The group’s first formal show, “Xiamen ’86 New Dada Modern Art Exhibition,” took place in 1986. At its conclusion, the artists brought the 60 oil paintings that had been on view inside the museum out onto its lawn, then set them on fire. It was an act of self-liberation, according to Huang, who famously stated, “Artworks are for the artist what opium is for men. Until art is destroyed, life is never peaceful.”
At least in part due to this act of destruction, the group was barred from staging further exhibitions, but remained active until 1989, creating works that questioned notions of authorship—including taking up the use of Duchampian ready-mades. Huang immigrated to France, where he has continued his practice. His fellow members of Xiamen Dada also dispersed and have continued to work solo, some later going on to teach within the Chinese art school system. But the group—arguably the most radical of China’s ’80s avant-garde movements—continues to influence art today, both in China and internationally. It marked an important chapter in developing the artistic voice of an open China, and one which warrants further study.