Xiao Lu ( Chinese / Australian ) was born in 1962 in Hangzhou, China. In 1988 she graduated from the Oil Painting Department of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Art). She currently lives and works in Sydney, Australia. 

In 1988 Xiao Lu created her installation work Dialogue, which was exhibited in 1989 in the China/Avant-garde Exhibition in the National Art Museum of China in Beijing. On the opening day of the exhibition, she fired two gun at her work Dialogue. This performance is referred to on Wikipedia (s. v. Xiao Lu): “When the Tiananmen Square massacre occurred four months later, her actions were heavily politicized, referred to as “the first gunshots of Tiananmen”.” The Tiananmen Incident of June 4, 1989, started as a demand by students for dialogue with the government and ended with the government sending troops in to suppress the demonstration with gunfire. By a coincidence of history, this work became a harbinger of the Tiananmen Incident. 

It wasn’t until 2004 that Xiao Lu openly talked about the original intention of Dialogue, and that people learned that the reason for her creating this work was the #MeToo experience of her youth. Back in 1989, she was unable to face the Xiao Lu behind the gunshots, and her 15 years of silence after the gunshots led to a misunderstanding about the authorship of the work. A man who was present at the shooting took the opportunity to enter her life. He provided an explanation of the performance work to the outside world and became one of its apparent creators. 

In 2003 Xiao Lu again raised a gun in the work Fifteen Gunshots……from 1989 to 2003, which was her declaration that she had decided to claim sole authorship of Dialogue. In 2022 this work was exhibited in the opening exhibition of the Art Gallery of New South Wales new 20th-century galleries in Sydney, Australia. When Xiao Lu for the first time said openly: “This is my work! Not a collaboration!” it aroused great social controversy. In response, she wrote her autobiographical novel Dialogue (Hong Kong University Press 2010 in Chinese, and in an English translation by Archibald McKenzie) from 2004 to 2006, setting out the story behind the work Dialogue. Ever since 2004, Xiao Lu has abandoned her past silence and has courageously faced up to herself and to society. The difficulties of claiming sole authorship caused a real awakening of Xiao Lu’s awareness of feminist rights, and her works moved from individual to social relevance. 

Through the publication of a large amount of documentary material, this work has had the opportunity of being shown in many important art museums under Xiao Lu’s name: “Democracies” at Tate Liverpool 2020-2023; “Collection 1970s-Present” at MoMA, New York, 2019-2020; “Performer and Participant”, Tate Modern, London, 2018-2019; “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World”, Guggenheim, New York, 2017-2018. In China, Dialogue has featured in the important exhibitions: “Engaging with the World: Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art Since the Dawn of the 20th Century" Taikang Art Museum, Beijing 2023-2024. “Image History Existence” National Art Museum of China, Beijing, 2011; “The New Wave of ’85: China’s first contemporary art movement” Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2007-2008; "Wen Pulin Archive of Chinese Avant-Garde Art', Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing (2016); "New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art" UCCA, Beijing (2007). In January 2019, on the thirtieth anniversary of Xiao Lu’s Dialogue, University of Melbourne art historian Claire Roberts with co-curators Mikala Tai and Xu Hong presented “Xiao Lu: Impossible Dialogue”, a solo exhibition that provided a true artistic overview, at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney. Other exhibitions include: “Framing the Revolution” Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, Oregon (2023). 

Xiao Lu’s work One was shown in the “China – the past is present” at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2022-2023. The work featured on the front page of the NGV Magazine (Issue 37, November 2022), and in the magazine, Xiao Lu was introduced as follows: “Xiao Lu is regarded as an influential figure associated with the radical and experimental ’85 New Wave movement – and is considered one of China’s first feminist performance artists.” 

As an early influential female artist in China, Xiao Lu has actively joined the Feminist Art Group "Bald Girls" activity. She was selected with her work Dialogue for inclusion in Great Women Artists ( PHAIDON, 2019 ), a book that includes 400 female artists from 50 countries, spanning 500 years of history. In September 2022, Xiao Lu’s work Open Fire was included in the exhibition “Empowerment – Kunst und Feminismen” at the Wolfsburg Kunstmuseum, Germany. This exhibition featured works by a selection of one hundred female artists from 50 countries. From 2022 to 2023, three of her works, Dialogue, Polar and Coil were included in “Stepping Out! – Female identities in Chinese Contemporary Art”, a travelling exhibition featuring 26 female Chinese artists shown in Lillehammer Kunstmuseum, Norway; Kunstforeningen GL STRAND, Copenhagen; and Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria. 

Xiao Lu's works encompass various mediums such as performance, installations, photography, videos, and paintings. Her sensitivity lies in her authentic experiences and her conscious standpoint. Xiao Lu’s works are in important museum and private collections: Taikang Art Museum, Beijing; Qinghua University Art Museum, Beijing; Beijing Zhuzhong Art Museum; MoMA, New York; Tate Modern, London; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney; Jack and Susy Wadsworth Collection, USA, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, Oregon. 





  • Publications

    Author: Xiao Lu

    Translated: Archibald McKenzie

    Publication: Hong Kong University Press 2010

  • Interviews

    OCULA / Conversation

    Xiao Lu In Conversation with Mikala Tai

    Sydney, 21 January 2019

  • Other articles

    Time and Tides: Xiao Lu's Recursive Art, 1989-2019

    By Claire Roberts



  • Xiao Lu's writings

    This is why I decline Geoff Raby

    By Xiao Lu

    16 January, 2024

  • "Dialogue" Documents

    Letter from Xiao Lu to Gao Minglu about the shooting of her work Dialogue at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, in 1989.