Rong Rong’s East Village

Rong Rong's East Village


Wu Hung


Located at Beijing's east fringe, between the Third and Fourth Ring Roads, was a small, tumbledown village called Dashanzhuang:Before it was finally demolished in 2001 and 2002 and assimilated into the ever- expanding Chinese capital, it consisted of some sixty to seventy farmhouses connected by narrow dirt roads. In its own history Dashanzhuang was utterly     unimportant: not many native Beijingers knew this name even when the village still existed, and its eventual disappearance created no noticeable stir among local residents. But under a different name - the East Village (Dongcun) - the place is famous in an unofficial history: the history of con-temporary Chinese experimental art. Between 1992 and 1994, a group of struggling artists and musicians moved in there. Attracted by the low rents and close proximity to downtown Beijing, they made Dashanzhuang their foster home. Some of them further formed an avant-garde inner circle and began to create a series of highly challenging works - mainly performances and photographs -which sent an instant shockwave throughout the community of experimental Chinese artists in Beijing and beyond. Adopting the name of an area of New York where many artists lived, they renamed Dashanzhuang the East village, and called themselves "East village artists.” As a live in artist' community, this Chinese "East Village cased to exist after June 1994, when the police arrested two of its members and forced the rest to leave their rented houses.