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Lu Xiao

Publication Year: 2010

What forces continue to oppress and restrain women artists in contemporary China? Some powerful answers are provided in this fictional memoir by Xiao Lu, whose art played a pivotal role in the “China Avant-Garde” exhibition that opened four months before Tiananmen Square erupted in violence. Her dramatic personal story is emblematic of the challenges facing many talented artists in contemporary China.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. vii-xv

Although Xiao Lu’s Dialogue is written in the form of a novel, it is based on a true story. However, it is not only the story of a single individual. At the same time it presents a particularly important event in the history of Chinese contemporary art. All the names in the book are fictitious, but they are based on the authentic character ...

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pp. 1-2

... The days pass. I don’t know what day it is. I look outside. The ginkgo leaves are almost gone. It must be well into winter. I make myself a bowl of chicken soup. I sit at the table, thinking, chewing. I stare through the couple in my work carrying on their dialogue. ...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 3-12

On 12 April 2004, on the “What’s New” page of Meishu Tongmeng,1 the biggest contemporary art website in Beijing, its Editor-in-chief, Wu Yi, published my new work Fifteen Gunshots…from 1989 to 2003 and added the following editorial note: ...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 13-23

... A young male hairdresser came, stood in front of the mirror, placed a large bottle of plainly packaged shampoo on the glass ledge. He energetically pressed the plunger on the bottle and cupped a handful of shampoo in his hand. With his left hand he took a plastic water dispenser, poured shampoo and water on my head and massaged them into a white lather in a moment. ...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 24-37

The dishcloth gourd vine outside the window had put forth some more tender green shoots during the night. In the noon-day light, they were languidly raising their tendrils towards the sun, and the rays of light dazzled my eyes: “Auntie, brew me a cup of strong coffee.” I stretched my body lazily, rose and went to the toilet. I washed and dressed and went upstairs, then suddenly ...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 38-46

There is a conundrum which has long bothered me. It is about how I feel towards my own body; many of my actions are inexplicable. Sometimes I seem to be living in thin air, or between protective screens that cut me off from the world. Often when I can’t distinguish clearly between right and wrong, straight and crooked, I either ignore the elusive things which weigh on the ...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 46-56

Four years of life at the Subsidiary High School came to an end. In leaving Beijing, I only wanted to leave that demonic temptation which was entangling my body. Wei Bo was all advice and instructions: “Whatever happens, don’t tell your parents when you return! If you say anything about it, other people will despise you.” A terrible look shone out of his eyes. ...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 57-71

In turmoil, I mounted my bicycle and roamed the campus. People! They were like balloons released into the air, drifting hither and thither with the wind. The ultraviolet rays of the sun dazzled my eyes. I thought of a saying: “If you don’t want it known, best leave it undone.” ...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 72-82

... After I graduated from the Academy I was assigned to work at the Shanghai Oil Painting and Sculpture Institute. Assigned there at the same time were Yan Jing, a female graduate of the Sculpture Department of the Zhejiang Fine Arts Academy, and my classmate Yin Xiong. ...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 83-98

The fifth of February 1989 was the last day of the lunar calendar, the eve of the Spring Festival, the traditional Chinese New Year’s Eve. On this evening, young and old in every family gather to eat a meal together. Everybody sits by the television set to watch the Spring Festival Gala. They gossip about the year that is almost over and about the trivial little events that ...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 99-108

Just after four o’clock in the afternoon, I arrived at the front gate of the National Art Museum of China, where I saw a notice posted: “The China Avant-garde Art Exhibition is temporarily closed due to an incident.” Later I learned that Song Liwei had written this. I said to the security guard at the door: “I am Xiao Xiao. I am the one who fired the gun, I want to go in and give myself up.” ...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 109-122

We returned to Hangzhou. Standing outside my parents’ house, I stopped and stared at the mat in front of the door and scraped my shoes back and forth on it. It was like when I had done something wrong as a child and was reluctant to go home. I accidentally knocked my head against the door. ...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 123-132

... Leaving the airplane, I saw through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the airport a deep blue sky, without a shred of white cloud. I had seen this kind of blue in Lhasa in Tibet. A friend came to meet me. When the car entered the built-up area, there were rows of houses on either side of the streets, painted in various colours. The vegetation and the flowers were luxuriant. It looked just ...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 133-144

... “Don’t forget you’re an artist too. Go back and get your works,” she said very forcefully. Looking at her, I went back to my room and brought out some photographs of my own work. In the first-floor apartment, John Clark browsed through Lan Jun’s works one by one, and finally said to me: “I’d like to see ...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 145-155

Those were the happiest days of our lives, receiving the Australian government’s unemployment benefits, sleeping as late as we liked every day, making love whenever we liked, going to the beach to see the sun rise, eating fresh-baked bread straight from the oven on the sandy beach at dawn. We rolled in the sand and ran out into the sea to rinse it off. The sun would ...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 156-164

... Returning to China and to Hangzhou, we discovered that China had undergone a great internal change. Under Deng Xiaoping’s liberalizing reform policies, the greatest change was that many people had become rich. In 1989 when I left China, the concept of money was symbolized by the “ten-thousand ...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 165-172

... My childhood friend Meng-meng persuaded me to come to America for a holiday. My mood wasn’t good, and I didn’t really want to go, but she sent me the plane ticket. “Come over immediately. Do it for me. I now live in a big house with a garden, and if you don’t come over, I’ll sell it immediately.” I didn’t think that this playful statement was intended seriously, but one year ...

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Chapter 16

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pp. 173-181

... “All right!” She asked no further questions. Shortly after, her car arrived downstairs. “Get in then.” We exchanged glances. The car sped south along Nanshan Road, she put on a CD, and music began to play, slowly bringing with it sadness. A pall of gloom silted up my heart. I opened the car window, to let the breeze scatter the grogginess in my body. ...

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Chapter 17

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pp. 182-192

... “Oh, I remember now, how are things, is anything up?” “I am ringing on behalf of Song He, who collected your work Dialogue in 1989. For various reasons the work wasn’t protected carefully, and is now completely destroyed. I wonder if you and Lan Jun would be able to make a copy of it? I have a letter of agreement to send over, please sign it, the two of ...

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Chapter 18

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pp. 193-202

... The psychological and external transformations caused a change of mood. After the extreme psychological shocks and thrills experienced by someone undergoing great upheaval follows a kind of over-stimulated prostration. I suddenly felt extremely tired and wished to return to Hangzhou to rest. Before leaving Beijing, I went to Song Liwei’s place in Song Zhuang to talk to him ...

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pp. 203-207

Encouraged by Elsa I took up my pen to write down some events of the past, events whose sweetness and bitterness only I could know. This good friend whom I had met in Australia, had, after her divorce, finished her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Australia and then returned to Hong Kong, where she has completed her doctoral degree. She is presently pursuing ...

E-ISBN-13: 9789888053513
Print-ISBN-13: 9789888028122

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 31 b/w illus
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Installations (Art) -- Fiction.
  • Xiao, lu, 1962- -- Fiction.
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