Thursday, November 25, 2010

on Yin Xiuzhen

Stephanie Hsu
Contemporary Art and New Media in China
Blog Post #7

Yin Xiuzhen
I first became introduced to Yin Xiuzhen at the Projects space of the
MoMA in New York City last spring, where her sculptural installation
Collective Subconscious was being exhibited. Collective Subconscious
was composed of a bisected minivan that was connected to a long steel
tube covered with a colorful patchwork made of discarded garments. I
recall the small line of visitors waiting to enter the minivan and
enjoy the snug, relaxing environment inside, where they would be able
to sit on low stools and listen to the nostalgic Chinese pop song,
"Beijing, Beijing" playing softly. As Yin Xiuzhen was the first
Chinese contemporary artist I had encountered at the MoMA, I
immediately attempted to view her work in a Chinese context. I
wondered about the connection between the artist's personal experience
in China and the installation's transformation of public space into
one of intimacy and refuge.
Through Collective Subconscious, Yin Xiuzhen explores the impact of
globalization, international travel, and communication technologies on
family, home, and local culture. The 38-foot-long work revisits the
xiao mian-style minivan that came to be a symbol of family prosperity
in China in the late 1990s, reflecting on the newfound luxury of
automobile ownership that many Chinese families began to enjoy during
the boom in China's economic growth. The patchwork of worn clothing
connecting the two ends of the bisected minivan both evokes a sense of
reminiscence for old daily familiarities and critiques the
"fabricated" material comfort of the new Chinese modern lifestyle.
Like Collective Subconscious, many of Yin Xiuzhen's works deal with
communal memory, nostalgia, and cultural identity. Having grown up in
Beijing during the Cultural Revolution, Yin Xiuzhen has witnessed the
changing dynamics between collectivism and individualism in China
throughout her life. Yin Xiuzhen herself experienced the liberating
impact of China's reform and opening-up period, as she quickly
abandoned traditional oil painting after studying at Beijing's Capital
Normal University to pursue avant-garde installation art. Over the
past 20 years, Yin Xiuzhen has become a leading contemporary artist in
China and a pioneering female influence in the male-dominated Chinese
contemporary art scene. Her work has been shown at international
exhibitions, including the São Paulo Biennial (2004), the Biennale of
Sydney (2004), the Chinese pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2007), and
the Shanghai Biennale (2008).

Works Cited:
"How Latitudes Become Forms: Yin Xiuzhen." Walker Art Center. 16 Nov. 2010
"Yin Xiuzhen." Art in America. 16 Nov. 2010
"Yin Xiuzhen." 16 Nov. 2010 <

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