Artists Historians Curators

Brief Introduction

Yin Xiuzhen and Her Sculptures Yin Xiuzhen and Her Sculptures

Yin Xiuzhen and Her Sculptures

Born in 1963 in Beijing, Yin Xiuzhen is one of the leading figures in Chinese contemporary art, and an avant-garde installation artist, mirroring the environment around her, currently she lives and works in Beijing. She began showing her work in the late 1980s, around the time she graduated from the Department of Oil Painting, Beijing Capital Normal University with a B.A. degree. Her work has been shown extensively in various international exhibitions since then. Best known for her artworks that incorporate second-hand objects, Yin uses her works to explore modern issues of globalization and homogenization.

Since the mid 1990s Yin Xiuzhen has created artwork in response to the massive destruction and reconstruction in Beijing. Through various types of intervention, Yin Xiuzhen seeks to personalize objects and to allude to the lives of people affected by sudden social, physical and cultural change. Memory, the past and the present, external appearances and internal responses are strong themes in her works. The outdoor project Washing the River (1985) was a particularly important step for her. In this work, part of a project in Chengdu, she made a lump of ice by freezing water from a polluted river and then washed it with clean water. Writing about this work, the critic Li Xianting has suggested that this created an occasion for her to learn to create an artistic language through an interest in her own living environment. In Dress Box of 1995 she expressed her interest in working on a larger scale by using materials with personal associations. Speaking about her work that contained memories of her own life, she said, “Hard things and soft things, coldness and hotness, reason and feeling, the combinations of these antithetical things create ineffable feelings”. Yin Xiuzhen gathered old clothes donated by people living in the outskirts of Beijing. She washed the clothes and hung them to dry in a discarded pagoda. The wet clothes dripped onto mounds of plaster of Paris which absorbed the water to form cement. The community supported the artist´s recycling statement. For Beijing 1999, she used ceramic roof tiles rescued from the domestic demolition sites, coupled with photographs of ordinary people. As a symbol of “Old Peking”, it was used to cap the roofs of traditional, single-storey courtyard-houses (siheyuan) in which the majority of the local population once lived. In recent years, entire inner-city neighborhoods have been bulldozed to make way for new multi-level office buildings and the residents moved to high-rise accommodation in suburbs outside the city. In Cemented Shoes (1995), one sees the artist´s concern with her living environment and society very clearly. In Cemented Shoes, twenty-five pairs of shoes, once worn by men and women of all ages, hardened by cement, are hung in a row by hemp rope from the ceiling. There are many kinds of shoes, from the cloth Chinese shoes, now seldom seen, that were popular in the sixties and seventies to the most recent fashionable shoes. By looking at these shoes alone, one can get an interesting glimpse of the changes in Chinese society over the last few decades.

Yin Xiuzhen, "Thought", 2009. Clothes and steel, 340 cm x 510 cm x 370 cm. Copyright Yin Xiuzhen Yin Xiuzhen, "Thought", 2009. Clothes and steel, 340 cm x 510 cm x 370 cm. Copyright Yin Xiuzhen

Yin Xiuzhen, "Thought", 2009. Clothes and steel, 340 cm x 510 cm x 370 cm. Copyright Yin Xiuzhen

Yin said, “I had exhibitions abroad and was on the road much of the time. At airports I saw the luggage that all the people from all over the world were carrying, and I imagined that these suitcases represented their homes in a certain way.” On the basis of these deliberations, Yin created the series Portable Cities (2002-2012), consisting of opened suitcases that reveal mini-cities made of textile. They were on display in Shanghai (2002), New York(2005), Berlin(2006), Melbourne(2009), and Groningen and Düsseldorf (2012, her biggest solo exhibit in Europe), etc. She is still an active artist, recent works include Collective Subconscious (2007), Engine (2008), Weapon (2003-2007), and Thought (2009).

About her favorite materials, Yin said: “Clothes say a lot about a person. At a single glance they recount how big a person is, his or her age, style, gender and income. But they also narrate invisible information such as the memory of a certain period when the piece was worn, and the reason why it was kept.” Feminine her works are, but different from the feminist in the general sense, Yin Xiuzhen is gentle rather than having a sharp confrontational attitude, she indirectly cares for society. She conveys a sense of change, which is based on personal history, touching society through her will and spiritual feelings for a private life.

"Projects 92" by Yin Xiuzhen at The Museum of Modern Art on February 23, 2010 in New York City. "Projects 92" by Yin Xiuzhen at The Museum of Modern Art on February 23, 2010 in New York City.

