Artists: Zhu Ming 1994

Zhu Ming was one of the youngest artists living in Beijing East Village. His petite posture and delicate facial features made his childlike appearance even more appealing. Perhaps that was a reason behind one of Zhu’s first performances in the East Village, Bubbles. It was carried out on 30 April 1994. Referring to the children’s game of blowing bubbles, the artist installed a glass container filled with liquid soap on an easel. The container had a plastic tube into which Zhu blew air, thus producing billows of transparent soap bubbles that filled the room. A mirror situated on the floor enhanced the surreal impression of space being filled with foam.

At the beginning of the 2000s, the cycle Bubbles adopted a more developed form. By way of manifesting the concept of energy (qi), the artist expressed his personal narrative while interacting with the environment through his nude performance inside a translucent plastic bubble. Enclosed in this translucent bubble, then placed in different locations such as floating on the sea or promenading with various sites as backdrops, imitating a journey through the landscape, can recall for us Chinese landscape painting. The titles of subsequent works are the dates and times when the performances took place. Unlike Ma Liuming and Zhang Huan, Zhu has acquired a strong signification of his nude performance within the plastic bubble that is poetic and meditative in nature. The artist’s nudity is devoid of political undertones. He locks himself inside a spherical bubble in search of peace of mind or in order to escape from the world, showing the reality of modern-day China in the background.

Born in 1972 in the Hunan province, Zhu Ming currently lives and works in Beijing. As with Ma and Zhang, Zhu moved to Beijing East Village in 1993 and became an active member in the community. With Ma, Zhu tried to organize performance-art activities to facilitate its development in 1999 and 2000, respectively. His performances have been seen around the world, including in London at the Tate Modern, the V&A Museum and ICA.

(Theresa Liu / Magda Lipska)

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