Solo exhibition of Yi Zhang | Curated by Yan Chao
Fall off is Yi Zhang’s first solo exhibition in the UK. The exhibition will debut Zhang’s most recent artworks related to her working experience at a wig factory, including video, and installation. This exhibition will take inspiration from her interest in social and working relationships that are under high-commerce-concentrated global pressure, and friendship among female workers in a factory that is seeking efficiency and speed. Fall off will unfold in scenes designed to place visitors into the rural factories that drive urban development.
For this project, Yi Zhang went to Xuchang for a month. Although Xuchang is a small village in Henan Province. It is in fact the world’s largest wig manufacturer. At the factory where Yi worked, the hair, as a supply, comes from India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. It undergoes acid treatment and high-temperature processing. The processed hair is sent to North Korea for hand-weaving and then sent back to China for secondary processing. Dark-skin models are hired to take promotional pictures, and they find influencers from the black community to market the products. These products are packaged to represent entirely different cultures and are sold in the United States and Europe.
Yi Zhang’s works revolve around the relationships between female factory workers in rural China. All these women are married. As their husbands work in big cities, these women stay in the town to work and take care of their children and elders. They call each other ‘sisters,’ and continuously play romantic dramas during work for spiritual relaxation. As the audience engages with the artworks in Fall off, they will be invited to explore the journey of hair manufacturing.
Fall off indicates hair, and hair holds significant cultural importance in Chinese culture. In traditional Chinese culture, our hair, skin and body are given by our parents. Therefore, hair connects people to their own lineage and ancestors. At the heart of Fall off, lies Zhang’s understanding and commitment between women to women. This vision is realised through Zhang’s artistic and romantic expression, just as both women and hair are flexible and powerful at the same time.
About Yi Zhang
Yi Zhang (b. 1996, China) is a visual artist currently living in the Netherlands and Belgium. Zhang’s work often takes the form of installations or performances, using simple materials and everyday objects to create a sense of familiarity and comfort.
Zhang is drawn to the gaps in different situations, those moments where something is left unspoken or unacknowledged. she seeks to make these invisible parts visible, creating soft gestures and intimate situations as a verbless language to communicate and connect.
About Yan Chao
Yan Chao is a current PhD student at the Centre for China Visual Arts, Birmingham City University. Her research focus on contemporary Chinese art, the art market of China, and the global image of China since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yan’s interdisciplinary approach to contemporary art and pop culture offers an alternative perspective on China in digital era. She presented “Insiders out and Outsiders in: the Vicissitudes of National Image of China in Domestic and International Art Fairs” at the 15th Annual Conference of Centre of Chinese Visual Art in Birmingham UK. Her study of ‘Bitterness’ and ‘Nationalism’ in Moving Images in China was presented at Harvard East Asia Society Conference in 2019. Her the Websites and Online Communities of Chinese Contemporary Art Museums, presented at Museum 2050 Symposium at Long Museum in Shanghai, analyses the media shift of contemporary museums in China.