None of the artists were surprised when the original show was shut down. Exhibitions were regularly being shuttered at the time. “I was prepared for this circumstance,” said
, one of the artists who took part. Before everyone could be kicked out, he said, “I immediately browsed the works of other artists at the exhibition after I heard the news.”
Among the images was Chen’s own photograph of miniature figures set against unnerving landscapes—a couple drinking tea inside a gutted fish, a fisherman pushing a small boat into the joint of a butchered bone. There was
’s wry, anti-consumerist diptych of women staring at a man’s crotch, only to discover, from the reverse angle, the labels of fashion brands—Calvin Klein, Versace, DKNY, and so on—clustered over his fly in place of a bulge.
’s Cycle Aerobics I (1999) featureda montage of lovers sharing a bike in myriad positions; like something straight out of a rom-com, they were suggestive somehow of both innocence and sex positions.
For his work,
, another artist from the original show, used pictures of different bends of the human body to create a full circle. He called the image Sewer (1999).
Highlights include a site-specific installation using Post-it notes printed with photographs by Xu Zhen; Hu Jieming’s “Postcards” series (2002), in which he remixes Chinese landmarks with his own images; and
’s Content-Aware, the Five Pillars of Awareness: Reclaiming Ownership of Your Mind, Body and Future (2016), a large installation that utilizes what she described to me in a previous interview as her “tacky Taobao aesthetic,” referring to the e-commerce site that helped make vast numbers of Chinese people virtual shopkeepers. Ying’s installation is composed of wall-sized, digitally printed landscapes with supersaturated blue skies, green grass, and fluffy white clouds—the sort of scene found on Windows desktops, the billboards around Chinese construction sites, and nowhere else in urban China. The words “Reclaiming Ownership of Your Mind, Body and Future” are printed over the scene, satirizing the slogans the Chinese Communist Party tags all over the country.