The Cultural Revolution stripped Chinese artists of their creative freedom, since art was considered to be a propaganda tool. In reaction to this situation - after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and alongside the reforms introduced by President Deng Xiaoping in 1978 - since the end of the 1970s, a series of movements that provided an alternative to official art began to investigate the artistic avant-gardes in the West, evolving against the strict norms of socialist realism to claim freedom of expression. Artists started to demystify political symbols and experiment with new languages like photography, installations, performance art and video.
Action art was not fully established in China until 1993 with the creation of the Beijing East Village artistic community (a reference to the district in which Zhang Huan (Anyang, 1965), Cang Xin, Zhu Ming and other artists belonging to this group lived), which broke up in 1997. Given its protesting nature, performance art was censored for many years. Since it often takes up banned topics like nudity, sexuality and politics, the artists were seen as agitators. Art/Action China arose from the need to consider the social and political context in which these artists lived in order to fully understand their actions, initiatives that reflect on how the subject faces the transition to a new capitalist society.