chinese contemporary art
Artists >> Ma Liuming

Ma Liuming is part of the artistic generation which developed in the cynical aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. In 1993 Ma Liuming and other artists established the artists' colony known as Beijing East Village which became known for performance art and photography. In 1994 while realising a performance in the village, Ma Liuming was arrested by the Beijing police and held in prison for two months charged with pornography. Most of his early work was confiscated at that time. The other artists fled and Beijing East Village ceased to exist. During its short life Beijing East Village was regarded as the most experimental of the artists' communities in the Chinese capital.

Ma Liuming's performance personage is Fen.Maliuming, a nude, transgender creation. Taking advantage of his striking appearance the artist creates Fen.Maliuming with a man's body and a woman's face. Fen.Maliuming, produces an arresting visual impact which challenges the conventions of Chinese art, society, and the individual. His remarkable creativity and ingenuity are particularly interesting given that they were developed in a vacuum of rigid social conformity and repression. Through his performances Ma Liuming addresses questions of gender and sexuality, the ambiguity between male and female, between appearance and actuality which he believes exists in everyone. Ma Liuming offers contradictions and provokes the viewer to negotiate the boundaries of accepted divisions. Audience participation in his performances ensures a spectacularly direct confrontation with the artist and these issues.

Ma Liuming was selected for the 1999 Venice Biennale by the Biennale director Harald Szeemann, both for his paintings and performance work. He has been widely received in Europe, North America and Japan. Chinese Contemporary gave Ma Liuming his first solo exhibition in 1996, at the time only his second exhibition outside China. His second exhibition with Chinese Contemporary was in June 1999, just before the Venice Biennale. The performance he did at that time, to open his exhibition, is recorded in the catalogue of the Kwangju Biennale, 2000. We assisted Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm who have given Ma Liuming a solo exhibition in 2001.