Gallery: Art Supermarket
Opening / Event Date: 21 Nov, 2019
Closing / End Date: 2 May, 2020
10 Chancery Lane Gallery is proud to present SKEW, a solo exhibition and new performance by Xiao Lu, one of China’s most provocative artists. This will be Xiao Lu’s first solo show in Hong Kong and will present an important survey of some of her most iconic performances. Xiao Lu’s recent works explore ways to break through the uncertainty of individual challenges as well as the challenges of art in her life. Xiao Lu’s latest performance SKEW, which will take place on September 12, has been created specifically for the Hong Kong environment. She will allow the unknown to guide the final outcome of the performance and embrace the unexpected events and risks that her performances embody, executed in her spontaneous and bold style.
Xiao Lu’s seminal experimental installation work “Dialogue”, exhibited at the National Art Museum of China’s 1989 China/Avant-Garde Exhibition, included an impromptu performance where she fired a handgun at her own installation; an act that led to the temporary closure of the exhibition. Occurring just a few months prior to the Tiananmen incident, “Dialogue” is often referred to as “the first shot of Tiananmen.” The China/Avant-Garde Exhibition, which provided a comprehensive view of the experimental works that emerged in Mainland China after 1985, was widely regarded as a pivotal moment in the history of contemporary Chinese art.
Xiao Lu is China’s first female performance artist and her work represents issues concerning her generation as a woman in China. In 1989, “Dialogue” addressed her personal struggle with sexual abuse and relationships. “15 Gunshots…From 1989 to 2003” was her cathartic release after 15 years of silence after creating “Dialogue” and coincided with her autobiographical novel of the same title. In Xiao Lu’s 2006 work, “Sperm” at which she invited donors to deposit their own sperm, was an effort to bring awareness to the fact that unmarried women in China are not allowed to undergo in-vitro fertilization, as well as to counter the psychological perception of men’s dominance with respect to reproductive rights. Although she failed to collect any sperm, addressing this issue through her art performance was a bold stance for a woman in China. Xiao Lu’s 2009 performance “Wedlock” served as her proxy wedding ceremony, where she emerged from a locked coffin and married herself; a seemingly absurd scene that questioned topics in relation to women such as relationships, marriage and issues of freedom. The feminist aspects raised in the works “Sperm” and “Wedlock” demonstrate how profoundly important this subject is to her as an artist.
Xiao Lu admits that she has a rebellious side to her character and that her performances are reliant on chance and spontaneity. In 2013, her performance “Purge” took place at a collateral event of the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale Di Venezia, after her original performance was refused permission by the venue, the Museo Diocesano of Venice on the grounds that nudity is not allowed in church. In protest, she took off her clothes during the opening ceremony and jumped into the canal. She explains, “… when a crucial moment like that happens, I can be a rebel: the more you oppress me, the more I will fight back. This is something to do with my character.”
Xiao Lu’s performances often include the unexpected. In 2016, the performance “Polar” took a dangerous turn. Xiao Lu had herself lowered into a cell of ice blocks, with only a knife in hand as her only way out. As she slashed at the ice, her hand slipped and the knife left a deep gash across her palm. Xiao Lu continued to chip away at the relentless ice, even as her wound bled profusely. Although unintended, the chance happening of her cutting herself only intensified and added to the extreme hardship and urgency of escaping the ice cells as she struggled for her freedom. She continued the performance for another 30 minutes until she was sent to the emergency room.