Framing a new look at womanhood

Updated: Jun 8, 2023 By Xu Haoyu China Daily Print
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Polka Dot-white and Polka Dot-black are jointly created by Cai Yaling and her mother with their hair. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A new artistic hub, Empty Space, has been established in the Wudaoying Hutong of Beijing. Its inaugural exhibition features works from six female artists, which serve as a powerful reflection of the deep exploration and expression undertaken by them in their quest for understanding and self-awakening.

After six months of planning, the exhibition The World of XX, in which "XX" refers to the female sex chromosome, successfully builds a dialogue about artists' personal experiences, self-observation, inner thoughts, vulnerabilities and courage.

The exploration and expression of the female self, body and psychological experience has been a constant pursuit for Cai Yaling. The artworks, Polka Dot-white and Polka Dotblack, were created together with her mother.

In Polka Dot-white, she sewed strands of her mother's hair onto a black cloth in the form of polka dots. Conversely, her mother, using Cai's naturally shed black hair, created another artwork in a slightly folkloric style. Although both artworks adopt the polka dot form, they evoke entirely different feelings when presented.

From a distance, these two pieces may appear as mere fabric, but upon closer inspection, one can sense the emotional exchange between two generations.

"In that period of time, I reacquainted myself with my mother's imperfections from the perspective of an independent woman, and I realized how deeply she had influenced me," says Cai. "Hair became the observer, and the process of communication between my mother and me became the true artwork."

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