Born Shanghai, 1962. Lives and works in Changzhou, Jiangsu
Jin Feng is as much a social activist as he is an artist—he even refers to his works as “cases”. His goal is to bring before people’s eyes “the many problems in this society which are almost impossible to solve” and the ethical failures that underlie them. In 2006 he stirred outrage and some public soul-searching with twin statues of the ancient philosopher Confucius, crying so hard that his face melts away. “What would Confucius say about today’s education and morality if he were still alive?” Jin Feng says. His fifteen-metre-long photograph Appeals Without Words (2006) shows, at half life size, eighty-nine rural villagers queuing to present shang fang—petitions to the authorities. Standing or crouching with their backs to a wall, they are covered in a mix of black and gold paint, conveying their ties to the land, their poverty, and the idea that their long wait has turned them to statues. But their grubby squares of cardboard and paper are empty. Their patience is pointless, the artist suggests; no one is listening.