“When a child reaches his or her first month’s birthday in China, there is a custom of the newborn’s parents handing out boiled eggs dyed red to friends and family; what this ancient ritual really signifies is the beginning of a life of troublemaking, literally, a life full of bad eggs. Causing mischief is essential to human life. The value of one’s life is determined by how much trouble one stirs up. This exhibition starts off with minor shenanigans and concludes with major monkey business, with the theme of insubordination running throughout. Human vitality and creativity cannot exist without a certain amount of naughtiness. There is, however, one exception to this rule: if the government starts acting up again, the situation is bound to get terribly messy.” (from Liu Dahong’s New Year’s Day: Make Trouble
“Liu Dahong’s Childhood Anecdotes are basically memorabilia from an age of troublemaking. As the stories get told and revisited, they slowly distill into personal myths. The generation that grew up during the years of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution has common stories to tell, and it seems to me the entire nation was mobilized at the time into the project of mythmaking; everyone put aside the guilt of amnesia as well as the burden of preserving the past. As a member of the burden-less generation, Liu Dahong’s legacy is to keep for us memories of troublemaking, and to bear witness against future amnesia. The magic of myth is that it cures amnesia. The myth of troublemaking reveals to us not just its own era, but also the world that came before revolution. In stretching back our memory it stretches knowledge, and life itself.” (from Chang Tsong-Zung’s Era of Troublemakers
“The way that Liu Dahong took to become “a new master of New China” was for him to become an artist, and by so doing to become a troublemaker, an “egg crusher,” an agent provocateur. But for Liu Dahong, stirring up trouble was not a simple matter. The targets and beneficiaries of Liu’s provocation were the legacy of Chinese childhood in the Cultural Revolution on the one hand, and the present day and age on the other. Liu Dahong also had to delve deeply into his own memories of his own childhood……Reclaiming childhood thus becomes a form of dependence for maintaining one’s own existence, or as a basis for struggling with others; one should become a troublemaker again by learning from one’s own childhood, and then go out and stir up more trouble. Here, the chilling words with which Liu Dahong begin his book, ‘Whenever my childhood is annihilated…’ come to mind. The risk lies in being annihilated by ourselves, or by the present. All survival depends on the present, and childhood is nothing more than survival. For Liu Dahong, ‘childhood is the standard of everything beautiful, the yardstick. Childhood is eternal, may the ideals of childhood reign forever!’ Only an artist can think that way. In other words, Liu’s childhood is a form of art, in the historical and concrete sense not merely something vague; or abstract, an idealistic concept, the ‘standard of everything beautiful.’” (from Sun Shanchun’s Now, Let’s Talk Kidspeak
Press release courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.