Taiping Tianguo: A History of Possible Encounters, which is based on the highly acclaimed exhibition 太平天國/Taiping Tianguo, A History of Possible Encounters: Ai Weiwei, Frog King Kwok, Tehching Hsieh, and Martin Wong in New York presented at Para Site in summer 2012, and subsequently at SALT Istanbul, NUS Museum Singapore and e-flux New York. The publication is edited by Doryun Chong and Cosmin Costinas and co-published with Sternberg Press.
Both the exhibition and book began as a series of questions: How did Ai Weiwei, Frog King Kwok, Tehching Hsieh, and Martin Wong—four artists of Chinese heritage from various corners of the world—end up in New York in the heady days of the 1980s? Did they know one another? By considering them together, what can we learn about the storied time and place in art history and about the divergent practices of these well-known figures? With nuanced glimpses of the artists' overlapping experiences, networks and friendships in the whirlpool of downtown New York and re-contextualised discussions of their artistic legacies, the book joins the exhibition in contributing to a critical reading of this period—the first decade of contemporary Chinese art and the prelude to the era of globalised contemporary art.
The publication includes original contributions by a wide range of authors: a conversation between Doryun Chong and Cosmin Costinas about the project; an essay by Anthony Yung on the presence of Chinese artists in New York in the 80s; a conversation between groundbreaking choreographer Xavier Le Roy and Costinas on the influence of Tehching Hsieh's practice on dance and performance today; an essay on Hsieh's theatricality by Fukuen Tang; an essay by Christina Li and Yung Ma on the life and work of Frog King Kwok; short essays on Martin Wong by Mark Dean Johnson, Barry Blinderman, and Lydia Yee; as well as an essay by Anton Vidokle about his own experience in Lower Manhattan in the 80s. The book also contains comprehensive images of the artists' works, and an original chronology of the artists' biographies within the general historical and artistic background.