Every City should fit into a Suitcase
“Portable City” is an on-going art series by Yin Xiuzhen. She uses various materials to make each city landscape such as recycled clothes, suitcases, maps, lights, magnifying glasses, and more.
Notes about Xiuzhen (from China Art Current):
Yin’s works are often participatory, with local people from the site of installation donating some of their own materials, ideas, or stories. Collecting used items such as fabrics, worn clothing, shoes and yarn from various peoples in the various communities she works in, Yin recycles and reformulates these objects into her pieces. Creating numerous installations in the Beijing environment and in Beijing galleries, Yin has created works that have incorporated inhabitants’ shoes, tiles from destroyed homes that made way for high-rise buildings, and water from a river polluted by the incursion of urbanization and modernization. By washing blocks of frozen polluted water with clean water in her outdoor project Washing the River (1985), Yin highlights the problems of China’s sudden urbanization.
While Beijing has been the focus of inspiration for much of her work, documenting the process of deconstruction and reconstruction, Yin has since installed her work worldwide, examining cultural changes in different locales. Investigating the repercussions of globalization, with the massive changes brought about by mass transportation and communication, where physical distances have decreased by massive leaps and bounds—she examines how the cultural fabric that identifies individual cultures are either reinforced or broken down by change. In addition to examining the effects of globalization, Yin also draws heavily from her personal experiences. In her work, Portable Cities (2002-2004), Yin recreates her personal images/memories of a city, and experiences of ‘living out of a suitcase’, into miniaturized cities.
Taking found fabric and clothing from the city in question (i.e. Vancouver, Berlin etc.), Yin sews together little buildings, bridges, and greenscapes inside suitcases, manufacturing transportable cities. With landmark buildings recreated on a miniaturized scale in the likes of gingham cloth, corduroy, and cotton, and recorded soundscapes of the city in question, the pieces are at once humorous, nostalgic and poignant. With their hand-crafted appeal and use of old clothing, they infuse the anonymity of city-living with the personal. While globalization and the increased openness of China has allowed the possibility for more people like Yin to travel and visit all the cities within her suitcases, ironically it has also meant that the cities themselves have incurred a certain proclivity to becoming increasingly indistinguishable. Confronting the notions of increased homogenization of cultures and environments, versus the conflicting stratifications of wealth distribution and access to commodities and exchange, Yin’s work brings about questions concerning the desire for rapid modernization and globalization.
Photos courtesy Beijing Commune Link via WebUrbanist