“Women Envisioning Women in Contemporary China: Subjectivity, Objectification, and the Problem of Authenticity in Art”
November 8 | 6:30 p.m. | Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 314 S Park St, Kalamazoo
Images of beautiful women have historically been a significant subgenre of Chinese painting, but most of the painters were male, constructing idealized female figures from a distinctly gendered perspective. In contemporary China, women artists such as Cui Xiuwen (b. 1970) have used their work to explore women’s subjectivity and women’s objectification. This paper will focus on Cui’s Ladies’ Room (2000), a surreptitiously shot video focusing on sex workers in a Beijing nightclub’s restroom. This work considers women in terms of gendered spaces and gendered gazes and presents a telling contrast with premodern, male-authored paintings. Rather than idealizing her subjects, Cui Xiuwen uses her hidden camcorder to explore the dichotomy between public and private and to raise questions about representation, voyeurism and authenticity.
Lara C. W. Blanchard received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2001 and has taught since then at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, where she is the Luce Professor of East Asian Art. Her recent publications include Song Dynasty Figures of Longing and Desire: Gender and Interiority in Chinese Painting and Poetry (2018) and the co-authored textbook Asian Art (2015). She is currently researching conceptions of women’s authorship in an early nineteenth-century history of women painters in imperial China, itself compiled by a female author.