Memory as a voice of opposition Yin Xiuzhen is most famous for her installations that are made of second-hand clothes. These installations can be regarded as a reflection on the mega-makeover that cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are currently undergoing. In her work, she combines individual experience with these enormous societal changes. ‘In this rapidly changing China it seems as if, of all items, memories are the things that are vanishing most quickly. Storing memories is a kind of voice of opposition’, according to Yin. About her favourite material, Yin comments: ‘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.’

Personal work In 1995, Yin Xiuzhen created her most personal work, Dress Box, for which she collected her own childhood clothes in an old clothes chest. She then cast cement in the chest, forever petrifying her precious memories. This action was a new beginning for her. It also occurred at the time that Beijing started out on its huge and radical transformation. Traditional quarters of the city, the so-called ‘hutongs’, were demolished to make way for high-rise blocks. In a very short time, whole areas of the city were littered with ruins. Yin: ‘I had exhibitions abroad and was on the road much of the time. At airports I saw the luggage that all those 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 (2002-2003), consisting of opened suitcases that reveal mini-cities made of textile. Shanghai (2002), New York (2005), Berlin (2006) and Melbourne (2009) are works that she made for this presentation. This year, the city of Groningen will be added to this series.

(Quoted text from Groningen Museum )

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Photos by Leee in Groningen’ museum