Wang Gongxin

Article Bio Works Projects
children & youth, myth, prejudice
Performing Arts (installation)
Visual Arts (video art)
Asia, Eastern
created on:
July 17, 2003
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since April 28, 2006. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Wang Gongxin
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Chinese myths between east and west

Wang Gongxin is a Chinese artist, working mainly with video installations on myths between USA and China, children and parents, real and unreal.
Wang Gongxin has been quite concerned with the interface between Chinese and Western culture, in terms of content and of his transmission of "Western" artistic ideas to his peers.

For example, his piece "The Sky of Brooklyn: Digging a Hole in Beijing" (1995) was one of the first site-specific installations in China. The site happened to be Wang´s personal residence, where he commissioned workers to dig a hole three meters deep and place in it a video monitor playing footage of the Brooklyn sky. This was done as a reference to both the American childhood fantasy of "digging a hole to China"; and the Chinese saying "to look at the world from a well". Wang Gongxin´s video works include "The Old Bench" (1996; exhibited in Inside/ Out), "Baby Talk" (1996), "Public Hallway"; (1997), and "Shepard" (1998).

The work of Wang Gongxin is not usually narrative but describes a point in time. Wang does not offer any background or comment on this work and therefore leaves us to wander free with our subjective attachments. While Wang´s work is not necessarily read exclusively in a Chinese context, we could venture further to read the work relating to the notion of individualism in a post communist society. Does this individual stand for the masses? Is it a person or is it the People?

Wang´s work floats outside the parameters of a mainstream critical position. It has not been aligned with any specific art movement and therefore has not been intensely interrogated or positioned in relation to a particular movement. However, his work is part of an international art dialogue of video art history. It poses open and relevant visions that are concerned with an ongoing development of a deeply personal expression. Wang´s work can be threaded to video artists such as Bill Viola and Gary Hill as a source of influence and genre.
Author: Karin Bergquist


1960: Wang Gongxin was born in Beijing, China.
1982: BA, Capital Normal University, Beijing
1987: Visiting Scholar, Suny at Cortland and Albany, New York

Lives and works in Beijing, China

Solo Exhibitions (Choice)

“Wang Gongxin”, CourtYard Gallery, Beijing, China

Group Exhibitions (Choice)

“Fiction@Love“, MOCA, Shanghai, China
“Transizione - Dal Passato al Futuro“, Galleria Luxardo, Rome, Italy
“China - Between Past and Future“, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany

“RAPT: Austral-Asia Zero Five”, Sherman Galleries, Sydney, Australia
“Competition”, CourtYard Gallery, Beijing, China
“Double Vision“, Lianzhou Government, Lianzhou, China
“Between Past and Future“, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA
“Between Past and Future“, Smart Museum, Chicago, USA
“Between Past and Future“, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Great Britain
“Electroscape“, Shanghai Duolun Museum, Shanghai, China
“About Beauty“, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany
“Between Past and Future“, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, USA
“Focus in Portraits“, Canvas International Art, Amstelveen, Netherlands
“Focus in Portraits“, De Balie, Amsterdam, Netherlands

“Me, Me, Me! - Part I“, CourtYard Gallery, Beijing, China
“Dialogues...“, Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai, China
“Le moine et le démon, Art contemporain chinois“, Moca - Musée art contemporain, Lyon, France
“The Logbook“, Longmarchfoundation, Beijing, China
“Between Past and Future“, International Center of Photography, New York, USA
“All Under Heaven - China Now!“, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp, Belgium
“Video Village“, Palazzo della Triennale, Milano, Italy

“2. Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2003”, Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, Niigata-ken, Japan
“Chinart”, MACRO - Museo d´Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome, Italy

“Metropolitan Iconographies”, 25th Sao Paulo Biennial, Sao Paulo, Brazil
“Sorry for the Inconvenience”, Bangkok University Art Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand
“Shanghai Biennial 2002”, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
“GuangZhou Triennial 2002”, GuangZhou Art Museum, Guangzhou, China
“TaiPei Biennal 2002”, TaiPei Art Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
“Under Construction”, OperaCity Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
“Synthetic Reality”, East Modern Art Center, Beijing, China
“ChinArt”, Museum Kuppersmuhle, Duisburg, Germany
“Beijing Afloat”, Beijing-Tokyo Art Project, Beijing, China

“MAAP 2001 Festival”, IMA, Brisbane, Australia
“Non-Linear Narrative”, The Gallery of China Academy of Fine Art, Hongzhou, China
“My Sun”, Art Space, Sydney, Australia
“Dream”, Atlantis Gallery, London, Great Britain
“Living in this Time”, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany
“Translated Acts”, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany
“Re:Duchamp, Travelling Exhibition”, Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy
“The Edge”, Earl Lu Gallery, Lasalle-Sia College of the Arts, Singapore, Singapore
“The New Works of Wang, GonXin & Lin, TianMiao”, The Loft New Media Art Space, Beijing, China

“Documentation of Chinese Avant-Garde Art”, Furokaa Asian Art Museum, Furokaa, Japan
“At the New Century, 1979-1999 China Contemporary Art Works”, Chengdu Contemporary Art Museum, Chengdu, China
“The home?”, Contemporary Art Project, Shanghai, China
“MAAP (Multimedia Art in Asia Pacific) 2000 Festival”, Power House, Brisbane, Australia
“Video Circle 2000”, Exposition Hall of HKST, Hong Kong, China
“China & Hong Kong Video Festival”, Museum of Site, Hong Kong, China

