Sixteen Women in the Arts Who Changed All the Rules
16位具前瞻性的亞洲女士的個人故事，她們顛覆了文化及社會的既定期望，成為藝術範疇的領軍人物。… Continue reading
中文摘要：Creating Cross Cultures結集了16位具前瞻性的亞洲女士的個人故事，她們顛覆了文化及社會的既定期望，成為藝術範疇的領軍人物。出身於中國、香港、澳門和台灣的這群女性，各自在文學、視覺及表演藝術領域大放異彩，她們敢於離開安舒區，赴海外交流，實現理想抱負。她們的個人歷史讓人一窺這個區域跨越三代、規模更大的歷史軌跡，而她們的藝術作品亦深入探討當時的社會現實與挑戰。
I feel there is something unexplained about women that only a woman can explain.
These life stories, taking place against the backdrop of social and political change in East Asia, also provide a window onto the recent history of modern China, as well as developments of the present day. The women were born between the years of 1925 and 1979 in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, four places that together are known to Western readers as “Greater China.” They speak several different languages and dialects and their lives and creative work illustrate a striking cultural diversity despite the geographical proximity.
Women in the Arts
It would be reductive and misleading to categorize their artwork based on their places of origin, partly because some of them and their families have emigrated around the region and their cultural and educational influences have been multifold (Nieh Hualing moved from China to Taiwan to the United States; Candace Chong’s family moved from the mainland to Hong Kong; Wang Xinxin, at one time, relocated from the mainland to Taiwan).
For this reason, the artists are loosely grouped by genre, rather than geographic or cultural distinctions. The first part, “Women of Words,” includes writers (of novels, art criticism, art history, and drama); the second, “World of the Visual,” features artists across the realm, including installation and multimedia work, photography and filmmaking); “Sound and Stage,” is devoted to the performing arts, including music and theater performance; and the last part, “Language of Dance,” includes pioneers and performers of modern dance.
Yet these categories, too, are imprecise. Working in a wide array of visual, performing and written forms, these women make art that defies easy classification. For several decades, the boundaries separating arts disciplines have been fading, as artists experiment with new approaches that often mix genres, such as visual and performing arts, into work sometimes described as multimedia.
Like most artists around the world, the women featured here delve into issues that are at the nexus of intellectual discussion, politics, culture and societal change. Conceptual artist Yin Xiuzhen explores the impact of rapid urbanization, which severs human connections and desecrates the natural environment. Hong Kong playwright Candace Chong presents a nuanced view of social controversies in Hong Kong and examines the issues of freedom of expression in journalism and the arts.
Their bodies of work, while relevant to contemporary society, also reveal an unshakable reverence for traditional art and culture. Guqin musician Wu Na performs jazz and rock as well as ancient classics that date back almost 3,000 years. Contemporary composer Bun-ching Lam, who received her training in the United States, has created an opera based on the Han Dynasty heroine Cai Wenji.
‘For me, there is no boundary between traditional and experimental. Ancient art forms were performed. It is our responsibility to think about five hundred years in the future. We must leave something new for them to call “ancient”.’
All urban women, the artists share the common experience of having lived or spent time abroad. For some, the Asian Cultural Council fellowship supported their first trip to the United States. This privileged position as world travelers has afforded them an international perspective, which sets them apart from the majority of people at home. The artists’ transformative journeys have changed the way they view themselves and the world and ultimately their artistic practice. Their stories of self-discovery and growth are a testament to the great value of stepping outside one’s home culture and comfort zone to communicate beyond and across cultures.
Creating at the crossroads
In today’s interconnected world, cultural identities are increasingly hybrid, continually sculpted by the influences of rapid modernization and changing political realities. These artists have developed into unique individuals, sometimes in spite of social expectations imposed on women in their native societies. While their work is often inspired by events at home, they themselves represent alternative identities, mavericks who observe the world from the perspective of “outsiders.” Many live and work in the liminal space between cultures, national boundaries and even disciplines in the arts, “creating at the crossroads.”
Women artists of the Chinese diaspora in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, despite language barriers and gender barriers, have made previously unthinkable strides in getting their work shown and performed and anthologized at home and abroad. Yet their own life stories and the histories, influences and impact of their work have not yet been well documented, recognized and celebrated. This book, while far from comprehensive, is a humble attempt to begin to rectify the imbalance and bring them to light in English.
Their tales are as exhilarating as their art, shown and described herein, is brilliantly provocative.
Photos: Creating Across Cultures
Creating Across Cultures: Women in the Arts from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan
Edited by Michelle Vosper
Distributed for East Slope Publishing Ltd. (Muse, HK)