China's Resistance Art Beyond Ai Weiwei

Despite high-handed repression, resistance in the form of action art is getting popular in China. While Ai Weiwei is the most internationally known Chinese art-activist, there are many similar initiatives unknown to the western world.

Li Ning (李凝) the Body Art Guerrilla Group, Made-in-J Town (凌雲焰肢體游擊隊), are among one of the most interesting groups. Recently, they released three action art performances from 2008 through Youtube. The year of the Beijing Olympics – 2008 – dissent voices in the country faced the harshest repression. The 11-year imprisonment of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, because of his Charter 08 initiative, is the most well-known example. These videos from 2008 give a glimpse into the resistance culture among young people in China.

The first one, Shandong: Olympic + Demolition (山東:奧運+拆遷), criticizes the 2008 Olympics from a humanistic point of view: has a brief explanation of the video:

2008 is the year of Beijing Olympic. In order to show the strength of the country, demolition had taken place in all major cities. Even though Jinan was not the hosting city, the scale of demolition and re-development had been huge. Li Ning and Body Art Guerrilla Group, Made-in-J Town, produced a short video showing the Olympic Torch relay in Jinan and the demolition. In the video, Li Ning performs the flesh and blood in the demolition scene, which creates a sharp contrast with the propaganda of the torch relay.

The second one, Fee for selecting school (擇校費), shows a body protest:

Below is's description:

Li Ning and Body Art Guerrilla Group, Made-in-J Town, is frustrated with the extra fee for selecting the schools imposed onto the parents by elementary schools. They believe it is a form of corruption and want to protest against it with action art. In 2008, Li Ning wrapped himself with red tape and tied an amplifier on his body, playing slogan in front of a school. Police officers appeared accusing him of moral corruption…

The third one, Currency at the intersection leading to the underworld (冥幣路口), is an action art performance that shows the negative power of money:

Explanation of the video via

Li Ning and Body Art Guerrilla Group, Made-in-J Town planned an action art in a Jinan highway in 2008. They wanted to create a fuss by spreading paper money in the highway. They had successfully escaped from the police and recorded their performance on tape.

(The thumbnail image is captured from the video: Shandong: Olympic + Demolition)

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