Mirror Image: A Transformation of Chinese Identity

June 15, 2022 – December 31, 2022
Asia Society

725 Park Ave.
New York, NY

Tianzhuo Chen. Trance, 2019 (video still). Two single-channel videos with sound (loop). Duration: 5 minutes, 1 second; 2 minutes, 51 seconds. Image courtesy of the artist, BANK/MABSOCIETY, and Asia Society Museum, New York.

Tianzhuo Chen. Trance, 2019 (video still). Two single-channel videos with sound (loop). Duration: 5 minutes, 1 second; 2 minutes, 51 seconds. Image courtesy of the artist, BANK/MABSOCIETY, and Asia Society Museum, New York.

Asia Society Museum presents Mirror Image: A Transformation of Chinese Identity, an exhibition of 19 artworks by seven artists, born in mainland China in the 1980s, opening at Asia Society Museum on June 15. Belonging to what is referred to as the ba ling hou generation, these artists grew up in a post-Mao China shaped by the one-child policy and the influx of foreign investment. Comprising painting, sculpture, performance, installation, video, digital art, and photography, the exhibition reflects the dramatic economic, political, and cultural shifts the artists have experienced in China during their lifetimes.

The exhibition’s title, Mirror Image, refers to the double reflection at the heart of the exhibition. Rather than emphasizing their “Chinese-ness,” these artists’ respective practices are born of a China where Starbucks can be found in the Forbidden City and the internet permits them access—despite the obstacles of censorship—to a host of influences beyond geographical boundaries. Their works strike a balance between appealing to a global art market—all have established international careers—while speaking directly or obliquely to aspects of contemporary Chinese realities.

Participating artists are:

Tianzhuo Chen | 陈天灼 – (b. 1985 in Beijing, China; lives and works in Beijing and Shanghai, China)

Cui Jie | 崔洁  – (b. 1983 in Shanghai, China; works in Shanghai, China)

Pixy Liao | 廖逸君 – (born 1979 in Shanghai, China; lives and works in New York, U.S.)

Liu Shiyuan | 刘诗园 – (b. 1985 in Beijing, China; lives and works in Beijing, China, and Copenhagen, Denmark)

Miao Ying | 苗颖 – (b. 1985 in Shanghai, China; lives and works in New York, U.S. and Shanghai, China)

Nabuqi | 娜布其 – (b. 1984 in Inner Mongolia, China; lives and works in Beijing, China)

Tao Hui | 陶辉 – (b. 1987 in Chongqing, China; lives and works in Beijing, China).

On October 6, 6:30-8:30, Asia Society will host a panel discussion with three young Asian curators based in New York, moderated by Han Hongzheng, curatorial assistant for Mirror Image: A Transformation of Chinese Identity. These four thought-leaders represent a new generation and a new perspective on Asian culture. Scholar Amy Kahng will discuss the curatorial disciplines from an academic perspective; Lingfei Ren will speak from the perspective of being an artist and curator; and Phil Cai, partner at Eli Klein Gallery, will address the commercial aspects of curation. Moderated by Hongzheng Han, guest curatorial assistant for the Asia Society Museum exhibition Mirror Image: A Transformation of Chinese Identity.

Phil Zheng Cai graduated from Sotheby’s Institute of Art with a master’s degree in 2014. He has held posts at Mary Boone Gallery and Phillips Auctioneers, and is currently a Partner at Eli Klein Gallery focusing on Chinese contemporary art where he has presented solo shows for artists such as Cai Dongdong, Chow Chun Fai, Shen Fan, Li Hongbo, Ho Kan, and Ji Zhou among others. He has also curated critically acclaimed group exhibitions, including most recently Alienation? in 2021. Phil also works in the domain of art criticism and translation of texts on philosophy. His has authored a number of exhibition reviews for Widewalls Magazine, and his most recent critical text “Everything can become an NFT, is it true?” was published by the New York TimesT Magazine China. His translated book The Story of Philosophy was published by Shanghai Yuandong Press in 2020.

Amy Kahng is a PhD candidate in Art History and Criticism at Stony Brook University. Her dissertation project examines twentieth century Asian American artists and their relationship to land and landscape. Other research interests include global contemporary art, modern and contemporary art in Korea, and transnational feminist art practices. Her MA thesis centered on South Korean artist Lee Bul’s practice from the 1990s. Amy is an independent curator and recently exhibited Mis/Communication: Language and Power in Contemporary Art and Printing Solidarity: Tricontinental Graphics from Cuba. She is currently working on an exhibition revisiting Frank Bowling’s historic 5+1 exhibition at Stony Brook University.

Lingfei Ren is a visual artist and a curator based in New York City. She received her MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media at the School of Visual Arts New York City, an MA in Arts Management at George Mason University, and her BA in Fine Arts at Southeast University, Nanjing. Her recent curatorial projects include Jessica Wee: The Shape of SelfSPRING/BREAK Art Show, Kanak Guo: Strange Him, space240, and magazine-based projects. She works at Fotografiska New York, is Senior Photo Editor at Musée Magazine, and a contributing editor for Chinese Photographers Magazine. She has written a number of exhibition reviews and had interviews and conversations with artists and curators like Jeff Wall, Alec Soth, Alex Prager, James Welling, Lisa Oppenheim, Nat Trotman, Liu Heung Shing and Karen Smith. Ren’s art practice discusses the definition of“home” and people’s psychological conditions affected by identity, family, social construction, and urban life. Awards include Annual Photography Rankings of China, the Winner of the Professionals’ Choice, Danny Wilson Awards, Alice Beck-Odette Scholarship, and Honorable Mentions of International Photography Awards. Her works were exhibited internationally, including International Center of Photography, Three Shadows XiamenPhotography Art Center, Enjoy Art Museum, APSMuseum, Shanghai FUJIFILM X-Space, Being 3 Gallery, La Mama Galleria, New York City, Filter Space, Chicago, Floor_ Gallery, Seoul, Photo Fringe, Brighton, Lishui Photography Festival, Pingyao International Photography Festival, Xishuangbanna Foto Festival, and Shanghai ART021.

Hongzheng Han (moderator) received their BFA with honors from Parsons, the New School in 2017, and an MA with distinction from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU in 2019. During their study at the IFA, Han co-founded IFA Contemporary Asia, the first pan-Asian art forum at NYU. Han is now an international curator and a program director at Asian Creative Foundation. Focusing on queer and racial identities, Han has been invited as a guest speaker at University of Edinburgh, University of Michigan, University of Pittsburg, New York University, Brooklyn Rail, Christie’s Education, and the Asian Creative Collective. Recent curatorial works include Within Global Isolation: Asian Artists in America and Beyond Borders: Art in the Post COVID Era. Han is the guest curatorial assistant for Mirror Image: A Transformation of Chinese Identity.