Yin Xiuzhen : Divulging Memory and Cultural Identity Through Art 


A female figure that is famous and leads the Chinese contemporary art scene, Yin XiuZhen (Born. 1963, Beijing, China) graduated in 1989 from Capital Normal University in Beijing. She began her career in the early 1990s with her degree Bachelor of Art in oil painting from the Fine Arts Department. Various international exhibitions invited Yin Xiuzhen to show her artworks. She is now working and living with her husband (Song Dong) that she met during university studies. Additionally, Yin XiuZhen is known as Chinese sculpture and installation artist. She uses her artwork to explore modern issues of globalization and homogenization. Yin utilizes recycled materials to show the connection between memory and cultural identity.

The artist (Yin,1995,Par 2) explains, “In a rapidly changing China, ‘memory’ seems to vanish more quickly than everything else. That’s why preserving memory has become an alternative way of life.” wanted to say that China will change rapidly compared to the other country. That is why Yin XiuZhen wanted to draw memory with her talent which is art. Likewise, Yin uses this idea as a tool to criticize social, political, and environmental constructs that surround her. The changing of environment which surrounds her inspires her to create art that include memory, the past, the present, and the complex relations between the environment and each and every individual. Through her collection there are parallels between the meaning behind the art and the material she uses. Recycling material will bring up past memories as she wants her art to describe past, present, and future.

Academic anxiety?
Get original paper in 3 hours and nail the task
Get your paper price

124 experts online

Portable City

Yin XiuZhen is well known for her Portable City art. She shaped the cloth into building form and put it inside suitcases. This piece of sculpture was created from used cloth that she collected in different states and cities. In addition, She has already built more than 40 portable city artworks in various cities all around the world. Components inside this piece of art are suitcase, clothes, magnifying glass, map and sound. In particular time when people are apart from home, this project interest people a thought of “living out of one’s suitcase” and during travel time, we actually loss of our local culture and identity. Through this artwork she express her past memories and cultural identity with the present. Her most famous suitcase is Portable City: Hangzhou, 2011 (28cm x 152cm x 88cm) in size. “I place emphasis on difference, but no matter how I emphasize it, it is always covered over sameness.” (Yin,2005) said that suitcase is the most popular medium during that period. In Hangzhou, a popular place to visit is Westlake.

It is authentic because of the oldest temple standing there and surrounded with beautiful hills. In fact, Yin XiuZhen portrays Westlake inside her art to show how beautiful Hangzhou is. Other features besides medium, she puts colour to express her feelings. The colour combines dark and light blue with a bit of green due to describe that most of the land in her art was filled with water. It is also stated that “This color is one of trust, responsibility, honesty and loyalty. It is sincere, reserved and quiet, and doesn’t like to make a fuss or draw attention. It hates confrontation, and likes to do things in its own way.” (empowered,2018) regarding the meaning of color blue. Her art connects with the art shown in Fashion Terrorism (2004). A little of white to color the temple is a technique to describe pure and completion. The color white contains an equal balance of all the colors of the spectrum. It represents equivalent amount in positive and negative aspects of all colors. This is the reason why people would say that white will bring peace and pureness. The growth of globalization itself is not parallel with the globalization we expected. We expect that the upcoming years will be better for living, but nowadays our nature is being torn apart because of human actions. That is why the suitcase artworks connect our past memory to our cultural identities and warn us to not harm and protect our beautiful world.

Fashion Terrorism

The presence of crime has lead to the loss of trust between people. Although terrorism is very complex and we were forced to face through it. The clash between competing human interests have led to a crisis of trust. This lead terrorism action even more often. Yin XiuZhen uses her Fashion Terrorism (2004-2005) artwork to define global problems such as trust and security. Fashion Terrorism is a series artwork that look similar with Portable City. She constructed weapons and objects that are forbidden on a plane by using clothes and packed them in a suitcase. Her first series artwork consist of guns, knives, aerosols, grenades, and other stuff created by used clothes. She took this suitcase through airport security and stopped by the security guard. They asked her to open the bag, but when they touch the item it were all soft. All the security were laughing and the terror was dispelled. Yin XiuZhen display this artwork in Beijing Capital International Airport with certain consideration as well. Knowing that airport security are one of the most strict security guards among other public places. Humans are actually stripping naked in front of the scanning machine. From this case, we know that counting on someone is not easy.It is not easy to eliminate the crisis of trust in reality. Perhaps, through time hopefully global problems can be solved.


In 2019 Venice Art Biennale, Yin Xiuzhen built a large sculpture of a woman sitting in giant airplane seat. This exhibition come out with title “ May You Live In Interesting Time” wanted to draw attention to conceal things and fulfil their goal. As usual, typical of Yin Xiuzhen’s artworks, she uses second hand clothes to declare vanished voices in the age of homogenization and globalization. The art “Trojan”, want to point out that technology is always a threat to individuals in society. Airplane seat is connected with trojan because when we considered terrorist attack on plane is parallel with Trojan attack on Greek. The Greek itself similar to innocent visitors on the aircraft. They know nothing about their surroundings and were not prepared for any emergency situation.

Trojan and technology are having the same function to influence and create a big impact to the public. Yin Xiuzhen uses a soft material in the exterior and uses strong and powerful materials such as concretes and metals in central. This is similar to the Trojan war. Troy gift trojan horse to greek as a gift and we see that it is very nice of him, but inside it is actually an anger that will reveal Troy’s feeling. He put troops inside the trojan horse to attack Greek during the night time. Going back to Yin’s artwork, the women she describes is wearing a white shirt which means peace and pureness. We could spot a small part that the woman is actually holding a brownish colour which best define the loyal, trustworthy and dependable in a practical and realistic way. These days, humans are depends with technology, but in the upcoming years technology will dominate human and we can not live without it. An example in industry, humans are now replaceable with the present of machine. They are more accurate and precise, which create a maximum and optimize production. These are also the reason Yin Xiuzhen use gray colour as the seat of the aircraft. Gray colour is very dominant in her artwork which describe neutral and stable. We think that relying on technology is a great thing and benefit us a lot. In fact, it impact badly to our personality. Through social media we could say that we were happy, but actually we are not. Describing lies will destroy personal identity and becoming parasite in society.

Ruined City

After finishing her university studies, she created ruined city artwork in 1996. The art itself was inspired by Tragedy in Tiananmen Square back in 1989. Through this artwork she express citizens poignant feeling when the government neglect their voice. Ordinarily, Yin Xiuzhen used second hand material that she collected and borrowed from her friends and family. She found some of the materials during the demolition rubble in Beijing and some on the streets. One of her schoolmates got his father to lend her several tons of cement powder. Other features that inspired her to create this art is based on her own daily experience.

There was a time when she rides her bike to work in the morning, and she saw the old house was still standing upright, but on the way back in the afternoon, the house was gone. The old house was knocked down, old memories were erased, and culture were torn away. The peaceful ex-neighbours was destroyed by this illogical modernization. It was like a big family, though there were conflict. The neighbours had an energy to cool down these conflicts, but the power of profit could wiped all of this. Lots of people were forced, while others were welcomed for the change. The short sightedness from the powerful government could withdraw civilian wishes.

This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

Need a custom essay sample written specially to meet your requirements?

Choose skilled expert on your subject and get original paper with free plagiarism report

Order custom paper Without paying upfront

Yin Xiuzhen : Divulging Memory and Cultural Identity Through Art . (2022, Jul 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/yin-xiuzhen-divulging-memory-and-cultural-identity-through-art/