This photograph documents a performance in which ten artists, led by Zhang Huan, use their bodies to add one metre to Miaofeng Mountain near Beijing. The naked artists lie on top of each other, with the lightest on top, forming a mountain-like structure on a dry grassy patch of ground. A mountainous landscape cloaked in fog is in the background. The participating artists were Wang Shihua, Cang Xin, Gao Yang, Zuoxiao Zuzhou, Ma Zongyin, Zhang Huan, Ma Liuming, Zhang Binbin, Duan Yingmei, and Zhu Ming. All were part of the Beijing East Village community, an avant-garde group formed in the early 1990s. The performance was also documented on video.
For Zhang and his East Village colleagues, the body is the most direct form of communication. While the bodies here alter the landscape temporarily, they also acknowledge their own insignificance in relation to the magnitude of nature. This image became the most iconic representation of the work of the Beijing East Village artists.
Zhang Huan (born 1965, Anyang) graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Henan University, Kaifeng, in 1988, and earned a Master of Fine Arts from Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, in 1993. Primarily working in performance, photography, and sculpture, his work addresses the conflicts of contemporary democracy and challenges oppressive political regimes. Zhang lives and works in Shanghai.