This book presents an expansive selection of striking photographs, together with first-person accounts from his private diary, which RongRong made between 1993 and 1998 within the artistic community known as Beijing East Village-now poignantly described as “a meteor in the history of contemporary Chinese art.” RongRong’s acutely composed and richly expressive images captured scenes of daily life among fellow young, aspiring artists, and created now definitive documents of iconic performance works by Zhang Huan and Ma Liuming, among others. Often highly challenging works, their performances and photographs would send an instant shockwave throughout the Chinese avant-garde, and later the global art scene. Revisiting these texts and images anew on the occasion of this publication, RongRong has composed an absorbing personal narrative of an artist coming into his own. RongRong’s Diary. Beijing East Village also serves as an invaluable, first-hand record of a burgeoning artistic community, its precarious political context, and the real lives behind a pivotal moment in Chinese contemporary art.
But here in the East Village, we do almost everything. Curse plays rock music and writes poetry. Kongbu curates and writes criticism. Zhang Huan, Ma Liuming and Zhu Ming do performances… But I am the only photographer. Forming a complete collective, we must be able to make meaningful works… Everyone left their hometown and seeks dreams here from afar. We are all children who left home, which makes us constantly hungry… – RongRong