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First major solo exhibition in Europe of Yin Xiuzhen's work opens at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf
Chinese artist Yin Xiuzhen poses next to her work "Bookshelves" on December 14, 2012 at the Kunsthalle museum in Duesseldorf, western Germany. From December 15, 2012 to March 10, 2013, the Kunst­hal­le Dues­sel­dorf, in col­la­bo­ra­ti­on wi­th the Gro­nin­ger Mu­se­um, is pre­sen­ting the first ma­jor so­lo ex­hi­bi­ti­on in Eu­ro­pe de­vo­ted to the work of Yin Xiuzhen. AFP PHOTO / CAROLINE SEIDEL.

DUSSELDORF.- 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.

The Kunsthalle Dusseldorf | Gro­nin­ger Mu­se­um | Yin Xiuzhen |

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