Chen Qiulin: The Empty City at the Honolulu Museum of Art, March 27-June 15, 2014
Artist Chen Qiulin stands out among the numerous Chinese artists, predominantly male, who work in the capital, Beijing, or in the metropolis of Shanghai. Chen grew up in the small city of Wanzhou, which was submerged under the Yangtze River by the controversial Three Gorges Dam–the world’s largest–in 2003. Wanzhou’s entire population (250,000) was relocated, and the remaining parts of the region that are still above water have been absorbed into the Municipality of Chongqing (population 28 million).
In Chen’s most recent video series, The Empty City, she returns to Wanzhou. According to the Honolulu Museum of Art where the videos are currently on view, The Empty City reflects “the fundamental struggle of China (and its people) to reinvent itself in response to a rapidly changing world, but also to the larger cross-cultural struggle of the individual to preserve and continue to find relevance in memories of a lost past in the face of technological and social progress.”