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Rong Rong

Born Li Zhirong 1968, Zhangzhou, Fujian Province. Lives and works in Beijing. Rong Rong studied photography at the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts, Beijing, graduating in 1992.

East Village, Beijing no. 20 (Zhang Huan, 12 Square Metres), 1994 by Rong Rong
East Village, Beijing no. 20 (Zhang Huan, 12 Square Metres), 1994 by Rong Rong

In 1993 Rong Rong moved to Beijing’s East Village where he documented the lives of artist friends and performance art happenings. Since 2000 he has worked with his partner Inri. In 2006 they established the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing, a leading gallery and research centre for photography.

Context and comment

“Performances by Zhang Huan, Ma Liuming and Zhu Ming were recorded by photographer-friends, notably Rong Rong (b. 1968), Xing Danwen and Ai Weiwei. Many of the artists lived in a newly formed community of experimental practitioners in Dashanzhuang, a run-down industrial area on the outskirts of Beijing. The area was called East Village in homage to the famous artist district in New York. Rong Rong’s photographs are now regarded as a valuable archive of performance art. Photographs include Zhang Huan’s 12 square metres 1994 in which the artist sat naked, smeared in honey and fish oil in a local public toilet for an hour before cleansing himself in a polluted pond; Ma Liuming performing naked as his female alter ego Fen-Ma Liuming in Fen-Ma Liuming’s lunch 1994, after which the artist was arrested and imprisoned for two months, and Fish child 1995; Zhang Huang and Ma Liuming’s joint work The third contact 1995; and Zhu Ming’s Performance no. 6 1997 in which the naked artist is contained within a bubble-like plastic balloon breathing through an internal plastic tube.”
(Roberts C. , Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture, 2012)

Further reading

East village

The performance

Museum of Contemporary Art on the Web

Heinrich, C. (2005). Mah-jong; Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection. (Fibicher and Frehner, ed.) Germany: Hatje Cantz. pp. 300 – 301

Roberts, C. (2012). Go figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture. (D. C. Roberts, Ed.) Canberra and Sydney, Australia: National Portrait Gallery and The Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation.