Born 1978, Jingmen, Hubei

Liu Chuang calls himself an “art interventionist”. His aim, he says, is to introduce subtle disruptions into ordinary scenes and events so they will appear in a new, poetic light. In Untitled (Festival) (2011), he turns a public holiday for Chinese New Year into a silent ritual. Walking along a smog-veiled, rubbish-strewn street with a newspaper under his arm, he lights a page, holds it until it curls and blackens, then drops it and lights a new page from its fading flame. His private procession—inspired, he says, by the Olympic torch relay—draws barely a glance from the desultory crowds around him. That we see this mysterious ceremony while they do not makes us wonder if we are always so perceptive. Or is life filled with humble mysteries, moments of grubby beauty, that we cannot or will not take the time to see? For Love Story (2014), Liu Chuang collected 2000 pulp romances whose readers, mostly low-paid factory workers, had scrawled their own writings on the heavily thumbed pages. Their notes—from diary entries, personal ads and phone numbers to letters and poetry—form a palimpsest of loneliness and longing in which semiliterate writers, talking mostly to themselves, send texts from the heart to readers they will never meet.

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