"Projects 92" by Yin Xiuzhen at The Museum of Modern Art on February 23, 2010 in New York City.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2012 Yin Xiuzhen, Groninger Museum, Groningen, Netherlands

2012 Yin Xiuzhen, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany

2011 One Sentence, ALEXANDER OCHS GALLERIES BERLIN | BEIJING, Berlin, Germany

2011 The Way of Chopsticks II - Song Dong + Yin Xiuzhen, Chambers Fine Arts, New York, USA

2010 Second Skin, Pace Beijing, China

2010 Projects 92: Yin Xiuzhen, (Elaine Dannheisser Project Series) The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

2009 Yin Xiuzhen, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney, Australia

2008 COMMUNE, Galerie WELTECHO, Chemnitz, Germany

2007 52 La Biennale di Venezia, Pavilion of the PR China, (together with Shen Yuan, Kan Xuan, Cao Fei), Curator: Hou Hanru, Italy

2007 “Yin XiuZhen at Beijing Commune”, Beijing Commune, Beijing, China

2006 Yin Xiuzhen and Song Dong: Restroom M / Restroom W, Gallery at Redcat, Los Angeles, USA

2006 International Airport Terminal 1, ALEXANDER OCHS GALLERIES BERLIN | BEIJING, Berlin, Germany

2003 Present | Future, Artissima Turin, ALEXANDER OCHS GALLERIES BERLIN | BEIJING (former PRÜSS & OCHS), Berlin, Germany

2002 “Chopsticks: Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen”, videos, installations and event, Chambers Fine Art, New York, USA

2002 “Yin Xiuzhen - Beijing Opera”, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney, Australia

2001 “Suitcases”, Alexander Ochs Gallery, Berlin, Germany

2000 “Building Materials”, 200 Gertrude Front Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

1998 “Brain - Exhibition of Installations”, Manchester Craft Centre, Manchester, UK

1998 “Dining Table - Exhibition of Installations”, Ruine for Arts, Berlin, Germany

1998 “Sun Clothes”, Hua Yan Li, Beijing, China

1996 “Ruined City", Capital Normal University Museum, Beijing, China

1995 “Yin Xiuzhen’s Installations and Multimedia”, Contemporary Art Museum, Beijing, China

Yin Xiuzhen and Her "Heteroptic Cavity"( 2009) Yin Xiuzhen and Her "Heteroptic Cavity"( 2009)

Yin Xiuzhen and Her "Heteroptic Cavity"( 2009)

Selected Group Exhibitions

2012 “CAR CULTURE”, Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, Austria

2012 “STRUGGLE(S)”, Maison Particulière Art Center, Brussels, Belgium

2011 “Yokohama Triennale 2011”, Yokohama Triennial, Japan

2011 “Medi(t)ation - Asian Art Biennial”, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan, China

2011 “Our Magic Hour”, Yokohama International Triennial of Contemporary Art, Japan

2011 “Car Culture”, ZKM – Zentrum für Kunst und Medien, Karlsruhe, Germany

2011 “Trans/Formations: THE CITY, SPACES AND TIMES”, Alhondiga Bilbao, Spain

2010 “Beijing Time | La hora de China”, Casa Asia, Madrid, Spain

2010 “Dreamlands”, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

2010 “11th Fellbach Triennial”, Stadt Fellbach - Kulturamt, Germany

2010 “BALMORAL BLEND - 15 Jahre Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral”, Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen, Germany

2009 “Sit In China”, Museum für Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt, Germany

2009 “Strange World”, Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery, Blackburn, UK

2009 “The Big World. Recent Art from China”, Hall and Yates Gallery, Chicago, USA

2009 “Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection”, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, USA

2008 “Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection”, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, USA

2008 “7th Shanghai Biennale”, Curators: Julian Heynen and Henk Slager, Shanghai, China

2008 “Under The Sky”, WHITE SPACE BEIJING, Beijing, China

2008 “Die Wahren Orte”, ALEXANDER OCHS GALLERIES BERLIN | BEIJING, Beijing, Germany

2008 “ALL-INCLUSIVE - A TOURIST WORLD”, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany

Yin Xiuzhen, "Weapons", 2007 (detail). Installation view Anna Schwartz Gallery Yin Xiuzhen, "Weapons", 2007 (detail). Installation view Anna Schwartz Gallery

Yin Xiuzhen, "Weapons", 2007 (detail). Installation view Anna Schwartz Gallery

2007 “52nd Venice Biennale-China Pavilion”, Venice, Italy

2007 “CHINA-FACING REALITY”, MuMok, Wien, Germany

2007 “CHINA NOW, Works from the Essl Collection”, CoBrA Museum, Amstelveen, Netherlands

2007 “GLOBAL FEMINISMS”, Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA

2006 “Mahjong – Chinesische Gegenwartskunst aus der Sammlung Sigg”, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Germany

2006 “China – Between Past and Future“, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany

2006 “Festival of Love: Video Art Series”, Asia Society, New York, USA

2006 “Between Past and Future”, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK

2006 “News Political Visual Aesthetics the 2nd Realism”, Beijing Commune, Beijing, China

