arts

Wells launches photo exhibit organized by doctoral student, well-known feminist



The Herman B Wells Library will soon launch the Arts and Humanities Council’s initiative “China Remixed” with the opening of a photographic exhibit.

“Above Ground – 40 Moments of Transformation” was originally organized by Chinese feminist Lü Ping and is organized at IU by gender studies doctoral candidate  Jiling Duan. The exhibit will be set up Jan. 10 in the Wells Library’s lobby.

The photographs, depicting efforts by feminist activists working in China, are important to Duan for a variety of reasons, she said in an email.

“As a Chinese feminist activist myself, I witnessed and 
participated in some of the feminist activities in China, and reported many of the events included in this exhibit when I was a journalist,” Duan said. “I understand how difficult it is to do something like what the Young Feminist Activism (YFA) did in China.”

Duan said she wants feminist friends who are fighting for the causes displayed in these photographs to feel supported.

“I want to give to my Chinese feminist friends, especially those who are still under a lot of pressure in China, some of them are even continuously harassed by the government,” Duan said. “I hope this exhibit will be successful, and I sincerely hope that the audience will leave some messages in the guest book.”

Michelle Crowe, director of communications for IU Libraries, said the exhibition is made for Wells because the library is the visual center among libraries on campus.

“Last year, over 2 million visits were recorded here, making the Wells Library Lobby one of the most heavily used academic spaces at Indiana University,” Crowe said. “Our work is tied closely to the teaching mission of this University, so hosting this exhibition here is an important way we can integrate the global humanities experiences happening on campus.”

There are also many reasons why students should pay special attention to this exhibition, Duan said in an email.

Not only are many of the activists of college and graduate-school ages, but the issues at play — sexual assault and violence among them — are some that can affect a wide audience, Duan said.

The connection to feminism and women’s rights is just the beginning, Duan said in an email. The exhibit opens the door to discovering the truth about gender issues in China.

“Since the young feminist adopted the performance art as the major strategy, this exhibit is also of art value,” Duan said in an email. “There are very interesting and exciting images included. You won’t be disappointed.”

Duan said all the images are powerful, though some have a special connection to her own life. “Bloody Bride” and “Occupy the Men’s Room,” for example, feature Duan’s friends.

“Those two are the very first few events successfully made on the street and drew a lot of attention from the public,” Duan said in an email. “Another one is particularly touching to me because I see the feminist solidarity around the world. Feminists will always carry on, no matter how hard it is.”

Support for feminist causes is the main reason why this exhibition is important, Duan said in an email. After the 2014 detainment of feminist activists in China on the eve of International Women’s Day, there was an outpouring of support and solidarity.

“I hope it would help strengthen the feminist solidarity and offer a chance for people of the same kind to get together, meet each other, and communicate with each other,” Duan said in an email.

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