“Revolutionary Capitals”, The ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, Great Britain
“The Second Yearlong Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition”, He XiangNing Art Museum, Shenzhen, China
“Fast Forward, New Chinese Video Art”, The Contemporary Art Museum of Macao, Macao, China
“Inside out, New China´s Arts”, SFMOMA, San Francisco, USA
“The Circle Video”, The Art Center of HKU of ST, Hong Kong, China



Exhibition / Installation,
In Wang´s most comic work, "Shepard" (4 min), he dressed up in old clothes and chased a sheep around with a knife, as if about to kill it. It ends as he is about to slit its throat and cuts to a still of a knife, then of him lying on the ground. The video has a mythic quality, especially at the end, when he cuts short the audience´s expectations of art to provide a dramatic event. When he screened the video, he brought the sheep to stand before the video.

Myth Powder

Exhibition / Installation,
"Myth Powder" directly addressed the power of myths to mislead. He taped a documentary of people in parks doing self-created qigong-like exercises and chanting mantras like, "Bladder is going well. Thoughts are normal. Inflammation is going down." Editing into this documentary was infomercial footage of a fake "myth powder" with amazing health benefits. In his installation, he lined up packets of his fake medicine, actually flour in packets. Of the exercisers in the park, he says, "It´s fake, but they still earnestly practice it." Done two years before the Falun Gong crackdown, he says he used the documentary footage of the qigong to demonstrate how visual reality betrays your belief in reality.

Baby Talk

Exhibition / Installation,
His work, "Baby Talk" projected the faces of people talking to a baby onto a translucent screen produced by a cribful of milk. Though without hearing their words, it was clear that these six people were the two parents and four grandparents that focus all of their energies on one child because of the one-child policy. The only sound came from the drain, located at the mouths of the people that recycled the milk back in and out of the crib. Even though you can never see the baby, the subject of the piece, the recycled speech forms a portrait of the child in formation.

Selected exhibitions

Exhibition / Installation
2003: Cyber Asia-media Art in the Near Future, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan 2002: Metropolitan Iconographies, 25th Sao Paolo Biennal, Sao Paolo, Brazil Welcome to The LOFT in Beijing, PAUSE, 4th GwangJu Biennal, Korea Sorry for the inconvenience, Bangkok University Art Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand Wang GonXin from Beijing, Contemporary Art Center of South Australia, Australia Shanghai Biennal 2002, Shanghai Art Museum, China GuangZhou Triennal 2002, GuangZhou Art Museum, China TaiPei Biennal 2002, TaiPei Art Museum, Taiwan Under Construction, OperaCity Gallery, Tokyo, Japan Synthetic Reality, East Modern Art Center, Beijing, China Moist, MAAP-2002 in Beijing, The Art Museum of China Millennium Monument, China ChinArt, Museum Kuppersmuhle, Duisburg, Germany Beijing Afloat, Beijing-Tokyo Art Project, Beijing, China 2001:MAAP 2001 Festival, IMA, Brisbane, Australia Non-Linear Narrative, The gallery of China Academy of Fine Art, HongZhou, China My sun, Art Space, Sydney, Australia Dream, Atlantis Gallery, London, United Kingdom Microwave International Media Art Festival 2001, Hong Kong Living in this time, Hamburger Bahnhof of National Museum, Berlin, Germany Translated Acts, Haus Der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany and Queens Museum of Art, New York, USA Re:Duchamp, Travelling Exhibition, 2001 Venice Biennal, Venice, Italy Made in Asia?, The Duke University Museum of Art, USA The Edge, Earl Lu Gallery, Lasalle-Sia College of the Arts, Singapore The New Works of Wang, GonXin & Lin, TianMiao, The Loft New Media Art Space, Beijing, China 2000:Documentation of Chinese Avant-Garde Art in 90´s, Furokaa Asian Art Museum, Japan At the New Century, 1979-1999 China Contemporary Art Works, Chcngdu Contemporary Art Museum, China The home?, Contemporary Art Project, Shanghai, China 18th WWVF (World Wide Video Festival ) 2000, Amsterdam, Holland MAAP (Multimedia Art in Asia Pacific) 2000 Festival, Power House, Brisbane, Australia Video Circle 2000, Exposition Hall of HKST, Hong Kong China & Hong Kong Video Festival, Museum of Site, Hong Kong 1999:Revolutionary Capitals, The ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, United Kingdom The Second Yearlong Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition, He XiangNing Art Museum, ShenZhen, China Fast Forward, New Chinese Video Art, The Contemporary Art Museum of Macao, Macao, China Inside out, New China´s Arts, SFMOMA, San Francisco, USA The Circle Video, The Art Center of HKU of ST, Hong Kong


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

China - Between Past and Future

A project on contemporary art in China

(24 March 06 - 14 May 06)

About Beauty

Exhibition, Dance, Workshops, Conference

(18 March 05 - 15 May 05)

Images of Asia

(08 August 03 - 26 September 03)