The one and only video installation show in China happened in 1996 at Hangzhou's China National Academy of Fine Arts. Among the artists exhibited were three students at the Academy. The only time London could meet the students was at 9:30 Monday morning, during a class break. They are the coming generation of contemporary artists, and London wondered what they had on their mind.


Gao Shiqiang, Lu Lei, and Gao Shiming are still students searching for a role as artists. They are fascinated by the Lost Generation, the artists who flourished during the 1980's when the Government eased their heavy handed control of the arts. After the crackdown at the end of the decade, the artists who were destroyed became the Lost Generation. In their portfolio, the three collaborators quote a poem of Hai Zi, a poet who committed suicide.

stud stud

We are the loyal sons of distance

Every morning we depart, the mind ablaze

The heart weighed down with care and bitterness

We go, according to the rhythmic love

While the songs escaped backward

Footfalls echo in the memory.

stud No privacy here, the installation "Visible and Invisible Lives" makes clear. Arrayed within a framed outline are a set of monitors, a window on one, a door on another, a foot entering on a third, all of which can be understood as details of a room. The trio were thrilled that viewers took their room as something real, and acknowledged its implications.

During the short time together, the students did more interviewing than London.

They wanted confirmation that Chinese video artists are more committed politically than their western counterparts. Articles about Western media artists have appeared in Chinese art magazines, and the students wanted to know everything about the works they had not seen. Somehow they had gotten their hands on a pirated copy of Bill Viola's "Passing," which they liked very much, but his installations were beyond their book learning. A plane ticket to a major museum would be a boon to these information sponges.

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