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On February 5, 1989, at the opening of the China Avant-Garde Exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, a young performance artist by the name of Xiao Lu fired two gunshots at her work, two telephone booths with figures engaged in conversation inside. Her act — part of the performance piece titled “Dialogue” — became synonymous with the exhibition, caused the entire show to be temporarily shut down, and contributed to her and her boyfriend’s arrest.
Madeline Eschenburg and Ellen Larson, both curators and students of Chinese contemporary art (and editors Open Ground Blog), are with us today to discuss this seminal moment in Chinese contemporary art. They are also the moderators of a Bookworm Literary Festival event on Sunday, March 29 called The Female Voice in Chinese Contemporary Art, a panel discussion featuring Philip Tinari, director of the Ullens Center of Contemporary Art in Beijing; Sun Shaokun, who explores her body in relation to nature; and the aforementioned Xiao Lu.
The panel was assembled by Mojdeh Shiek, a Bookworm Literary Festival organizer and special cohost of this episode, joining regular host Anthony Tao (disclosure: also a Bookworm Literary Festival organizer).
Together, they discuss issues ranging from live sex performances (art?) to the evolution of contemporary Chinese art (meaning?), from the “apartment art” of the 1990s to commercial art to art’s response to commercialism, and how the cycle is ever-fluid.