In terms of public presentations of the artistic practices of Chinese artists living and working in the UK, the 1996 exhibition Journeys West has been the biggest of its kind so far, also the only touring exhibition of this specific nature. It was first presented in the Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, then in the gallery of University of Essex, and at First Site gallery, Colchester. Critics Hou Hanru and Kong Chang’an both participated, and together discussed the problem of cultural identity expressed in art in the postcolonial world. I submitted two installations, Encyclopedia-Art International (1994) a collection of 56 paintings and Ismatic (1995) composed with 100 prints of words with “isms”.
I started collaborating with Xi Jianjun in 1999. During the time of the Turner Prize, we jumped on Tracy Emin’s work My Bed. Our action was recorded and widely reported. One day before the performance, we contacted reporters of The Guardian and distributed our manifesto and press release. Immediately reporters called and asked for details. About midnight, we received another phone call, telling us that The Guardian newspaper had already posted the news and, as responsible as he was, the reporter already notified Tate Gallery of our upcoming action. It was a Sunday morning, there were many viewers in front of “My Bed” already. It was also surrounded by security guards with walkie-talkies. I pushed my way through, yelled “J!,” and jumped on the bed. I jumped and jumped, made a few Kung Fu moves, but Xi Jianjun had already been held down by one of the security guards. After a few minutes, the security guards started controlling the crowd and a number of policemen rushed in, while I was already on the floor. We were taken to Belgravia police station. After a couple of hours, we were notified that Emin and her gallery had decided not to sue us. We walked out and were surrounded by reporters, and the whole country heard the news the next day.