26 July 2002, 2002

Zhu Ming
26 July 2002, 2002


Zhu Ming was born in 1972 in Changsha, Hunan Province (South China). Since 1991, Zhu Ming lives and works in Beijing. Having worked with painting since the first half of the 1990's, Zhu Ming eventually became interested in performance art. First, from 1993 to 1995, Zhu Ming conducted many solo performances and participated in several group performances together with other artists at the 'Beijing East Village'. Most importantly, these group performances included the 1995 performance" To Add Another Meter to an Anonymous Mountain". This performance, which was performed at a mountain region near Beijing also included the artists Cang Xin, Ma Liuming, and Zhang Huan. During the following years, Zhu Ming continued to stage a wide range of large and small scale performances, both in China and also abroad. Most prominent amongst these international events is Zhu Ming's participation in the 1999 Nippon International Performance Art Festival, when he staged a series of live performances in Tokyo, Nagano, Matsumoto, Osaka, and Nagoya. In 2000, Zhu Ming further staged live performances at the Travel 2000 Art Festival in Hong Kong, and at the Hong Kong-Berlin Festival in Germany. Starting in August 2000 Zhu Ming moreover organised and participated in the Ist Open Air Performance Art Platform, followed in August 2001 by the 2nd Open Air Performance Art Platform. This time the event was held near the city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province. Apart from participating in these events, many photographs and video documenting his earlier performance works have featured at a number of important group exhibitions in China and overseas. Including at the Fuck Off exhibition in the Eastlink Gallery in Shanghai (2000); Cut In at the China Art Archives and Warehouse in Beijing (2002); and Art/Miami 2002. In early March 2003, Zhu Ming will further stage a series of live performances in Australia, as part of the Liquid Sea exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney. In the United Kingdom, Zhu Ming's work are represented by Chinese Contemporary, London.

A series of photographs and video documentation of one of Zhu Ming's most recent tperformances, entitled" July 26 2002". For this performance, Zhu Ming used 30 plastic bubbles, ranging in size from 2m to 4m diameter which were free-floating of the coast of Shandong Province in the east of China. In one of the bubbles the artist is seen drifting on the surface of the dark blue ocean.

This performance forms part of an ongoing project, which he started working on in 1994, and for which Zhu Ming is seeking the tranquil moment of life before being born. Here Zhu Ming places himself in a bubble and floats freely on the water, as if returning to sleep in the mother's womb: " ... the place where reality and illusion truly exist side by side, and where life and death come together in an ultimate 'bubble'."

In performance, or rather 'body-art' practices, the artist's body often becomes the central point at which the physical and the social meet and collapse. Many of Zhu Ming's works reveal a process between the stress and pain imposed on 'public' body/flesh, and the generally more 'private' conceived artists body/self, internalized in the form of physical endurance, which is often followed by transcendence of the body/flesh. These themes can also be seen in the second series of photographs, under the title Luminescent Man (2001). For this performance Zhu Ming has used fluorescent powder to cover his entire body, and after several minutes of exposure the artist's body becomes a radiant light source which fills the darkened space.

Thomas Berghuis

Related Content