Ecology, nostalgia, travel, and mutual trust and understanding. The subject matter that the artist Yin Xiuzhen has chosen for her work is realized with an imaginative flourish that is at once welcoming, engaging, personal, and universal.
Resting on the floor in her exhibition on view in Chelsea are several used suitcases opened to flaunt detailed models of cities made from old clothes and other found materials.
“When I began this series, I was constantly traveling. I saw the baggage conveyor at the baggage claim every time I traveled. Many people waited there. I was one of them. Since I always traveled with a huge suitcase, it felt like I was traveling with my home.” Yin Xiuzhen
Since they are made from used used suitcases and worn-out clothes and the models inside them are constructed from experiences rather than strict cartography, the suitcases are considered portraits. The series is called Portable Cities. As described on the gallery’s website, ‘Portable Cities: Vancouver, 2003 constructs a visual and audio portrait of the city from used clothes, a city map, and audio equipment. ‘
Also on view are photographs depicting actions that the artist has created in various sites throughout China. One work, called Washing the River is a set of 4 photographs of a piece created by freezing ten cubic meters of the Lhasa River, which is heavily polluted. People walking by were invited to pick up brushes and scrub the blocks clean, participating in a symbolic environmental act.
The question of how life and art are connected is answered in a very real way through Yin Xiuzhen’s work. If you have a chance to see the work in person, think about what other ways her life overlaps with her art.
You also have a chance to physically interact with her work Collective Subconscious. It is currently on view in Projects 92 at the Museum of Modern Art until May 24 and viewers can enter the space and sit to have a relaxing conversation with their fellow museum-goer.
Works: 1994 – 2008
Chambers Fine Art – 522 West 19th Street
until March 20, 2010