Radical Acts

Xiao Lu. Dialogue. 1989 284

Chromogenic print, printed 2006, 31 7/8 × 47 1/8" (81 × 119.7 cm). Gift of Bingyi Huang. © 2023 Xiao Lu

Artist, Xiao Lu: My name is Xiao Lu. My work Dialogue was selected to take part in the China Avant-Garde exhibition in February 1989. This exhibition was held in the National Art Museum of China, Beijing.

The original concept of this work grew out of the emotional difficulties between young men and the women. In those days, there were no private telephones in China, and to make a personal call, one had to find the public telephone in the street. At the time I was going through an abnormal relationship. As you can see in this work, a couple was engaged in that phone call. The dialogue was not going smoothly.

There were many conflicting emotions in my mind. On the day of opening, at about 11:10 a.m. I raised the gun. I fired two shots aiming at the mirror.

After sounds of gunfire, it was chaos. Plainclothes police officers began to arrest people. As soon as I saw the situation turning ugly. I went out through the back door. Without thinking, I got on a public bus and then rode it for several round trips until I saw that there were no people left in the museum square. I felt that one should take responsibility for one's actions. After 4 p.m. I went to the National Art Museum to turn myself in. Then I was taken to a Detention Center. I went in on the eve of the New Year and I was released on the third day of the new year. Making four days altogether.

Four months later the Tiananmen incident took place in Beijing. At the time, the student wanted a dialogue with the government, and the title of my work was just that, “Dialogue”. And my work became known as the first gunshots of Tiananmen.
I believe that the more interpretations our work is open to, the more powerful it can be.

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