Asia

Liu Chuang
Love Story

Categorized as low-level literature, a Love Stories book is a romantic popular fiction of proletariat China, read mainly by teenagers, students, and young workers. These novels were mostly written by Taiwanese and Hong Kong writers in the 1980s to the 1990s to meet the cultural needs of the new social classes before being imported into China after the Chinese economic reform in the late 1980s. As contemporary China industry developed, a large number of workers became readers of this new pulp fiction. Artist Liu Chuan purchased about 20,000 Love Stories books from a run-down book rental shop in the booming industrial Dongguan, a factory city located in the Pearl River Delta where he used to live and where most of the working population were migrating to from around the country. Here Love Story only presents about 3,000 used pulp fiction novels rented or borrowed by migrant workers, and the anonymous handwritten notes accumulated within them. Some notes look like letter drafts or rather internal monologues while other appear as diaries or poems. Love Story can be seen as a portrait of a generation of migrant workers in China, from 1990 to 2010, an important transitional period in China both economically and politically.

Known for engaging socio-economic matters as they relate to urban realities, Liu Chuang proposes different understandings of social systems underlying the everyday. Through grim humor and often poetic approach, Liu Chuang often works with ready-mades and interventions across various mediums from video, installation, architecture to performance. Liu Chuang works have integrated social intervention with institutional critique to examine China’s immediate realities, particularly the Shanzhai phenomenon of piracy and plagiarism in mass manufacturing and culture.