Chinese Authorities Shut Down Feminist Exhibition in Beijing

The show focused on violence against women.

A photo by Liu Jing depicting women staring at broken manikins and a topless man. Photo: Wechat/Cangjia via Quartz
Chinese authorities have taken a tough stance on culture under Xi Jinping's presidency. Photo: ibtimes.co.uk

Chinese authorities have taken a tough stance on culture under Xi Jinping’s presidency.
Photo: ibtimes.co.uk

A feminist art exhibition in Beijing celebrating the fight against domestic violence was shut down by Chinese authorities hours before it was scheduled to open on Wednesday.

The opening was timed to coincide with the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. But when artists arrived at Beijing’s Jinge Art Gallery to install the show, they discovered the doors had been bolted shut.

A sculpture by Gao brothers depicting women being carried away by Mao lookalikes. Photo: Wechat/Cangjia via Quartz

A sculpture by Gao brothers depicting women being carried away by Mao lookalikes.
Photo: Wechat/Cangjia via Quartz

Curator Cui Guangxia told the Guardian that the show would have included works from 64 Chinese artists. In order to explore violence against women from the balanced perspective of both genders: half of the selected artists were women and the other half men.

“The reason our exhibition was called off is pressure from higher authorities,” Guangxia said. According to the curator the debate surrounding gender equality and the size of the exhibition made authorities uneasy.

A photo by Liu Jing depicting women staring at broken manikins and a topless man. Photo: Wechat/Cangjia via Quartz

A photo by Liu Jin depicting women staring at broken mannequins and a topless man.
Photo: Wechat/Cangjia via Quartz

Photos from the exhibition depict a wall piece featuring a bra sewed over crumpled Chinese currency featuring the face of Mao Zedong. Elsewhere a portrait shows a woman protesting against the sexual abuse of children.

The incident is the latest example of the Communist party’s attempts to silence China’s feminist movement. In March authorities detained five feminist performance artists who started a campaign against sexual harassment on public transportation.

A work by Chen Guang showing a bra sewn on crumpled banknotes depicting Mao Zedong. Photo: Wechat/Cangjia via Quartz

A work by Cheng Guang showing a bra sewn on crumpled banknotes depicting Mao Zedong.
Photo: Wechat/Cangjia via Quartz

Meanwhile, feminist activists claimed they were warned not to publicly observe the 20th anniversary of the UN’s Fourth Conference on Women in September.

Aside from an apparent crackdown on feminist activism, Chinese writers, artists, and activists have spoken of a increased surveillance and a tougher stance on freedom of speech since President Xi Jinping took office. Ai Weiwei has been an especially vocal critic of the communist party’s stance.


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