Feminine softness is more powerful than you think.

Author | Zhao Wanxi

Edit | Xiao Feng

Title map | "Full-time"

In the history of literature and art, women have always been closely related to "softness".

Flowers bloom at the beginning, harmonious and beautiful, which is "feminine"; Harmonious personality, harmonious family, is for "suppleness"; Strong and determined, strong and strong, it is "flexible" …

"Softness" has become a specific gesture and social feature of women. However, erasing all kinds of extensions and deduction attached to "softness" and returning to "softness" itself, what is softness?

Earlier than the famous "Spring" incident, in 1916, Duchamp bought an Underwood typewriter and gave it to someone, leaving the cover behind to make the work Traveler’s Folding Item (1916), which became the first "soft ready made" created by Duchamp.

Duchamp, The Traveler’s Fold, 1916.

It was not until the post-modernism movement in the 1960s that artists really began to get rid of the limitations of traditional art forms and began to explore new materials and expressions.

The choice of materials such as cloth, fur, rope, rubber, paper, leather, vinyl plastic and so on emphasizes natural forces (such as gravity and heat) and metaphorical meaning, and also becomes the carrier of themes such as body, family, gender and power.

Contemporary art constantly explores physical properties and soft artistic expression. Softness has become a retrospective and questioning of art history, and it has also changed new materials or combined with digital technology in order to diversify forms and make media experiments plastic.

Recently, curator Zhu Yujie and 15 contemporary artists jointly presented an art exhibition, which gave "Rou" another brand-new interpretation.

The name of the exhibition is "the soft one becomes a success", and "the soft one" is the soft thing; "Bearing" means bearing, supporting and inheriting.

Artists use painting, sculpture, installation, video, sound and other artistic forms to express their unique experience and thinking about "softness".

We came to the exhibition site, met several of the artists, and had a few conversations with them about the "soft people".

Soft amorphous

Lin Fanglu, an artist, brought her two works "She’s Landscape" and "She’s Deconstructive Painting", which are the inspiration output after working and living with many local women during her creative period in Yunnan.

Lin Fanglu, She is a landscape, 2022, cotton cloth, cotton thread, 230 x 300 x 60 cm.

"Although these local women have not received systematic art education, they have been insisting on artistic work. I think what they have made is a work of art.. Therefore, I hope to tell their stories. " Lin Fanglu said.

Ordinary cotton cloth and cotton thread are sewn and dyed by Bai people’s tie-dyeing technology for dozens of days or even months … A unique "sculpture" with attractive texture and ups and downs is presented.

Lin Fanglu was not satisfied with making a plane work, but used various flower-tying techniques she studied and learned in the village, combined with local culture, and made flexible materials three-dimensional, attracting the audience to reach out and touch.

Lin Fanglu, She’s Deconstructive Painting, 2021, cotton cloth, cotton thread, 65x90cm.

Breaking the traditional concept of ritual, artist Yin Xiuzhen created "Rite" with ceramics and old clothes, which made the audience return to the era of ritual music instantly.

Yin Xiuzhen, series of sacrificial vessels, 2015-2016, porcelain and old clothes, 36×25×27cm, 57×38×49.5cm, 77×38×47cm, 54×46×50cm and 44×38×40cm.

Yin Xiuzhen is a leading figure in China’s behavior and installation art since the early 1990s. In the process of making ceramics, she found some cracks in ceramics, so she skillfully developed these cracks into holes and cracks and stuffed old clothes fragments into them.

Clothes fragments inhabit people’s memory, spirit and temperament, and pass through cold and hard ceramic cracks, just like the bud of growth.

The visual density gives the Rite a different sense of breathing. People and ceramics seem to be integrated, resulting in a symbiotic relationship.

Opposite the Ritual, an open door is full of flowers. This is the work "Flowers in Every Door" by artist Ai Jing.

Ai Jing, Every Fan Has Flowers #2, 2012, antiques and flowers, 137 x 296 cm.

In the 1990s, Ai Jing used a song "My 1997" to spread all over the country. Now, she has been on the road of professional art for more than ten years.

She said: "Moving from music to visual arts is like opening a door, in which we may have all kinds of adventures and tests, tears and pains, loneliness and helplessness, but I firmly believe that we will eventually welcome our own flowers."

Tong Wenmin’s The Waves is the only performance art work in the exhibition "The Gentle Is the Success".

Tong Min, Waves, 2019, V-band video (color, audio)

After years of practice in performance art, Tong Wenmin often focuses on the intersection of the external world and individual perception, opening the mysterious world of the integration of man and nature and public space for the viewer.

She once put a mirror on her back and hung upside down in the pine forest for more than 20 minutes, thus creating Reflection-Pine Forest.

Tong Wenmin, Reflection-Pine Forest, 2017, Behavior, Chongqing, China, single-frequency video (color, audio), 5 minutes and 0 seconds.

She used to stick scotch tape on the village road she walked through, and then wrapped it back in the original road, wrapped it into a huge sphere, and created Local Records.

