Ma Liuming began making his nude performance pieces in Beijing in the early 1990s, usually in front of a small circle of friends. With long hair and feminine features, he uses his androgynous look as an important part of his art and wears make-up to transform his face into his female alter ego, Fen. In the earlier works he would sit naked on a platform, while in later works, such as Fen Ma Liuming in Lyon (France) from 2001, he is also drugged with sleeping pills that render him essentially motionless. Those in attendance are then invited to come on stage and take a picture with the artist. Some pose at his feet, others disrobe and sit next to him, most engage the limp body as a prop. Audience reaction varies from country to country. Their expressions vary from amusement to challenge to adoration, but their awareness of the camera (and its importance in provoking their reaction) is never in question.\par
Ma Liuming was born in 1969 in Huangshi, Hubei Province, China. He graduated from the Hubei Academy of Fine Arts, Hubei, China in 1991 with a focus in oil painting. He has performed and exhibited work internationally, including such countries as Switzerland, Italy, Austria, China, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and the USA. Between 2000 and 2003 alone he has had solo performances and exhibitions at Soobin Art Gallery, Singapore; Tensta Konsthall, Sweden; Gallery Q, Tokyo, Japan; Studio 303, part of Festival Art Action Actual, Montreal, Canada; Les Subsistances TM, part of Polysonneries Festival, Lyon, France; Kunsthallen Brandst Kladefabrik, part of 3rd International Performance Festival, Odense, Denmark; Imperial Mint, part of the 7th International Isanbul Biennial; Dilston Grove Church, part of Span2 International Performance Art, London; Teater Utan Kayu, Jakarta, Indonesia; Kwangju Biennale, Kwangju, Korea; Kunstraum, Germany, part of Performance Art in NRW 2000; and Baan Chao Praya, part of the 3rd International Performance Art Festival, Bangkok, Thailand. He currently lives and works in Beijing
Ma Liuming (born 1969 in Huangshi, Hubei province) is a contemporary Chinese painter and pioneer of performance art. He is known most of all for his exploration of the power and poetry of public nudity in China, where such behavior was strictly forbidden. That is why he has been the target of government censorship, unable to perform in his own country for most of his career.
In 1981 Ma Liuming started to study oil painting with tutor Cai Erhe. He graduated from Hubei Institute of Fine Arts in 1991 (MFA) in the Oil Painting Department. Two years later, he was one of the founders of Beijing East Village, an artists colony on the outskirts of Beijing. In the early 1990s it became a Mecca for experimental art forms. One of Ma Liumings first performances was called "Fen-Ma Liumings Lunch 1", a collaboration with Zhang Huan and Zhu Ming in 1994. He sat, completely nude, sucking a plastic tube that was attached to his penis. In 1994 Ma Liuming was arrested for a period of two months because of works like this. Many of the artists of the Beijing East Village fled in response to this police action.
In order to match his own uniquely androgynous appearance Ma Liuming developed his own performance persona Fen-Ma Liuming, a hybrid figure of male and female components.
Next to performances painting is a key component in his works. Since 2000, he has developed his "Baby series", in which the face of Fen-Ma Liuming appears on infants bodies. It is a surrealistic image that is both disturbing and laughable. Throughout different mediums such as performance, painting and photography Ma Liuming continues to investigate the limits of provocation, seducing his audience into an inquiry of more intriguing matters.