The discourse of Women’s Art in 1990s China : context, motivation, and interpretation
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This research examines the discourse of Women’s Art (Nüxing yishu) in 1990s China. I stress the critics’ and curators’ role in naming, defining, and interpreting female artists’ works as Women’s Art. What was the relationship between female art production and the critics’ understanding of those works as Women's Art? I found that Women’s Art pointed to the incorporation of craft and representations of women or women’s minds. I argued that male artists of this period also applied domestic materials to their art and represented men in them. I intend to unpack the motivations of each critic within the history of Women's Art. Critics Xu Hong and Liao Wen developed this discourse to achieve visibility for women artists while attempting to make contemporary Chinese art history comparable to developed Western countries. I also analyzed the critical conversations of four female Chinese artists’ works: Yu Hong’s Portrait series, Liu Hong’s Soliloquy No. 1, No. 3, and No. 4, Lin Tianmiao’s The Proliferation of Thread Winding, and Cai Jin’s Banana Plant No. 58. Content and style were closely related to their interpretations. The subsequent exhibitions featured their works, and the critics’ discussions of these works were not limited to Women’s Art. Lin’s and Cai’s works do not include female bodies, and therefore, their critical interpretations have been limited to the discourse of Women’s Art. These two artists did not particularly favor this label, and their tactics were to redefine the meanings of Women’s Art. In sum, my goal is to expose the complex dynamics between female art production and the discourse of Women’s Art in 1990s China.