Xiao Lu



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Xiao Lu's Dialogue was installed in Beijing's National Art Museum of China as part of the China/Avant-Garde exhibit, which opened on February 5, 1989. Two public telephone booths stand several feet apart. The black-and-white image of a woman’s back appears in one, with that of a male counterpart in the other. Receivers pressed to their ears, they seem engaged in dialogue. On a white plinth between the booths rests a red telephone, whose receiver dangles from its cord over the side. A mirror the size and shape of the booths is positioned behind the telephone, with the lines of a red cross dividing it like a windowpane. As audience members, who had turned out on the eve of Chinese New Year, wandered through the galleries, two shots rang out. Artist Xiao Lu had drawn a handgun and fired into her piece, shattering the mirror at the center of the installation. Police arrested her and Tang Song, another artist at the scene whom they assumed was involved, and closed the exhibit. It reopened several days later, only to be suspended one more time due to pieces in violation of the organizer's contract with the museum not to exhibit performance art, as well as a false bomb threat. All historical accounts of that seminal 1989 moment mention Xiao Lu’s installation piece Dialogue, which she fired into, causing the exhibit’s first closure. Some even retrospectively called it "the first shots of Tiananmen." Fifteen years later, Xiao Lu created Fifteen Shots: 1989-2003 as a reflection on that moment and the lingering effects of sexual violence and female erasure from art history.
Book Reference:
Introduction; Chapter 1, Page 17

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Cultural Context:
Is Format Of:
Gao Minglu, ed., Inside Out: New Chinese Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), Plate 23.
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