Stories of a Woman and Her Dowry is the first solo exhibition after
Yanyun Chen’s successful outing at the Singapore Art Museum’s President’s Young
Talents (PYT) showcase. It highlights the signature narrativity of her
installations, both visible in the PYT presentation and here, where the work is
as much seen as read, and text functions as theoretical and narrative devices
equally, if not more so than as visual ones.
The installation is organized novelistically, with four chapters and a prologue. Each chapter is named by a Chinese ideogram, each designating the roles and life-stages a woman was expected to occupy within the Cantonese-Hainanese milieu of her family – 女 nü (woman), 妻 qī (bride), 娘niáng (wife), 母 mǔ (mother). Her Dowry as an installation works as spatial auto-fiction, in which the walls of the Grey space becomes the analogue to pages and text, and the encompassing space the spine of a biography of a young woman weighing the consequences of these expectations and staging a refusal. The installation draws filmic associations with scenes in Raise the Red Lantern (1991), A City of Sadness (1989), as well as literary allusions to an Ophelia-like body floating on a plain of liquid red.
About the Artist
Dr. Yanyun Chen (b. 1986, Singapore) is a visual artist. She runs a charcoal-based drawing practice, and her works respond to writing — fictional and philosophical — as well as aesthetic traditions and techniques. She was presented with the “People’s Choice Award” for the President’s Young Talents 2018 exhibition at Singapore Art Museum and is the winner of the 2019 ArtOutreach IMPART Visual Artist Award. She received her PhD with Summa Cum Laude from the European Graduate School. She is a full-time lecturer in the Arts & Humanities division of Yale-NUS College in Singapore, the founder of illustration and animation studio Piplatchka, and the managing partner of publishing house Delere Press LLP. She lives and works in Singapore.