Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

Yin Xiuzhen

15 Dec 2012 - 10 Mar 2013

© Yin Xiuzhen
Unbearable Warmth, 2008
1000 scarves
dia. 365 cm x h. 25 cm
Courtesy of The Pace Gallery, Beijing
15 December 2012 – 10 March 2013

The Kunst­hal­le Düs­sel­dorf, in col­la­bo­ra­ti­on wi­th the Gro­nin­ger Mu­se­um, is pre­sen­ting the first ma­jor so­lo ex­hi­bi­ti­on in Eu­ro­pe de­vo­ted to the work of one of Chi­na’s most im­portant ar­tists, YIN Xi­uzhen (born 1963 in Pe­king, li­ves and
works the­re). The show con­sists of a com­pre­hen­si­ve sur­vey of her ar­tis­tic oeu­vre.

The ex­hi­bi­ti­on be­gins wi­th Yin’s ear­ly in­stal­la­ti­ons that are of­ten pre­sen­ted in un­in­ha­b­i­ted, un­tou­ched land­scapes and now exist so­le­ly in the shape of pho­to­gra­phic do­cu­men­ta­ti­ons. The show fo­cu­ses howe­ver on the ex­pan­si­ve in­stal­la­ti­ons as
well as the re­cent mo­nu­men­tal ac­ces­si­ble tex­ti­le in­stal­la­ti­ons that re­pre­sent a wa­ter­s­hed in Yin’s oeu­vre.

Yin’s works from the 1990s, for ex­amp­le “Wa­shing Ri­ver” (1995), are stron­gly mo­ti­va­ted by po­li­tics when she broa­ches the the­me of the con­se­quen­ces of in­dus­try and tech­no­lo­gy on na­tu­re and the peop­le: a per­for­mance is do­cu­men­ted in pho­to­graphs in which Chi­ne­se ci­ti­zens “wa­sh” dir­ty wa­ter that has be­en fro­zen in­to a rectan­gu­lar block of ice wi­th spon­ges un­til the ice melts. Other pho­to­graphs, for in­stan­ce “The Tree of Par­ting” (1994), re­fe­rence a se­pa­ra­te re­du­ced aest­he­tic by me­ans of the mo­tif and its pic­to­ri­al com­po­si­ti­on that makes it ap­pe­ar li­ke an au­to­no­mous work, de­s­pi­te the fact that it was not con­cei­ved as such.

Yin has pro­du­ced lar­ge-sca­le sculp­tu­ral and in­stal­la­ti­ve works sin­ce the la­te 1990s from old clot­hing, shoes, fur­ni­tu­re and sim­ple con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­al li­ke ce­ment and sto­ne, of­ten in pu­blic spaces. A dis­tinc­tive turning point in Yin’s work is evi­dent af­ter 2000: se­cond-hand clot­hing has be­co­me a rich sour­ce of ide­as and sub­se­quent pie­ces that of­ten re­vol­ve around sta­te-of-the-art tech­no­lo­gy and ur­ban grow­th. By selec­ting air­planes, au­to­mo­bi­les and high­ways as the mo­tifs for her lar­ge sculp­tu­res, the ar­tist calls at­ten­ti­on to the see­mingly li­mit­less­ness of mo­bi­li­ty and the fast-mo­ving pace of to­day’s glo­ba­li­sed world. Wi­th their rich­ness in de­tail and the re­ve­la­ti­on of the in­di­vi­du­al parts that are at­ta­ched to each other, for ex­amp­le wel­ded sheets of me­tal or sewn-to­ge­ther pie­ces of cloth, Yin’s works si­mul­ta­neous­ly re­fe­rence ar­tis­tic han­dicrafts them­sel­ves that re­qui­re skill, pa­ti­ence and above all ti­me.

Ex­pan­si­ve pie­ces such as
“Collec­tive Sub­con­scious (blue)” (2007) and “En­gi­ne” (2008) ex­em­pli­fy this am­bi­gui­ty in her in­stal­la­ti­ons: on the one hand it is the over­sti­mu­la­ti­on and ra­pid rhyth­ms of ever­y­day big ci­ty li­fe that af­fects the collec­tive sub­con­scious as well as the heart, the “mo­tor” of the in­di­vi­du­al. But on the other hand the­se works in par­ti­cu­lar al­so in­vi­te the view­er to ta­ke ti­me, to
sit in the au­to­mo­bi­le and to lis­ten to the mu­sic that ac­com­pa­nies the in­stal­la­ti­on.

In do­ing so, the vi­si­tor be­co­mes a cen­tral part of the in­stal­la­ti­ons to the extent that he is con­fron­ted wi­th the ar­tist’s per­so­nal re­collec­tions as well as wi­th collec­tive me­mo­ry land­scapes si­tua­ted bet­ween the fa­mi­li­ar, the lo­cal and the glo­bal. The suit­ca­se se­ries “Por­ta­ble Ci­ties” (2000-2012), for ex­amp­le, de­ri­ves from Yin’s tra­vels, du­ring which she collec­ted pie­ces of old clot­hing from the in­ha­bi­tants of the re­spec­tive ci­ty she was vi­sit­ing wi­th the in­tent of la­ter patching them up in­to an ur­ban land­scape that ta­kes the shape of a suit­ca­se, ori­en­ted on the map of each town. In this way she broa­ches the the­me of her own ex­pe­ri­en­ces in a glo­ba­li­sed world whe­re the idea of “ho­me” has to be re­thought. Fo­cus is mo­re­over pla­ced on fur­ther ques­ti­ons con­cerning the con­struc­tion of his­to­ry and me­mo­ry as well as on in­di­vi­du­al li­fe in ever­y­day big-ci­ty li­fe.

De­s­pi­te their poe­tic for­mal voca­bu­la­ry, her pie­ces can al­so be read as cri­ti­cal com­men­ta­ries sc­ru­ti­ni­sing the de­s­i­res and fe­ars of the in­di­vi­du­al in a glo­bal world that is ori­en­ted on mo­bi­li­ty and ef­fi­ci­en­cy. Es­pe­ci­al­ly in Asia, ci­ties are ra­pidly growing in­to enor­mous si­zes. One speaks in the most po­pu­la­ted coun­try in the world of high-speed ur­ba­ni­sa­ti­on, and Pe­king now has over 16 mil­li­on in­ha­bi­tants. Yin not least re­fe­ren­ces Chi­na’s si­gni­fi­cant ro­le as a do­mi­nant tex­ti­le pro­du­cer for the world mar­ket and hence the as­so­cia­ted wor­king con­di­ti­ons in the tex­ti­le in­dus­try when she re­du­ces tech­no­lo­gi­cal me­ga­lo­ma­nia and its mass pro­duc­tion to ab­sur­di­ty by me­ans of in­di­vi­du­al ma­nual la­bour in enor­mous tex­ti­le in­stal­la­ti­ons.

YIN Xi­uzhen’s works ha­ve al­re­a­dy attrac­ted much at­ten­ti­on at the 2007 Ve­nice Bi­en­na­le and at the pro­ject space of the Mu­se­um of Mo­dern Art, New York, in 2010.

Tags: Ma Han, Yin Xiuzhen