|Look at that handsome furrowed brow on E -- we are so studious :)|
China’s recent climb to a prominent global economic power has pushed its art to the forefront of public interest. However, critically acclaimed Chinese contemporary art remains dominated by male artists; chinese women artists continue to be much less visible than their male counterparts.Playing around with titles for the show, we came accross "Wo Men" in a scholarly article. You know that feeling a bride gets, when she is trying on wedding dresses and suddenly tries on one that's "the one"? I don't know the feeling myself, but I think it would have felt pretty close to this!
Identified as both a race and a gender that have been historically treated by the West as inferior, Chinese women artists are discovering more possibilities to become more globally connected and vocal than ever before. Various Chinese women artists offer their differing views on the current status of women through expression in their artwork. Their works reveal tensions between the past and the future, globalization and tradition, as well as individual and collective identity. For some, the Cultural Revolution is a story passed down from their parents; for others, it resonates as a palpitating memory.
Careful study of the varied representations by these women reveal multiple, complex layers that are sometimes difficult to interpret -- from suppression and insecurity, to re-appropriation and retaliation. They are neither contained by one singular identity nor bound to perceptions of women that have been handed down from the past. Rather, these artists engage with the past by juxtaposing it with and against a new, rapidly evolving global, industrial and technological Chinese society. In this way, their work marks a critical turning point in both gender and global relationships, and will direct the Kemper and the St. Louis art community to artforms and discussions that have since been absent locally.
Wo men in Chinese literally translates to "us" or "we" in English. Because it is a unisex pronoun, it unites all of our artists without restricting them to one identity, as females. When read phonetically, it sounds ironically like the English word "women," which alludes to themes of Western misinterpretation and misrepresentation depicted in some of the works to be featured.
I am sure most of this will change over the course of the next few months, so I am confident I'm not spoiling anything. I just think it's interesting to catalog raw data, you know? Til next time! :)