1 Gao Ping
‘This is Gao Ping, an artist who works in Ditan Park in Beijing, doing ink paintings. Her husband is also an artist and they are a very special, sensitive couple, traditional in many ways. This is in north Beijing, where they have a courtyard with a garden and plant vegetables.
I think this portrait really shows her both inside and out. She’s really thinking deeply here; I can see her personality and her character. It is a gift, to know these kind of people and learn from them.’
2 Tong Kunniao
‘Tong Kunniao is the youngest of the artists, but already quite well known. On this day we were at his studio, and we went to get a coffee and found these things near the lake. We don’t know what they are
– in this village you could find so many weird things – and he straight away said “I have to have them!” We brought them to the studio, and he later used them in an installation
in Beijing. He was walking like this for twenty minutes, dragging them behind him.’
3 Liu Donghong
‘Liu Donghong is a rock and roll musician, a role model across China. His lyrics are very smart – he really paints with his words. I like the mood in this picture, I think it shows a lot about him. He was having some trouble with his girlfriend, we’d drunk quite a bit the evening before, and we were just sitting, smoking, watching the smog outside.
He gave me the name for the book. One time, he started to explain what Chairman Mao said about pigs and chickens, and East and West, and how China looks like a chicken on the map. At the end he said, “And you know, chicken are not naked.” He didn’t explain it; it was just a statement. I kept thinking about that phrase, and I just had to use it.’
4 Dong Dong
‘This is Dong Dong, a tattoo artist who studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). He’s very special because he
doesn’t transfer a
design, he really
paints on skin. He
is always drawing,
he is an artist first and
foremost – although
there is a four-year
waiting list for his
tattoos. He’s small
and quiet, but he has
a very special
He did a tattoo on this friend on the left, who just fell asleep while everyone else was crying out in pain.This photo is funny in a way – you can see this massive guy and fragile Dong Dong, but it talks about his personality.'
5 Li Binyuan
‘This is Li Binyuan, a behaviour
and performance artist. He needs to perform, exhibit and express to create his art, so he is always doing these crazy and creative things.
We visited his little village together, in the South of Hunan, and stayed with his grandparents. One day, I went up to the roof and saw him climbing a tree in front of some cameras he’d set up, climbing so high the tree bent low and he could jump the last metre to the ground. But when he did it the fifth time, he started calling for help. I realised something was wrong, and I saw him fall and hit his head on the concrete below. I really thought he was dead – it was very traumatic.
'We went to
hospital, I was outside during the scan trying to calm his mother
down. He had broken something in his neck. But he wasn’t worried. His neighbours were
like, “what the fuck is wrong with this guy? He could be painter,
a poet – why is filming himself climbing a tree?” He later used
that video in an exhibition.’
Chicken Are Not Naked is available to buy directly through WeChat (ID: stefanieschweiger).