Introduction to: “A Conversation with Hsieh Tehching, from The Black Cover Book”

This introduction situates the conversation between Hsieh Teh-Ching, Ai Weiwei and Xu Bing within a larger historic and socio-cultural framework, as well as elaborates a brief history of the publication in which the conversation was first published, The Black Cover Book. The text also elaborates on the unarticulated issues informing their discussion, such as their émigré status, and briefly outlines a history of the artists’ work at the time of the conversation. The work of other avant-garde artists in the Chinese diaspora whose work was published in The Black Cover Book is also touched upon briefly. This introduction reclaims some of the history behind the publication and argues for understanding the act of self-publication as not only a new conduit for artistic interaction but also a political act. Furthermore, it argues that it not only congealed an emerging art movement on Mainland China, but that this avant-garde and conceptual art movement was, at its very core, defined by a global field of reference.

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