Modu Magazine: A Tale of Urban China

Liu Xiaodong: Diary of an Empty City – Exhibition

With Diary of an Empty City, Liu Xiaodong reveals a panorama of the social urban northern China. Depicting the daily life of a few protagonists – real or fictional – living in Ordos, he leads us to question the Chinese urban dream of the 21st century. Located in Inner-Mongolia, Ordos fascinates international media throughout its vastness and strangeness. The city has recently poped up near huge coal mines which have made the fortune of a few farmers or miners. It has also forced the nomads to adapt to the new pace of the city, with its shopping mall and skyscrapers. However only 20 000 dwellers live in Ordos – a paradox in the light of the considerable means engaged.

Between a modern Don Quixote epic adventure and a Daumier-like bitter tale, the work of Liu Xiaodong, a major figure of Chinese comtemporary art, is well known for his expressionist style and his series on China’s transformation process, like the Three Gorges Dam or the transition from countryside to city. He often sets his easel down on the same spot for weeks to immerse himself in the local environment and gain a firm grip of the reality of the ground, working both through small sketches and large sized oil paintings. In this new series, horses and riders dressed in traditional costumes stand alongside a trendy youth. In the background lies the daily life of a somewhat ghostly city under construction.

Wavering between the Chinese dream and its desillusions, and between kitsch and romantic, Liu Xiaodong’s work tends to remind us of the movies directed by Jia Zhangke’s, with whom he collaborated twice to document his work.

Author: Marie Terrieux



Rural China


September 12, 2015 to October 18, 2015
  • 2015/09/12 - 2015/10/18

  • Beijing

  • Faurschou Foundation