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Putting women on the map

By Zhang Zixuan (China Daily)

14:44, March 08, 2013

(China Daily)

The Austrian embassy in Beijing is presenting Women Can Change the World - the solo exhibition of Chinese artist Feng Ling, in celebration of International Women's Day on March 8.

Feng is one of the earliest members of a female-conscious group in China, since the country opened up in 1978.

Her works repeatedly feature female images using various ways of presentation.

In the ongoing exhibition, she puts a hand-drawn map mixed with women's images on a mirror to trace the historic journey of the feminist movement around the world.

In the U-2pia series, the portrayed women - either sitting beside a desk or standing upon hills - are all covered with red scarves on their faces.

Born in the 1960s, Feng confesses that she and other people from her generation have a complex relationship with the color red.

"Red means happiness, enthusiasm and idealism to me," the 48-year-old says. "I use a red scarf to replace details on the face, erasing all the inherent impressions toward women."

The show's curator Stephen Volenec says: "The red scarf hides secrets from the audience, making them ask questions."

But, in one of Feng's most recent works, the signature-like red scarf is replaced with a white one.

The artist says she has become more peaceful over the years and as a philological reflection, so has the scarf.

"Feng used to paint more about herself. She has changed a lot, beginning to express how human beings can be connected with one another, which is very universal," Volenec says. "She has found inner peace."

Such peacefulness is also projected onto another new work, Go with the Flow. Made by acrylic, mineral powder and special glue, the painting features all kinds of greens and blues, with a planet-shaped object appearing indistinctly in the center.

"The work is my hope for the sustainable development of the environment and many other things," the artist explains.

Austrian Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl says Feng's art speaks a powerful language. "As any real art, it changes the world."

The exhibition will last at least one month at the Austrian embassy. People can make an appointment through to see the works.

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