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ABOUT THE ARTWORK

"Women's Writing", Nüshu in Chinese, is a writing system developed by and only passed on among the female population of small villages in South Hunan Province. Derived from square Chinese characters, Nüshu takes on a whimsical shape, looking almost like dancing figures. For an exhibition during the artist's Swatch Art Peace Hotel residency in 2018, a round table embroidery session was initiated, where the audience was invited to embroider their own Nüshu characters. On the backside of the fabric, the characters become even more abstract, like a language in its own right.
In Japan, similarly, women developed a simplified writing style from Chinese cursive script, known as Onnade, meaning "Women's Hand", (later known as Hiragana), to author literature, private communications among each other, as well as waka poems. Kanji was dominantly practiced by men and used to write official documents. The four lenticulars shown here demonstrate how Chinese characters became "folded" into the Japanese Onnade tradition.
Onnade and Nüshu appeared and manifested themselves in distinct ways. Eventually Onnade gained the upper hand and became the accepted form of writing together with Kanji, while Chinese Nüshu is now a dying practice considered to be cultural heritage. Yet together they tell the story of our shared history and memory — how women in different countries gave themselves a voice in a restricted and patriarchal environment, and how our communities and societies are connected through this resourceful act of defiance

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Born in 1990, Jessie Yingying Gong was raised in China before setting out to study and live in Europe that prompted in her a lasting fascination with the topics of memory, identity, symbols and language. The visual artist and photographer has exhibited in Asia and Europe. Yingying Gong is currently based between Shanghai and Amsterdam.  

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