chinese contemporary art
Artists >> Zhu Ming

Zhu Ming's performance work deals with the passage of time, physical extremes, isolation and attempts at communication or the futility and ephemeral nature of these attempts. John Clark describes the work as a kind of conceptualism verging on Zen absorption into the object or into the trance of the performance.

He often performs inside a specially created balloon which, for example, during the performance May 8 1999 slowly fills with water. His body is covered with a fluorescent paint (probably toxic) and he paints the inside of the balloon with Chinese ink. The atmosphere inside the balloon causes the ink to disappear almost immediately and the artist's time in the balloon is constantly limited by the slow and steady filling of the balloon with water. Chinese ink is synonymous with the history of Chinese art signifying both rebellion and tradition, all of which is inseparable from the work of these young artists.

Zhu Ming was one of the artists who lived at Beijing East Village in the early 1990s. The East Village was considered the most experimental of the artists' villages in and around Beijing at that time and many artists from there have gone on to international renown. The art produced by the East Village artists already has a unique place among collections of contemporary Chinese art, the most famous work being the group performance The Anonymous Mountains raised by a Metre, 1995 in which Zhu Ming participated. The early performance works were outstanding in themselves but even more so for being produced in a vacuum of rigid social conformity. Other well known artists from this group are the performance artists Ma Liuming, Zhang Huan and the photographer Rong Rong.

* Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Vol. 1, No. 2, Summer/August 2002, pg. 24