Critical Writing Index

Objectivity, Absurdity, and Social Critique

by Michael Zheng

Yishu-Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art , Jan 12, 2009, v. 8.5, pp. 47-61

This interview with curator and critic Hou Hanru, was conducted by the conceptual and performance artist Michael Zheng and accompanies the show entitled “impossible! Eight Chinese Artists Engage Absurdity” which took place at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery and MISSION 17 in 2009. The discussion maps the beginning of video art is China, and how similarly to the west, video art developed alongside performance art. They discuss how that it was in the mid-eighties that performance and conceptual work were introduced in China. Within this period, and following it, artists became involved with art making as protest, often challenging the propaganda art of the Cultural Revolution. They examine how contemporary works by Chinese artists and how video as medium allows for immediacy and allows for a portrayal of reality and or the creation/capturing of an alternative.

ITEM 2009.171 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

WATER— Standard Version from the Dictionary Ci Hai, (1991)Zhang Peili

30 x30 (1988)Zhang Peili

Document on “Hygiene No. 3,” (1991)Zhang Peili

Forever (1997)Zhu Jia

Shout (1998)Xu Zhen

Will Die, (2000–04)Yang Zhenzhong

History of Chemistry II, Excessively Restrained Mountaineering Enthusiasts, 2006,Lu Chunsheng

hey, Lana, 2000Lu Chunsheng

Groundbreaking, 2003Michael Zheng

urban Fiction, Image No.13Xing Danwen

The Face, 2004,Ni Haifeng

Speaking, Communication, and HumanityYang Jiechang/Hou Hanru

Nam June Paik

Bruce Nauman

Huang Yong Ping

Joseph Beuys


Wu Wenguang

Wen Pulin

burning of artwork after an exhibition on November 23, 1986.Jia Zhangke

Xiamen Dada

FountainWu Shanzhuan

Marcel Duchamp

Wang Guangyi

Gu Wenda

Song Dong

Yang Fudong

Lu Chunsheng

Chen Xiaoyun

Shi Qing

Wang Jianwei

Wu Ershan

Yin Xiuzhen

Yang Zhenzhong

Xu Zhen

Song Tao

Lin Yi Lin

Chen Shaoxiong

Liang Ju Hui

Xu Tan

Kan Xuan

Liang Yue

Cao Fei

Shen Yuan

Yin Xiuzhen

Kan Xuan

Qiu Anxiong

Tang Maohong

Sun Xun

Gu Dexin

Chen Shaoxiong

Yang Zhenzhong

Yang Yong

Cao Fei

He Yong

Xing Danwen

Ma Liuming

Zhang Huan

Ni Haifeng