Skew Xiao Lu
12 Sep - 05 Oct, 2019 | 10 Chancery Lane Gallery

10 Chancery Lane Gallery is proud to present SKEW, a solo exhibition and new

performance by Xiao Lu, one of China’s most provocative artists. This will be Xiao Lu’s

first solo show in Hong Kong and will present an important survey of some of her most

iconic performances. Xiao Lu’s recent works explore ways to break through the

uncertainty of individual challenges as well as the challenges of art in her life. Xiao

Lu's newest performance SKEW, which will take place on September 5, has been

created specifically for the Hong Kong environment. She will allow the unknown to

guide the final outcome of the performance and embrace the unexpected events and

risks that her performances embody, executed in her spontaneous and bold style.


Xiao Lu’s seminal experimental installation work “Dialogue,” exhibited at the National

Art Museum of China’s 1989 China/Avant-Garde Exhibition, included an impromptu

performance where she fired a handgun at her own installation; an act that led to the

temporary closure of the exhibition. Occurring just a few months prior to the Tiananmen

incident, “Dialogue” is often referred to as “the first shot of Tiananmen.” The

China/Avant-Garde Exhibition, which provided a comprehensive view of the

experimental works that emerged in Mainland China after 1985, is widely regarded as a

pivotal moment in the history of contemporary Chinese art.


Xiao Lu is China’s first female performance artist and her work represents issues

concerning her generation as a woman in China. In 1989, “Dialogue” addressed her

personal struggle with sexual abuse and relationships. “15 Gunshots…From 1989 to

2003” was her cathartic release after 15 years of silence after creating “Dialogue” and

coincided with her autobiographical novel of the same title. Xiao Lu’s 2006 work,

“Sperm” at which she invited donors to deposit their own sperm, was an effort to bring

awareness to the fact that unmarried woman in China are not allowed to undergo invitro

fertilization, as well as to counter the psychological perception of men’s

dominance with respect to reproductive rights. Although she failed to collect any

sperm, addressing this issue through her art performance was a bold stance for a

woman in China. Xiao Lu’s 2009 performance “Wedlock” served as her proxy wedding

ceremony, where she emerged from a locked coffin and married herself; a seemingly

absurd scene that questioned topics in relation to women such as relationships,

marriage and issues of freedom. The feminist aspects raised in the works “Sperm” and

“Wedlock” demonstrate how profoundly important this subject is to her as an artist.


Xiao Lu admits that she has a rebellious side to her character and that her

performances are reliant on chance and spontaneity. In 2013, her performance “Purge”

took place at a collateral event of the 55th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale Di

Venezia, after her original performance was refused permission by the venue, the

Museo Diocesano of Venice on the grounds that nudity is not allowed in church. In

protest, she took off her clothes during the opening ceremony and jumped into the

canal. She explains, “... when a crucial moment like that happens, I can be a rebel: the

more you oppress me, the more I will fight back. This is something to do with my



Xiao Lu’s performances often include the unexpected. In 2016, the performance “Polar”

took a dangerous turn. Xiao Lu had herself lowered into a cell of ice blocks, with only a

knife in hand as her only way out. As she slashed at the ice, her hand slipped and the

knife left a deep gash across her palm. Xiao Lu continued to chip away at the relentless

ice, even as her wound bled profusely. Although unintended, the chance happening of

her cutting herself only intensified and added to the extreme hardship and urgency of

escaping the ice cell as she struggled for her freedom. She continued the performance

for another 30 minutes until she was sent to the emergency room.