“[my] artworks actually come from my family background, my feelings of helplessness towards my mother. The works all express a feeling of tragedy and the heavy weight of history..” – Tao Aimin
Dr Monica Merlin interviewed Tao Aimin in Timezone 8 Café in 798 Art District, Beijing on 27 November 2013:
Monica Merlin: Could you talk about your work Women’s River?
Tao Aimin: Women’s River was my first installation, made in 2005. I collected washboards one by one from the countryside, the streets and the places where city blends into countryside. In this work, there are altogether fifty-six washboards, upon which I painted the portraits of their owners. The process of collecting the washboards is like doing a performance piece – I took photographs of the owners and recorded the history of the washboards. I also chatted with the owners about their life stories. Through these conversations, we established an emotional connection and I was able to better understand their lives.
Monica Merlin: How did they react?
Tao Aimin: Since nobody had ever collected old washboards before, the typical reaction was surprise. They found it strange that I would want to collect these things. Nowadays washboards are rarely used in China, since everyone has a washing machine, but these women still fondly remember washing clothes with washboards and some of them actually still use washboards to wash small pieces of clothing. Perhaps because they believe that hand wash is cleaner.