Tong Wenmin, Local Records, 2018, Behavior, Single-frequency video (color, audio) in Damoyu Village, Yunnan, China, 11’00 "

During her stay in Fukushima, Japan, she climbed a dense tree and lay quietly for more than two hours, and then "Zhi" was born …

Tong Wenmin, Zhi, 2018, Behavior, Fukushima, single-frequency video (color, audio), 53 minutes and 08 seconds.

Waves was her inspiration during her stay on an island in Malaysia.

"I have always been interested in peripheral movements. The waves are a kind of peripheral movement for me. The ocean accounts for 3/4 of the earth’s area, but what you can always see is the sea area in front of you. You can touch the sea, the waves can brush you, and even you can jump into a sea, but the waters you touch are always limited. The whole movement of the waves is related to the earth’s rotation, the energy of the whole universe and various gravitations, but you can only see a little tip and feel the invisible whole energy through the tip. "

When writing, she closed her eyes, completely relaxed and felt the movement of the waves wholeheartedly. "Sometimes I can’t hear any sound, but a wave suddenly hits me; Sometimes I hear a rumbling sound and think there will be a big wave. I wait for a long time, but nothing touches me at all. I am waiting for an unknown arrival, waiting for this external force, and then using my body to resolve it. "

At the exhibition site, Tong Wenmin was interviewed.

Two sides of women

This red crystal bead curtain is the work "LEAVE ME ALONE" created by artist Cai Yaling in 2019.

Cai Yaling, LEAVE ME ALONE, 2019, crystal beads and stainless steel wires, 200x90cm.

This sentence was heard by Cai Yaling from a female friend her age. In those few years, there were many articles on the Internet to guide women, such as "What kind of women are good to marry" and "How should women maintain themselves". "Her words just represent a voice of many women at the moment. We don’t need too much guidance and requirements. For us, it is more important to listen to our own voices and show our attitude." Cai Yaling thinks it is necessary to record this sentence.

She adopted the form of bead curtain. The red bead curtain looks like a banner from a distance, and the slogan of the banner represents a kind of guidance. On the other hand, the bead curtain looks very soft, seems to be constantly hesitating and floating, and is easy to be scattered and destroyed, but in fact, its own material is very hard. When it is not moved, it will be clearly solidified after the precipitation of time.

Through this work, Cai Yaling hopes to tell the audience who saw it to be loyal to their own hearts and get rid of those noises that should not be heard.

Her creation advances with a kind of ignorance and intuition. Using different materials often conveys different aspects of "softness".

In the work Goddess, which was not exhibited in this exhibition, Cai Yaling used the traditional pasta in her hometown of Shanxi, which was the most familiar material when she was a child, to shape the female body.

Cai Yaling, Goddess, 2022, Flour, Yeast, Preservative, Glass Plate, 120x55x6cm.

When studying figurative sculpture in the Central Academy of Fine Arts, the pursuit has always been the fullness of the body. The traditional method is to pat the mud up and then flatten it, and the pasta will naturally become full after fermentation, kneading and steaming.

"Once your yeast is not put right and the water is put less, it will become dry and wrinkled, showing yellow and black spots. I think these things are closely related to our identity. In my life, I have seen my own body, my mother’s body and my children’s body. These bodies will gradually show aging because of constant development, breastfeeding or work. So, I used this material to make some female bodies. "

In addition, pasta has another meaning. It can be eaten. "It’s a bit like many of us women. In our daily life, in our work, she gradually disappears."

Cai Yaling’s understanding of women’s "softness" in Shanxi is tenacious. "Her tears, her anger and her joy will not be expressed outside, but will go inside, through her heart and through her body."

Since childhood, she has seen the lives of many aunts, sisters and elders around her. "They seldom go to anger and abuse, but when they encounter something, they are often willing to take responsibility and do what they should do well. They are not eager to get any praise and rewards. They think that this should be done. This tenacity will make their hearts stronger and thicker, and gradually exercise an iron heart. "

Just like Shen Tao, the heroine in her favorite mountains may depart, "At the end of the movie, she danced alone in the flying snow in front of Wenfeng Tower, and decided to forget everything around her, forget the sufferings she had experienced in previous years (what others thought), and try to make herself a snowflake or a dust between heaven and earth. She accepts this fate. "

Figure/"mountains may depart"

"But when faced with injustice, she will turn into Qiaoqiao in Jianghu Children, stand up and show her chivalrous side." Cai Yaling said.

Figure/"Jianghu Children"

Different female artists use different materials and languages to honestly express their physical feelings as women, showing the relationship between women and space, women and power, and women and society.

There are not only female artists, but also many male artists at the exhibition site. Their works are soft, light, hard or huge, independent, interactive and intertwined, which endows "softness" with a richer interpretation and definition.

Flexibility can be said to have neither shape nor meaning. Those who are soft will succeed, and they will also succeed in this ever-changing "new".

Proofreading: Yang Chao Typesetting: Zhao Wanxi