Stepping Out! Female Identities in Chinese Contemporary Art presents a collection of more than 80 works that across video, performance, painting, photography and sculpture reflect and explore the major developments and transformations that Chinese society has undergone since the 1980s. The exhibition shows the Chinese art scene through artists born in the period between 1960 and 1994. They belong to the generations that grew up with the great economic, political and cultural changes that China has seen from the time of the Cultural Revolution until today, and work in the field of tension between past and present, and longing for a different future.
Tradition, humour, intimacy and urbanisation
The focus of the exhibition’s works is on woman’s position and view of herself, her gender, sexuality and role. Several works deal with the relationship between city and countryside, and the dramatic changes that have arisen as consequences of urbanisation. Chen Qiulin’s (b. 1975) video work Farewell Poem is a melancholy tribute to her hometown Wanzhou, which had to make way for The Three Gorges Dam with dramatic results, not only for the landscape, but also for the more than 4 million people who were forced to move. In Tao Aimin’s (b. 1974) major installation work The Women’s River, collected hand-painted washboards become an undulating river and a tale of migration and the role of women in the clash between tradition and modernity.
In other works, which range between the humorous, grim and not least deeply personal, the artists use their own bodies to engage in critical dialogue around gender, motherhood and sexuality. The video work Fountain by Cao Yu (b. 1988) shows a fountain of breast milk that is both homage to motherhood and an acrid comment on the porno industry’s presentation of the female body. The photo series I Am a Woman by Xing Danwen (b 1967) is an intimate series of images that document the life of the artist and her circle of acquaintances with highly intimate pictures that lay bare women’s self-awareness and sexuality.
Stepping Out! Female Identities in Chinese Contemporary Art presents works by the artists Wen Hui, Lin Tianmiao, Xiao Lu, Yin Xiuzhen, He Chengyao, Yu Hong, Xing Danwen, Cui Xiuwen, Xiang Jing, Bu Hua, Peng Wei, Tao Aimin, Chen Qiulin, Li Xinmo, Cao Fei, Sun Shaokun, Ma Qiusha, Geng Xue, Hu Yinping, Fan Xi, Luo Yang, Liu Xi, Cao Yu, Chen Zhe, Tong Wenmin and Liang Xiu.