Half the Sky
It was Chairman Mao who said, ‘Women hold up half the sky.’
The artists in Half the Sky are grouped in the following chapters…
1 ALTER EGOS AND AVATARS
2 TWO GUNSHOTS IN BEIJING
3 NEEDLE AND THREAD: MATERIAL PRACTICES
4 ‘BLACK AS LACQUER’: REINVENTING INK
5 PAINTING THE ZEITGEIST
6 PAST AND PRESENT
7 INSCRIPTIONS ON THE BODY
8 Nüshu: A SECRET LANGUAGE OF WOMEN
9 A WINDOW OPENS
10 BLURRED BOUNDARIES
Chapter 1, Alter Egos and Avatars, includes Bu Hua whose alter ego is sometimes dressed as a schoolchild of the revolutionary past in a red Young Pioneer scarf and short skirt to represent contemporary female experience (see cover image). Also in Chapter 1 are Cui Xiuwen’s Angels who mirror Cui Xiuwen’s journeys through a changing Chinese landscape.
Chapter 4 on contemporary ink and brush painting includes Li Tingting, who paints unconventional subjects in a traditional manner, and Bingyi, whose vast ink paintings become immersive, site-specific installations. Amongst other paintings are Yu Hong’s contemporary figures floating on backgrounds of gold leaf, the thousands of figures squeezed from the paint tubes of Qin Fengling, and Huang Jingyuan’s black-and-white Gossip from Confucius City, an ongoing project examining how China presents itself to the world. Working in other media, Half the Sky also presents many sculptors, photographers, video artists and performance artists.
Recently there has been considerable interest in women artists in China, with major survey shows of Lin Tianmiao and Yin Xiuzhen. Gao Rong and Yin Xiuzhen were selected for the 2013 Moscow Biennale, Cao Fei for the 2015 Venice Biennale. In 2016, several more of the artists featured in Half the Sky have developed stellar international careers.
Luise wrote, ‘I wanted to allow the artists a space to reveal their ideas about what drives their work, in their own words, whilst at the same time placing their works in historical, social and political context.