Kong, but also in London, Nottingham, Marseilles, Arles, Berlin, and Tokyo, among others. According to the curators at New York’s RH Gallery, where the brothers are currently showing, the pieces — taken together, they make up “The Hugging Project” — are about challenging “taboos of public interaction, gender roles, and sexuality.” It’s cuddly, yes, but it’s also political. These are, after all, the same artists who are known for huge, stylized sculptures of Madame Mao’s breasts. (And accordingly, who are frequently in trouble with the Chinese government.) 

But while The Hugging Project has been in progress for more than 10 years now, this performance marks the brothers’ New York debut, running as part of the gallery’s “Outside the Lines: New Art From China” group show. 

Want in? This is your chance — Complex says the Gaos happen to be looking for qualified, New York huggers. Just send your name, age, and country of origin to rhcainfo@rh.com. No guarantees — they’re only taking 60 — but give it a shot. It’s an opportunity worth embracing.