A personal diary of Chinese avant-garde art in the 1990s.
Photographs by Danwen Xing.
Schilt Publishing, 2010. 176 pp., 200 color and duotone illustrations, 6x8½".
When the unforgettable June 4 Tian'anmen incident took place in 1989, many artists participated, did performances and made installation works. After Tian'anmen, political pressures suppressed the art scene. Nonetheless, in the winter of 1989, Beijing held its first exhibition of Chinese contemporary art in the National Gallery. At the opening of the exhibition, a public performance of a gun shooting of a telephone booth caused a traumatic scandal in the art world in China. It was the first officially recognized performance in China's art history. At that time, Xing Danwen was watching it all with a questioning eye.
The 1990s became the most exciting period of performance and installation art, and it proved to be the transition of China from a traditional art scene to a more international presence. In the early 1990s many artists who worked as painters started taking off their clothes, and performing naked in public. They brought revolution to the tradition and sought out more avant-garde forms of art. Conceptually, Danwen's interest and idea was to create a body of work on the theme of the generation born in the 60s, which is about and related to herself. Many of the photographs were taken because the artists invited Danwen personally to document their actions; others were photographed for European magazine publications. In fact it wasn't Danwen's intention to make a book at that time. Later she realized they were a remarkable documentation of a key period in Chinese contemporary art. She decided to accumulate the photographs from her archive and organize them into a book project. In the meantime most of the artists in her book have become very successful and highly recognized figures. They play an important role in the contemporary art world in China.
Wo Men are two separate Chinese characters. Wo means me, and Men means us. So this book is about the artist and Xing Danwen. Besides photographs, it comprises a text written by herself about her personal experience-exploration-struggle for art and life at the time, and also descriptive narratives about the artists and their lives, the social situation and political background, and information on the underground art scene happenings.
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