Wǒmen (我们): Contemporary Chinese Art
Wǒmen (我们): Contemporary Chinese Art was the inaugural undergraduate curatorship offered as a part of the two year Greenberg Fellowship at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. My co-curators, Danielle Wu and Samantha Allen, and I formed a small interdisciplinary team focused on broadening the understanding of what it means to be a Chinese female artist today.
This exhibition was the inaugural undergraduate curatorship offered as a part of the two-year Greenberg Fellowship at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. My co-curators, Danielle Wu and Samantha Allen, and I formed a small interdisciplinary team with the help of our advisor, Kristina Kleutghen, focused on broadening the understanding of what it means to be a Chinese female artist today. View full exhibition catalog with essay
The show's title is a play on words. While Wǒmen (我们) can be read as "women" in English, the word translates to "us" in Chinese. We chose works that explored socio-political themes that both spoke to specifically Chinese society as well as to our broader contemporary, globalized culture as a whole. Each piece displays a hightened sense of artificiality that highlights the illusions of modern life.
Concurrent with China's incredibly fast-paced economic transformation and its rise as a prominent global power, contemporary Chinese art has developed an increasing international presence with its emergence in the Reform Era (1978–present). That being said, Chinese women practicing art today are underrepresented in institutions around the world. We wanted to counteract this bias by sharing their unique perspectives.
Chen Man (b. 1980). Golden Fish Goblin, 2004. Transparency on Plexiglas light box, 33 7/8 x 34 13/16'' (86 x 88.4 cm). Courtesy of Zadok Gallery, Miami. Copyright Chen Man.
Yin Xiuzhen (b. 1963). Portable City – Hangzhou, 2011. Suitcase, clothes, magnifying glass, map, and sound element. 11 x 59 13/16 x 34 5/8". (27. 9 x 151.9 x 87.9 cm). Courtesy of Pace Beijing. Copyright Yin Xiuzhen.
Chen Ke (b.1978). With You, I'll Never Feel Lonely – Toy Plano, " " – Mirror, " " Clock One, " " Television, " " Table Lamp, " " Tin Bird, 2007. All C–prints 11 13/16 x 11 13/16" (30 x 30 cm). Courtesy of Star Gallery, Beijing.
Cao Fei (b. 1978). Birth of RMB City, 2009. Single channel color video with sound. 10:30 min. Courtesy of the artist. Lombard Freid Gallery, New York, and VItamin Creative Space, Guangzhou.
Chen Ke (b.1978). With You, I'll Never Feel Lonely – Toy Plano, 2007. C–print 11 13/16 x 11 13/16" (30 x 30 cm). Courtesy of Star Gallery, Beijing.
Hung Liu (b. 1948). Bonsai, 1992. Photolithograph from two plates on Rives BFK paper. 22 1/2 x 30" (57.2 x 76.2 cm). Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. Washington University In St. Louis. Gift of Island Press (formerly the Washington University School of Art Collaborative Print Workshop), 1993.
Hung Liu (b. 1948). Trademark, 1992. Photolithograph with collage on Rives BFK paper, 22 1/2 x 33" (57.2 x 83.8 cm). Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University In St. Louis. Gift of Island Press (formerly the Washington University School of Art Collaborative Print Workshop), 1993.
Cui Xiuwen (b. 1970). Angel No. 11, 2006. C–print. 47 x 39 3/8" (119.4 x 100 cm). Courtesy of Eli Klein Fine Art, New York. Copyright Cui Xluwen.
Xing Danwen (b. 1967). Urban Fiction, image 1, 2009. C–print. 31 7/16 x 43 1/8" (79.9 x 109.5 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery, San Francisco.
" " Urban Fiction, image 23, 2005. C–print, 31 7/16 x 39 5/16" (79.9 x 99.9 cm). " "
" " Urban Fiction, image 19, 2008. C–print, 31 5/8 x 40 4/8 " (80.3 x 103.2 cm). " "
Our group organized and hosted a family-oriented craft designed to teach children about Péking Opera Masks and Chinese theatre. We also read traditional Chinese folk tales in the gallery space throughout the day.
To see some of the artworks from the show visit the Kemper's exhibition summary. We were fortunate enough to be featured in numerous publications and blogs during the show, including Beijing's prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). In preparation for the next round of Greenberg fellows, I wrote a short reflection on my time with the Kemper for their blog, Palette Scrapings. For the full essay, view the exhibition catalog.
As an internal side project for our team, I designed a map of our gallery that coded our curatorial themes to each artwork.
Danielle, Sam & I discuss the themes of Wǒmen (我们) and the artists we individually studied alongside their work in the gallery space.