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4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
2016.01.16 Sat - 2016.02.27 Sat
Opening Exhibition
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art 181 – 187 Hay Street Haymarket, Sydney NSW 2000
+61 2 9212 0380
Opening Hours
11AM – 6PM Tuesday – Saturday
Closed on public holidays

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Chen Qiulin: One Hundred Names
[Press Release]

One Hundred Names is the first Australian solo exhibition by Chinese artist Chen Qiulin. Chen belongs to a generation of Chinese artists whose work articulates the social repercussions of China’s ongoing process of political and economic reform. Her work explores the many contradictions inherent within the conditions that frame contemporary life in a country where myriad tensions and conflicts between tradition, progress and appearances are constantly tested. Raised in Wanzhou City, located in the municipality of Chongqing in western China, Chen’s home city was partially submerged by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River since 2001 and her work responds to this lived experience of natural and urban landscapes in flux.
4A’s exhibition includes a survey of the artist’s practice from the last ten years. Included are key works such as The Garden (2007) and Farewell Poem (2007), which through performance explore and document the physical and psychological upheaval caused by the comprehensive expansion of the city and the construction of the dam, which forced more than one million people from their ancestral homes. Also exhibited are new works such as City Manager (2015), a single-channel video which focuses on three archetypal figures and their role in the urban expansion and development of a new kind of architecture and class system within China. Playful and irreverent, City Manager speaks to immense influence of a small group of people in shaping the physical and social landscapes of contemporary China.
Commissioned especially for 4A is One Hundred Names for Kwong Wah Chong (2015), the latest iteration of Chen Qiulin’s ongoing One Hundred Surnames in Tofu(2004 – ) project that presents the one hundred most common Chinese family names carved from tofu, slowly decaying over a period of weeks or months. For Chen, tofu is not only one of China’s oldest and most commonly used ingredients but also an apt artistic medium that symbolises the material transformation through intensive labour. One Hundred Names for Kwong Wah Chong has been produced to commemorate Sydney’s iconic Haymarket district and, in particular, Sydney’s first Chinese-owned and operated shopfront business, Kwong Wah Chong, whose location at 84 Dixon Street which was an economic and social cornerstone for the Chinese community in the early decades of the twentieth-century.
As one of China’s foremost artists, Chen Qiulin represents a new voice in contemporary Chinese art which is at once highly personal and universal, speaking to broader politics of migration and identification. One Hundred Names presents a dynamic platform across an exhibition, performance and public programs that showcases the conceptually and technically diverse practice of Chen Qiulin that articulates past experiences and future potentials of social and urban landscapes of our region.