Song abruptly stopped making art in 1989, after China’s violent military response to the Tiananmen Square protests. Though he had been trained as a painter, he turned to performance, photography, and video installation when he resumed making art a few years later. For his performance Breathing, the artist laid face down on the ground of Tiananmen Square in subzero conditions, remaining for forty minutes until the condensation from his breath formed a thin layer of ice. When he repeated the act on the frozen surface of Lake Houhai, an artificial lake in Beijing, the ice remained intact. These performances embodied the conflict between the individual and stronger natural forces.
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