“Kongkong made it possible for me to go through all the feelings of motherhood.”

Born 1953, Chongqing, Sichuan

Xiong Wenyun has long been fascinated by colour and its effects; she also spent several years in Japan, where she was greatly influenced by pop culture and anime. Her doll-baby Kongkong has a deeper significance than his “Hello Kitty”–like appearance suggests. His name is taken from a line of the Heart Sutra: Se ji shi kong kong ji shi se, or “Colour is emptiness, emptiness is color”, which eastern philosophers say is demonstrated every time a prism splits invisible light into a rainbow. Xiong Wenyun created Kongkong as a way to address the disappointment of childlessness, and treats the stuffed-toy version as a real infant. She dresses him, talks to him, buys him toys, and photographs him in everyday scenarios (brushing his teeth, doing tai chi, playing computer games). To others Kongkong may be an artwork, but to his creator he is alive. Xiong Wenyun says his three “horns” represent antennas, which collect and transmit qi energy. But what really animates him is the force of the artist’s imagination.

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