During the period marked by the 1989 student protests in Tiananmen Square, many artists in China produced works that captured the insurgent spirit of the time. Artists used a range of new techniques and staged provocative, sometimes absurdist actions, like firing a gun at their own installation, lathering a chicken with soap, or lighting fireworks sewn into their jeans. These defiant artworks marked a new sense of agency and international dialogue, and challenged the Chinese government’s censorship of cultural production. With an increasing interest in mediums like performance and video, artists reflected on the tension between individualism and collectivism. Others, responding to radical socioeconomic shifts and rampant urbanization, produced art that explored nature, land, territory, and conditions of impermanence.
Organized by Roxana Marcoci, The David Dechman Senior Curator, Department of Photography, with Giampaolo Bianconi, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance.