“Mirror Image: A Transformation of Chinese Identity poses the question ‘What remains of ‘Chinese-ness’ once China has become a fully globalized nation?’ Through the artworks of seven artists—all born after 1976 (the year of Mao Zedong’s death), all products of the one-child policy, and all having come of age in an emerging superpower, this exhibition posits that a new transnational sense of self has emerged. Barely considering the traditional East-West dichotomy that dominates discussions of older generations of Chinese artists, these younger artists are full-fledged participants of a global art world.
The title, Mirror Image, refers to the double reflection at the heart of this exhibition. The participants in this exhibition reject the nationalistic label of ‘Chinese artist’ and prefer the banner ‘global artist.’ Eschewing stereotypical iconography and self-Orientalizing, these artists create works that reflect a contemporary China, where Starbucks can be found in the Forbidden City and the internet permits access—albeit with the help of a VPN—to countless sources of influence beyond geographic boundaries. At the same time, as they examine themselves looking inward, they also anticipate the reception of a global audience and challenge distortions of identity that assume Chinese artists are exotic, isolated, or politically motivated. Like a hall of mirrors, there is no one way to interpret their work and no single way of seeing things. — Asia Society Museum
Organized by Barbara Pollack, guest curator, with Han Hongzheng, guest curatorial assistant.