“China’s Female Artists Quietly Emerge”

Xiao Lu


If you find the title above (from the NY Times) ominous, you’re right.  First of all, though, it is puzzling.   Why?  Because this is their first anecdote:

On a February day in 1989, a young woman walked into a show at the National Gallery of Art here, whipped out a pellet gun and fired two shots into a mirrored sculpture in an exhibition called “China/Avant-Garde.” Police officers swarmed into the museum. The show, the country’s first government-sponsored exhibition of experimental art, was shut down for days.

The woman, Xiao Lu, is an artist. The sculpture she fired on was her own, or rather a collaborative piece she had made with another artist, Tang Song, her boyfriend at the time.
The international press saw a rebellion story. China’s political and cultural vanguard claimed a hero. The government reacted as if attacked. The renowned art critic Li Xianting has described the incident as a precursor to the Tiananmen Square crackdown four months later. Whatever the truth, Ms. Xiao made the history books. She was a star.

That’s not exactly quiet, is it?
In fact, the women artists are “emerging quietly” in so far as they are just not heard or seen:

She is the first and last Chinese female artist so far to achieve that status. Contemporary art in China is a man’s world. While the art market, all but nonexistent in 1989, has become a powerhouse industry and produced a pantheon of multimillionaire artist-celebrities, there are no women in that pantheon.

The new museums created to display contemporary art rarely give women solo shows. Among the hundreds of commercial galleries competing for attention in Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere, art by women is hard to find.

Yet the art is there, and it is some of the most innovative work around, even as visibility remains a problem.

Rather like a long advertisement for the Olympics, the NY Times is discovering China these days.  Or perhaps it has become a primer for all those parties.  Still, many of its pieces are usefully interesting, and the one about artists is too, even if too much about their exclusion is dismally familiar.  The women are also all, it seems, ambivalent about feminism and what they see as a very Western slant to it.

And the print above, in a private collection in China, will cost you between $25,000-$35,000.

Trans toilets

Sign for toiletsThere have been high profile cases on the matter of which toilets trans people should be able to use – see here, for instance.

A solution from Thailand: the ‘third sex’ toilets. This link is to a short video, explaining why a school in Thailand introduced a toilet for those pupils who considered themselves transsexual. The pupil interviewed seems quite content with the set up.

A model to be replicated? Or a risk of further marginalisation?

Sexual harassment: without which the species would die out

Wow. H/T Hilde Lindemann on the FEAST mailing list.

“He always demanded that female workers signalled to him with their eyes that they desperately wanted to be laid on the boardroom table as soon as he gave the word,” she earlier told the court. “I didn’t realise at first that he wasn’t speaking metaphorically.”
The judge said he threw out the case not through lack of evidence but because the employer had acted gallantly rather than criminally.
“If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children,” the judge ruled.

Since Soviet times, sexual harassment in Russia has become an accepted part of life in the office, work place and university lecture room.
According to a recent survey, 100 per cent of female professionals said they had been subjected to sexual harassment by their bosses, 32 per cent said they had had intercourse with them at least once and another seven per cent claimed to have been raped.
Eighty per cent of those who participated in the survey said they did not believe it possible to win promotion without engaging in sexual relations with their male superiors.

To hold the judge’s view, you’d have to think (among other things) that no woman would willingly have sex with a man. One can only surmise that, rather unsurprisingly, this has been his experience.

LaVena Johnson

It’s been shamefully long time since I mentioned LaVena Johnson, the soldier whose apparent rape and murder seems to have been the subject of quite a cover-up. I’m mentioning it again now because there’s a petition to sign. But it’s also worth noting, as Cara does, just how slow both civil rights and women’s organisations have been to join this fight.