From 17 June to 18 September 2012, the Groninger Museum will present the first large-scale solo exhibition of the work of Yin Xiuzhen. Yin Xiuzhen (1963) is one of the most prominent artists of her generation. Especially for this exhibition, Yin is currently working on the cityscape of Groningen, which is composed of clothes worn by citizens of Groningen.
In addition to recent work, the presentation also contains key works such as Collective Subconscious (2007), Thought (2009) and Waves (2009-2010). The Weapon installation (2003-2007) will also be on display. This consists of twenty horizontally suspended spear-shaped objects that seem to fly as darts toward their target. This installation was purchased in 2008 and was exhibited during the Biennial in Venice in 2007.
Memory as a voice of opposition
Yin Xiuzhen is most famous for her installations that are made of second-hand clothes. These installations can be regarded as a reflection on the mega-makeover that cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are currently undergoing. In her work, she combines individual experience with these enormous societal changes. ‘In this rapidly changing China it seems as if, of all items, memories are the things that are vanishing most quickly. Storing memories is a kind of voice of opposition’, according to Yin. About her favourite material, Yin comments: ‘Clothes say a lot about a person. At a single glance they recount how big a person is, his or her age, style, gender and income. But they also narrate invisible information such as the memory of a certain period when the piece was worn, and the reason why it was kept.’
In 1995, Yin Xiuzhen created her most personal work, Dress Box, for which she collected her own childhood clothes in an old clothes chest. She then cast cement in the chest, forever petrifying her precious memories. This action was a new beginning for her. It also occurred at the time that Beijing started out on its huge and radical transformation. Traditional quarters of the city, the so-called ‘hutongs’, were demolished to make way for high-rise blocks. In a very short time, whole areas of the city were littered with ruins. Yin: ‘I had exhibitions abroad and was on the road much of the time. At airports I saw the luggage that all those people from all over the world were carrying, and I imagined that these suitcases represented their homes in a certain way.’ On the basis of these deliberations, Yin created the series Portable Cities (2002-2003), consisting of opened suitcases that reveal mini-cities made of textile. Shanghai (2002), New York (2005), Berlin (2006) and Melbourne (2009) are works that she made for this presentation. This year, the city of Groningen will be added to this series.
The work of Yin Xiuzhen was first shown in the Groninger Museum during the exhibition entitled New World Order in 2008. Her work has been displayed in countless exhibitions in and outside China.
The Yin Xiuzhen exhibition has been compiled by head curator Mark Wilson and the curator of present-day visual art, design and fashion Sue-an van der Zijpp.
A catalogue will be published to accompany this exhibition. Curators Mark Wilson and Sue-an van der Zijpp have both written an essay for this book.
Note for the editor
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Opening hours of the Groninger Museum
Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 17.00. Closed on Mondays. Open on Easter Monday.
Collective Subconscious, Unbearable Warmth, Thought, Bookshelf no. 1Images: Yin Xiuzhen (.ZIP)