The symbolic self-portrait by Sheng Qi is a large color photograph from a performance in 1989. It shows the artist’s left hand, palm up, with the little finger missing, holding a tiny, black-and-white snapshot of himself as a young boy. The background is flat and red.
story of sorrow, sacrifice, honor. It begins with the June 1989 protests on Tiananmen Square, where several of the artist’s friends were killed. Four months later, Sheng cut off his finger during a performance, an act of mourning and commemoration, and refused to have it reattached. He buried the finger in a flowerpot and exiled himself from Beijing to Rome. He writes: “The record of my left hand records Me from 1965 to the present. The imperfect left hand + old photos . . . is me.” Nothing else needs be said.