2005 “Follow Me: Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition”, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

2005 “Between Past and Future“, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA

2005 “Between Past and Future“, Smart Museum, Chicago, USA

2005 “Convergence at E116°/ N40°”, Platform China, Beijing, China

2005 “Convergence at E116°/ N40°”, 798 Dayaolu Space, Beijing, China

2005 “Between Past and Future“, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK

2005 “China: Crossroads of Culture / Follow Me!”, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

2005 “A Strange Heaven“, Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland

2005 “Mahjong - Chinesische Gegenwartskunst”, Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, Switzerland

2005 “Between Past and Future”, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, USA

2004 “Sydney Biennale”, New South Wales Art Gallery, Australia

2004 “The Logbook”, Long March Foundation, Beijing, China

2004 “Left Wing”, Left Bank Community, Beijing, China

2004 “Biennale São Paulo 2004”, Biennale São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

2004 “A Real China Club Night”, Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin, Germany

2004 “Between Past and Future”, International Center of Photography, New York, USA

2003 “A Strange Heaven”, Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech

2003 “How Latitudes Become Forms”, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy

2003 “Sars Times: Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen”, ISE Foundation, New York, USA

2003 “How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in Global Age”, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA

2003 “Time after Time: Asian a Moment”, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, USA

2003 “Home and Away: the New Globalism”, Vancouver Art Museum, Canada

2002 “Here and Now”, Büro Friedrich, Berlin, Germany

2002 “Chopsticks: Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen”, Chambers Fine Art, New York, USA

2002 “Chopsticks: Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen”, Chapman University, Los Angeles, USA

2002 “Making China”, Ethan Cohen Fine Art, New York, USA

2002 “The 2nd Fukuoka Triennial”, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan

2002 “Gwangju Biennial”, Gwangju, Korea

2002 “Site + Sight: Translating Cultures”, Asian Civilizations Museum, Earl Lu Gallery, Singapore, Singapore

2002 “Bumper Harvest: Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition”, Beijing Agriculture Museum, Beijing, China

2002 “Guangzhou Triennial”, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China

2001 “Installation and New Media, Asian Fine Arts”, Berlin Gallery, Berlin, Germany

2001 “1st Architecture Biennale”, China National Gallery, Beijing, China

2001 “Reinventing the Images and Signs”, Universal Classical Cultural Arts Co. Ltd., Beijing, China

2001 “Chronicles of Women: Illness as Metaphor”, Sha Tin Town Hall Concert Hall, Hong Kong, China

2001 “Le Paysage comme Babel”, Galerie Les Filles du calvaire, Paris, France

2001 “Living in Time”, Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany

Yin Xiuzhen, "Suitcases", 2000 Yin Xiuzhen, "Suitcases", 2000

Yin Xiuzhen, "Suitcases", 2000

2000 “Building Materials”, 200 Gertrude Front Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

2000 “Text and Subtext”, Earl Lu Gallery and Lasalle Gallery, Singapore, Singapore

2000 “Our Chinese Friends”, ACC Gallery and Bauhaus, Weimar, Germany

2000 “Fuori Uso 2000”, The Bridges, Pescara, Italy

2000 “Virtual and Real”, Wan Gung Art Gallery, Peking, China

2000 “Unusual and Usual: A Contemporary Art Exhibition”, Yuan Gong Modern Art Museum, Shanghai, China

1999 “The Third Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art”, Brisbane, Australia

1999 “Transience: Chinese Art at the End of 20th Century”, The Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, USA

1999 “In / Form China: Art + Architecture”, Asian Fine Arts Factory, Berlin, Germany

1998 “Half the Sky: Chinese Contemporary Women Artists Exhibition”, Bonn Women's Museum, Germany

1997 “ART / OMI Visual Arts Project”, ART / OMI Foundation, New York, China

1996 “Chinese Avant-garde Art Documentary”, Q Gallery, Japan

1994 “Open Your Mouth, Close Your Eyes: Beijing and Berlin Art Communication Exhibition”, Capital Normal University Museum, Beijing

Yin Xiuzhen "Bookshelf No. 1", 2009, Kleidung, Holz, Bücherregal Yin Xiuzhen "Bookshelf No. 1", 2009, Kleidung, Holz, Bücherregal

Yin Xiuzhen "Bookshelf No. 1", 2009, Kleidung, Holz, Bücherregal

Selected Awards

2000 UNESCO/ASCHBERG Bursary Laureate

2000 China Contemporary Art Award

1999 Scholarship Kuenstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral Bad Ems, Germany

1998 Visiting Arts South East Asian artists´ residency programme (visiting arts,London),UK.

1997 ART/OMI foundation New York, USA

Public Collections:  The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Annie Wong Art Foundation, Smart Museum, Groninger Museum, Mori Art Museum, Capital National University Museum, Beijing and COM-ART Museum, Korea.