Co-curated by young art scholars Li Beike and Liu Xiyan, their exhibition “In Working: Women in Art Practice — Overseas Chinese Artists Invitational Exhibition” takes a close look at overseas Chinese female artists and their attempts at the diverse possibilities of expression.
In the long history of human civilization, female artists have been part of the agricultural, industrial and intellectual production and contributed physically, emotionally and intellectually to the society. They may or may not be self-aware of their identity as an artist. By investigating their creations, the exhibition takes the public on a journey to rethink the contributions of overseas Chinese women to social development, cultural exchange and intellectual innovation in our modern society.
Wang Huangsheng (L) during a media briefing in front of Liu Beili’s “Lure” at He Xiangning Art Museum on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of the exhibition organizer
“The curators and the artists featured in this exhibition represent new generations of female artists, who, instead of focusing their attention on the unique role of women as the caretaker in families, put women in a broader social perspective and explore their experience and value as individuals,” said Wang Huangsheng, curator of the Guangdong Museum of Art who serves as a consultant to the exhibition. “The artists are also more interested in the relationship between nature and human civilizations, and the universal loneliness felt by humans, instead of focusing on their identity as Chinese immigrants in a Western culture, although that subject is reflected in some works.”
The exhibition invited 16 female artists who have lived overseas for a long time or have been traveling between China and abroad, to present their art practices in a multidimensional way.
Chang Yuchen, a graduate of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and Art Institute of Chicago who now lives in New York City, presents “Use Value.” The exhibit consists of various aprons the artist handmade as well as price tags for the pieces with elaborate arithmetic to calculate the results. With this piece, the artist reminds the audience that the product of women’s housework can also be a work of art and has economic value not to be neglected.
Ma Wen, a graduate of the Pratt Institute who lives in New York City and Beijing, had her works exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Here she presents “Threading the Sky,” a visually stunning paper sculpture installed on the two facing walls of a corridor. One side black and the other white, the paper sculpture mimics plants vying for sunshine as they grow upwards, a metaphor for two opposing powers attracted to and competing against each other.
Shen Cai, who last year graduated with a master’s degree from the Parsons School of Design in the United States, identifies herself as a “cyborg” artist. Her work “No Different” ponders on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has on us. The installation consists of two parts: avatars of individuals the artist painted hidden in transparent boxes covered by adhesive bands with codes written on them, and screens playing a short video of the real persons, with codes scrolling down the screens at the same time. The artist asks a question that may have occurred to everyone, “Is that person I’m interacting with online real?”
The 16 artists, designers and architects exhibit their works in three sections. “Memory/Migration” focuses on how they engage in collective and individual memories, including themes such as heritage and inheritance, immigrant and migration, food and culture, etc. “Usual/Unusual” focuses on how the artists complete the transformation and breakthrough of identity between daily housework and art practice. “Chance/Change” showcases the poetic imagination and thoughtful contemplation of the artists on macro topics such as social development and the future of science and technology.
Another exhibition reviewing the fundraising activities by Chinese female revolutionary and artist He Xiangning (1878-1972) during wartime in the 1920s is also being held. In autumn 1929, He took more than 350 paintings and calligraphic works by her friends and herself on a tour to Southeast Asia, including countries such as the Philippines and Singapore, contacting overseas Chinese there, raising funds for the Zhongkai Agricultural and Industrial School and promoting Chinese culture.
Dates: Until March 27
Booking: WeChat account “hxnartmuseum”
Venue: He Xiangning Art Museum, Nanshan District (南山区何香凝美术馆)
Metro: Line 1 to OCT Station (华侨城站), Exit C