“Vermilion Art bravely showed the first exhibition of Chinese women artists in Australia, curated by former Australian Ambassador to China, Geoff Raby. I say ‘bravely’ because the history of all-women exhibitions inside and outside of China is contested and complicated.”
by Luise Guest, art educator in China
I’ve been a long time away from this blog, regretfully: writing full time about Chinese contemporary art, and (because, clearly, I’m insane) undertaking a PhD on top of that full-time job has taken all the time I have. There are not enough hours in the day. Sometimes lately I have to remind myself to breathe. But….
An event last week in Sydney is not something that I can let pass without comment. Vermilion Art bravely showed the first exhibition of Chinese women artists in Australia, curated by former Australian Ambassador to China, Geoff Raby. I say ‘bravely’ because the history of all-women exhibitions inside and outside of China is contested and complicated. And I say that, too, as someone who has curated one: ‘Half the Sky’ at Beijing’s Red Gate Gallery in 2016 was an exhibition I organised with Tony Scott to coincide with the launch of my book of the same name. I had decided that the only possible curatorial premise was a very simple one: a selection of interesting work by women who featured in my book. I did not apply any over-arching conceptual premise to connect them, although several possible themes and tendencies did emerge. Most of these were ignored by reporters, though, who only wanted to ask me about my views of the ‘leftover women’ phenomenon and what people in Australia thought of it. Sigh.
In the 1990s in China there were a number of all-women exhibitions that left artists a little bruised and critics a little bemused. The reasons are sufficient for a whole doctoral thesis, but suffice it to say that one artist said to me, ‘They don’t have exhibitions and call them “exhibitions of mens’ work”, they’re just exhibitions! Why should women be any different?’ I don’t agree with this, because of course the point is that there are still far too few women artists represented in the big curated shows – including the dismal statistic of 9 women in more than 72 artists in the recent Guggenheim exhibition, ‘Art And China After 1989: Theater of the World’. But the conundrum of ‘nüxing yishu‘ (womens’ art) and what the term might imply is at the heart of my own research. Like everything else in China, it’s complicated.
To read the full article, please refer to: https://anartteacherinchina.blogspot.com/2018/06/sworn-sisters.html?m=1