Today’s discussion of women’s social identity lies not only in equality and empowerment, but also in reaffirming their creativity and distinction in social work. The exhibition “In Working: Women in Art Practice” takes the overseas female artists as the object of investigation, and summarizes their various ways of artistic creation as the investigative approach, aiming to provide a new perspective to reflect on the normality and breakthrough of contemporary overseas Chinese women in their art practice.
We believe that the work of overseas Chinese female artists offers, first of all, various appearances. That is to say, their works are universal, in terms of them being art professionals and overseas immigrants - sophisticated use and philosophical thinking on the artistic elements from both the East and the West, integration and expression of their diaspora identity and nostalgia complex; as well as unique, in terms of them being women - being always concerned with the balance and transformation between housework and social work, paying more attention to women’s potential and special approaches involved in social development. This uniqueness comes along with the progress of feminist movement and the transformation of new family relationships, but also inseparable from the cross-cultural context in which they live their daily. Work is a necessary means to survive in a foreign land and a carrier in action carrying their cultural memories.
Meanwhile, the work of overseas Chinese female artists presents a contradictory paradox to some extent. These artists repeatedly think about how comes the differentiation between the value of domestic work and social work, constantly scrutinize the complex connection between the uniqueness of individual work and the sameness of collective memory, and through employing more feminine artistic working methods such as sewing, knitting and dancing, they also constantly try to respond to the issues of the times in a de-gendered position. In such a paradox, there is undoubtedly dilemma, anxiety, struggle, and confusion, but never abandonment or speechlessness. The outstanding vitality of overseas Chinese female artists is that, in all their personal feelings and practic.es, they still maintain a positive, progressive, and even speculative attitude to interpret contradictions, pursue answers and explain themselves. This effort comes from the historical accumulation of women’s sensitive, subtle and sophisticated work, which has the power to gradually reveal little by little, but also is a reflection of the current reality that overseas Chinese women are constantly playing their roles in social participation and cultural construction.
The exhibition invites 16 overseas Chinese female artists, designers and architects to present their different work and roles in art practice, as well as their different interpretations and commentaries on these work and roles in three sections. The first section, “Memory / Migration” focuses on how overseas Chinese female artists engage in collective and individual memory, including themes such as heritage and inheritance, immigrant and migration, food and culture, etc.; The second section, “Usual / Unusual” focuses on how overseas Chinese female artists complete the transformation and breakthrough of identity between daily housework and art practice; The third section, “Chance / Change” showcases the poetic imagination and thoughtful contemplation of overseas Chinese female artists on macro topics such as social development and the future of science and technology.
It is worth mentioning that, the realization of this exhibition is particularly meaningful, as the pandemic is still prevalent. The artists and the museum together make the exhibition come into implementation via new forms of work, such as online collaboration, which echoes the theme of this exhibition, “In Working”, and demonstrates overseas Chinese female artists’ new ways of carrying out their art practice.