The Chinese diaspora in the United Kingdom is fragmented and reflects a complicated history of dramatic transformations experienced in the past century. Today, a younger generation, which has inherited the complexity of its origins, has taken a different approach according to the new reality: in the post-internet world where everyone is ‘connected’, the concept of a separated, ethnicity-based community is questioned as a mode of living.
Hua Ren (华人) is a Chinese term describing overseas residents of Chinese descent, including those from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Neo Hua Ren is an exhibition that celebrates the openness and diversity of these overseas Chinese, it reflects the artists’ experience of living abroad and of how the Chinese diaspora is perceived in general.
Neo Hua Ren poses three questions: What does ethnic identity mean in a globalised world? Do the young diaspora still face adversity arising from the concept of ‘otherness’ and/or ‘Chineseness’? How has the internet and the ease of technology brought about unexpected social complications? The show aims to unfold a wider, more complex view on the contemporary life of Hua Ren.
Neo Hua Ren is independently organised by T, D and S in partnership with V/COLLECTIVE creative agency. It showcases works by London-based young artists from Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The exhibition is a platform to promote undiscovered perspectives on the Chinese diaspora and its influence in a globalised world.
Taking place in the Crypt of St Pancras Church, the show opens up a conversation between artists who share their aesthetic and conceptual opinions through a variety of mediums. The surroundings of an Anglican church in the very centre of London encapsulate the idea of immigration and the complicated relationship between the city, steeped in tradition, and its inhabitants.
The Crypt, a basement space, is structurally entangled and shaped like a maze. It embodies a non-linear construction of the post-modern world, in which the contemporary diaspora was formed, and reveals different layers of narratives of the exhibition.
Whiskey Chow, who addresses cultural preconceptions of Chinese identity and female masculinity through her performances, inevitably engages with the concept of a female body in a suppressive environment: either Christian church or contemporary patriarchy.
Being immersed in the video installation by Yifei Gong, the viewers see the familiar environment of a shopping mall as a dystopian setting and explore the notions of contemporary living: the concept of the private and the public, the self and the other, safety and surveillance.
Privacy as a vague intangible concept is addressed by Jan Chan who creates ironic and playful photographs with the use of colour and texture for the final imagery.
The focus is shifted from society to the individual in the Selfie series by Kitty Mai. She uses ink and paper to produce works that reflect the post-digital era and the way human beings are influenced by new technologies.
A different side of living in the digital age is explored by contemporary photographer Yushi Li: she addresses questions of gaze and reversed gender roles, exploring male representation as an erotic subject in light of social media.
Yolanda Y. Liou experiments with the medium of photography and presents a wide range of works, showing her work as a fashion photographer, her artistic experimental photography with the use of different materials and deeply personal research on the modern concept of beauty.
The exhibition comes to an end with a large-scale installation by Yingming Chen, who combines materials and techniques associated with traditional Chinese culture and contemporary aesthetics.
Thursday 29 August 2019
Opening reception 6pm – 9pm
The exhibition runs from August 30 to September 3, 2019. It is open from 10 am to 6pm.