Radical Acts

Xiao Lu. Dialogue. 1989 284

Chromogenic color print, printed 2006, 31 7/8 x 47 1/8" (81 x 119.7 cm). Gift of Bingyi Huang. © 2019 Xiao Lu

Kerry Downey: In February 1989, Xiao Lu took out a gun and shot at her own art during an exhibition opening at the National Art Museum in Beijing. Later, the media speculated that hers was the first shot fired in the Tiananmen Square uprising. Here’s the artist to tell you about it.

Artist, Xiao Lu: According to the record, I shot at 11:10 a.m. It was New Year's Eve on February 5, 1989. Later I learned that I made big trouble that day.

The genesis of Dialogue is my conflicting feelings about relationships. The idea of telephone booth came from the relationship between me and a guy. I often wanted to call him with the telephone at home, but I did not. I went outside to call him using telephone booth.

The original idea came from his hanging up on me while we were on the phone. A man is on the left, a woman is on the right. Look at the middle of the work, it is half of a man, half of a mirror, half of a woman, and half of a mirror.

The mirror needed a broken feeling. I got caught up in this idea. I wanted to shoot it.

I went to the art gallery early. There were three bullets in the gun. Everyone looked at me, and I raised the gun, shooting 2 shots. After shooting, I hid in the middle of several men and escaped from the back door of the gallery. Many riot police came out from the cars.

I was taken to a prison to be searched. All my things had been confiscated. I was interrogated many times that day. I was imprisoned in a small cell for 4 days.

Some foreign media explained the shooting as the first shot in the Tiananmen Square. However, in my opinion, it was a coincidence. I think that the work consists of two layers, the first layer is the original creative purpose. The other layer is the interpretation by society given the specific social context of the time. I accept all interpretations.

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