Zhu Ming

Article Bio
Asia, Eastern
created on:
July 11, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since September 22, 2003. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Zhu Ming
The artist Zhu Ming performances are highly original. © Wahidur Rahman Khandkar Czhoton


Bubbling performance

Zhu Ming performs inside a bubble. Zhu Ming´s performance work deals with the passage of time, physical extremes, isolation and attempts at communication or the futility and ephemeral nature of these attempts. John Clark describes the work as a kind of conceptualism verging on Zen absorption into the object or into the trance of the performance.
Zhu Ming is known for his performances involving bubbles, starting from his marathon bubble-blowing performances to his present performances inside huge specially constructed plastic bubbles.
"The air inside the bubble and outside is the same", he says.

In one reading of his work, the bubbles represent the fragile divisions of class, race, nationality which separate people from one another. More abstractly, the bubbles represent to Zhu Ming the way that illusions make themselves seen in the natural world. Bubbles hover at the boundary between reality and illusion, between the natural world and the inner world of imagination. They are, in their transience, full of potential but difficult to capture in time, in space or, it seems, in words. This sense of eternally escaping illusion is strengthened and made more real through his work.

He often performs inside a specially created balloon which, for example, during the performance May 8 1999 slowly fills with water. His body is covered with a fluorescent paint (probably toxic) and he paints the inside of the balloon with Chinese ink. The atmosphere inside the balloon causes the ink to disappear almost immediately and the artist´s time in the balloon is constantly limited by the slow and steady filling of the balloon with water. Chinese ink is synonymous with the history of Chinese art signifying both rebellion and tradition, all of which is inseparable from the work of these young artists.

Zhu Ming was one of the artists who lived at Beijing East Village in the early 1990s. The East Village was considered the most experimental of the artists´ villages in and around Beijing at that time and many artists from there have gone on to international renown. The art produced by the East Village artists already has a unique place among collections of contemporary Chinese art, the most famous work being the group performance The Anonymous Mountains raised by a Metre, 1995 in which Zhu Ming participated. The early performance works were outstanding in themselves but even more so for being produced in a vacuum of rigid social conformity. Other well known artists from this group are the performance artists Ma Liuming, Zhang Huan and the photographer Rong Rong.
Author: Karin Berguist


Born in Changsha, Hunan Province
1991 Engaged in practicing art in Beijing

1993 Exhibition of Zhu Ming Modern Art in Beijing

1994 German 100 Years Modern Art Commemoration Exhibition

1995 Advanced Art Exhibition for Performance Works of China, from Tokyo to New York to Fukuoka

1997 Demonstration of Video Art 1997 China

1998 Guangdong International Experimental Theater Modern Arts Festival

1999 6th NIPAF International Performance Art Festival, Nagano-Matsumoto-Osaka-Nagoya, Japan
"Poly Phendrene" Exhibition, Beijing