(East Village)
Artist group
The actual name of Dongcun, or East Village, is Datou cun, a village situated in the eastern suburbs of Beijing. In the early 1990s, a group of young artists moved there either from other parts of the city, like Zhang Huan, who was then studying oil painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, or, like Ma Liuming and Zhu Min, from other parts of China to try their luck in the capital. They rented old peasant houses which functioned as their living quarters, studios and private showrooms. To help their public find the location of the shows and remember the name of the group, the artists decided to call themselves ‘Dongcun’, a geographical reference to their location that also established a cultural connection with New York’s East Village, an international art hub considered to be the most significant space for the creation of cutting-edge experimental art.
This group of artists was unknown to the public until late in 1993, when Zhang Huan’s performance at the China Art Gallery (Zhongguo meishuguan) caused the cancellation of a group show. Most of the artists worked independently, but they also collaborated, as in the performance Adding One Metre to an Anonymous Mountain (1994), organized by Zhang Huan, in which seven naked men and two naked women artists stacked themselves on top of one another on a mountain top in suburban Beijing to underline the possibility of individual acts of will and self-empowerment, notwithstanding its meaninglessness. By the mid 1990s some of the artists had begun to move out of the village, and by the end of the decade most had relocated elsewhere.
See also: art exhibitions (experimental, 1990s); 798
Qian Zhijian (1999). ‘Performing Bodies: Zhang Huan, Ma Liuming and Performance Art in China’. Art Journal 58.2 (Summer): 60–81.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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