In the 18th century, Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus defined the skin color of Asian people as the Latin word “luridus”, meaning pale yellow. Then it gradually became the representative color of Asian skin. With the development of globalization, this concept is spread widely in the Chinese community. “Reflection” contains meanings of both the reflecting of images and the act of contemplation. “Yellow Reflection” points to, on the one hand, yellow and its emblematic connotations of cultural background, identification and collective memories; on the other hand, the implications of a western “gaze” upon the east, a reflection with the presence of “the other”.
This exhibition unifies the voices of 32 ethnic Chinese artists. Under the theme of yellow, it leads a discussion involving subjects such as stereotypes, cultural identity of ethnic Chinese as well as the art institution and system dominated by the west.
The brightness of the yellow implies the distinctive political and cultural provocations of the exhibition which is the refusal of marginalization by the west. “The mirror stage” of Jacques Lacan has mentioned the conception of “gaze”: “I” constructs itself under the imagery of “the other”, forming an “ideal-I”. Within the framework of Edward Said’s “Orientalism”, this self-perception leads to self-alienation of the subject. In a mechanism where the art world evolves by the rules of the west, how to resist the cultural appropriation and construct Chinese’s own esthetic system? The artists aspire to break the illusion of the mirror while challenging the idealistic self viewed by the west and breaking the silence of “the other”.
The artworks of 32 artists conduct a dialogue that surpasses geographical limits. Despite the preexisting differences among artists in personal background and cultural experiences, they share the commonality of being the “yellow skinned” strangers in Europe. Although bearing the same appeals, the artworks blossom into multidimensional individual expressions. Some prefer a micro perspective and share in their works personal intimate experiences as a cultural outsider, others choose a more macro vision and discover the commonality resided in the conditions of Chinese immigrant community. The approach of the art works varies largely also: critically observation of the continuation of a post-colonial context in the digital era; the searching for a spiritual root and the attempt to reconstruct a cultural identity; the pursue of a coexistence with the calling of universal spirits and human conditions etc. As artists living in Europe, they have first-handedly witnessed the conflict of two cultures. They are thus more entitled to express the intervention by the west in eastern esthetics experiences using the power of discourse. To rebel against centralized and westernized thinking and esthetics model, the artists intend to confirm their own cultural position and promote diversities in the contemporary cultural discourse.
The artists living in Europe question about: Being defined as yellow skin, what represents our origin? How to describe the transfer of identity with the detachment from our homelands? Living in a foreign language, history, cultural background and with the mutual dependence and influences of individuals and the society, the identities of artists is being erased or highlighted, distorted or mistranslated?
This will be an exploration of questioning, contemplating on the border of identity and a deconstruction across native memories and foreign frontiers.
During the opening on Thursday, March 7 , two performances will take place: that of Lu Qing (the public will be filmed and broadcasted directly via a projector attached to his back) and that of the duo Xuan Shi & Niannian Zhou (contemporary dancers).
aaajiao // Cao Yixiao // Carla Chan // Chu Hongrui // Ce Jian & Cheng Yuzheng // He Xiangyu // Hui Ye // Isaac Chong Wai // Li Tingwei // Lu Qing // Liao Wenfeng // Liang Zhipeng // Liu Xingzan // Musquiqui Chihying // Ruohan Wang // Shen Han // Shaotong He & Bangjoo Kim // Song Jing // Tian Dexi // Tsao Yidi // Wang Xiyao // Xie Lei // Xue Liu // Xuan Shi & Niannian Zhou // Yao Qingmei // Yi Li // Zhang Jianling // Zhang Yiy // Zhao Duan