The opening ceremony was scheduled for mid-morning, but when we arrived at the gallery early to re-check the installation and set up the documentation equipment, many visitors were already carefully and intently viewing the exhibition and discussing it with those around them. Through delegate Mido Lee, who seemed to be everywhere interpreting, problem solving tech issues and filming, I asked Wang Yi Gang, the Gallery Director and Chinese Curator for Half the Sky, if our works appeared to be edgy or uncomfortable for the Chinese viewers. He replied that they were somewhat challenging, but that art that focuses on such difficult issues as domestic violence and rape, opens the eyes of viewers and that is important.
Gallery staff told us they had never seen so many people show up for an opening and our Beijing-based delegate Katie Morton, said that crowds are typically small even at openings for internationally known artists and exhibits in Beijing.
Priscilla Otani and I were asked to stand with the President of LuXun Academy and other dignitaries as Wang Yi Gang spoke first - elaborating on the unprecedented nature of this exhibition of US-based and Chinese women artists and the unique opportunities for these women to share their views of the world. I spoke about the impetus of this project - to build community and find common ground through art, in ways that crossed cultural and language barriers. I said that this project was so much more than the 13 delegates who were together in Shenyang and thanked:
-Wei Er Shen, president of the Academy, for our initial official invitation to create the project
-Wang Yi Gang for the use of the beautiful gallery and for selecting the Chinese artists
-our Co-director Jing Deng
-her friend and the Chinese Co-Curator Zhao Yin Ou, who, together, came up with the initial idea to provide an opportunity for WCA and Chinese artists to exhibit in China
-Yin Ou's mother, who works in the Academy photography department and helped us build the groundwork
-Xiao Ke, a gallery staff member, who ran down answers for our many questions
-our delegate leaders, Rosemary, Christine and Sandra
-our artists, essayists and jurors
-and the many volunteers who supported us back in the States
Priscilla talked about the history of WCA and its roots in activism and the UN.
There was much applause and excited interaction with artists and participants when the official opening ended. After so many months of work and unknowns, our delegation was beginning to feel great satisfaction.
This blog documents Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art, a cultural exchange and exhibition created by the International Caucus of the Women’s Caucus for Art and in partnership with and at the LuXun Academy of Fine Arts, located in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China from April 15-30, 2014.
Delegates of Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art will post and comment on this blog.