“Lan Jinghua · Outside of Art” 2023 NYRCA Annual Solo Exhibition

Lan Jinghua’s story of Songzhuang

I worked as a primary and secondary school art teacher in Shenzhen for 17 years before quitting my job in 2006 to work as a freelance artist in Beijing. From 2007 to 2011, I rented a small farm yard on the edge of the Roman Lake in Houshayu, Shunyi, Beijing. In 2011, I was summoned to Songzhuang by a friend, since then I have been creating and living in Songzhuang Studio. Painting, performing art, curating exhibitions, drinking tea and chatting in friends’ studios, and attending dinners of Songzhuang artists have become the main ways of life in these years.

Life in Songzhuang is the most wonderful time of my life, this is a place away from the hustle and bustle and secular values and secular lifestyle, thousands of people who have given up their hometown lifestyle live together in a crowded environment in this small village, they don’t talk about money, they don’t talk about positions, they don’t talk about stocks, they don’t talk about motivation… Only talking about art, poetry, film, women and wine, Songzhuang is a decadent but not degenerate utopia of literary and artistic figures, perhaps the only remaining utopia and ideal country in China…

Songzhuang is the place with the highest concentration of artists in the world, and it is also the place with the most comprehensive variety of art, directors, traditional painters, contemporary artists, poets, writers, various musicians, blacksmiths and psychopaths… Maybe there will never be such an interesting place again …

I often advise my friends not to drink or drink less in Songzhuang, because dozens of artists died due to drinking alcohol in Songzhuang every year, and the average age of death is about 46 years old…

Songzhuang is a place to stay even if his girlfriend runs away with others, and if he really leaves Songzhuang, there is only one reason: he can’t pay the next year’s rent. China doesn’t need so many artists, but I still have to express my respect to the artists of Songzhuang, who may be guarding China’s last utopia…

The most interesting thing I have ever done in Songzhuang is to hold a solo exhibition of Performance art of Danfeng Eyes in Songzhuang in July 2017. Danfeng Eyes belongs to traditional Chinese aestheticsare, and all local operas in China are based on Danfeng Eyes as their beauty. Dan characters always draw the corners of the eyes upwards, Presenting  Danfeng Eyes’s shape. One week before the opening of the “Danfeng Eyes” solo exhibition, I didn’t have any work on hand. On July 1, 2017, I started sending invitations to selfie Danfeng Eyes on my mobile WeChat, inviting friends to use their phones to take photos of their own Danfengyan and sending them back to me. The first photo I received is from the artist Shen Jingdong. On July 2nd, I continued to send WeChat invitations, but on July 3rd, I dared not send any more WeChat invitations because my phone was already crowded with photos of Danfeng Eyes from around the world. I have received over 800 photos of Danfeng Eyes, which come from five continents and dozens of countries around the world. The vast majority of participating friends have never met me before.

That is to say, from July 1st to 3rd, 2017, “Danfeng Eyes” became a contemporary art event that affected the world. People around the world unconsciously engage in collective behavior at home, in the wilderness, and on the streets, involving professions such as artists, critics, poets, directors, entrepreneurs, renowned scholars, white-collar workers, scavengers, vagrants, and so on. The age range ranges from infants to 80 years old. There are many nationalities, skin colors, and races.

Thank you teacher Li Xianting for personally doing a wonderful Danfeng Eyes act and inscribed the work of Dan Phoenix Eye. Thanks to Wang Yong, academic host of Danfeng Eyes, and thanks to my curator, Minglia (Russia).

In August 2018, I organized a group of Songzhuang artists to stick one foot into the hole of the Great Wall, so that the body and the Great Wall were integrated, creating a collective performance art work called “Inextricable”.

Since a few years ago, I have photographed and recorded every dinner I participated in in Songzhuang, named “Every Dinner in Songzhuang is a History of Songzhuang Contemporary Art”.

My life in Songzhuang continues, and I believe there will be wonderful stories later…


Lan Jinghua

Lan Jinghua is a freelance artist and curator living in Beijing.

NYRCA Annual Projects “Outside of Art · Storytelling”
Grace Young 
Humans always try to surpass the prison of time, stretching or compressing it to make life burst into brilliant sparks in the gaps of time. As we pass through the overt era of the pandemic, we marvel at the changes it has brought to our lives, and anxiously return to the covert era of the pandemic. We realize that the pandemic has never disappeared from human society, and people are changing the way they perceive and treat the world because of its overt or covert states. In the overt era of the pandemic, humans are more fragile and sensitive, especially artists.
If life itself is a gift of mysterious power, and time is only a phenomenon, and the past, present, or future is not a linear extension structure, then time is not an equal existence for different individuals. In the creation and interaction of art, our time fully demonstrates its elastic power.
When life becomes a work of art, and living becomes the essence of art, every aspect of life becomes irreplaceable and unique in your work. For example, the money-making activities necessary for survival, the various emotional experiences encountered in life, and the various events we encounter by chance or intentionally. Therefore, every story experienced by oneself is precious because of “truth + sincerity,” which is the reason why we launched this project.
We will present each artist’s unique story in stages, and each stage will be a separate exhibition.
Even though “the viewer is obsolete”.