In the line “I made you to find me” from the poem The Double Image (1981), poet Anne Sexton speaks directly to her daughter while acknowledging the confusion and complexity of motherhood. Who is looking for whom? Where to look and how? Who has been found? What is lost?
The starting point of the exhibition project is the concept of ‘feminist mothering’ and how it manifests as a subject in artistic practice. Three visual artists explore motherhood, multiple female identities, and matrilineal threads from an intergenerational perspective, creating rich visual dialogues not only across generations but also cultures and nationalities.
Cai Yaling is one of the first generation that grew up under China’s one-child policy and gave birth to two children after the policy was relaxed. Her multiple identities reconcile with each other and finally rest on a powerful “maternal gaze” that naturally takes shape within her artistic practice. Working with corporeal and sensory quotidian materials, Yaling abstracts matrilineal tenderness, cries of motherhood, and repetitive care labor. The artist-mother thus finds herself moving more freely within the realm of her
How did the family’s past fade away? How can we retrieve matrilineal memories? Zhou Yujie, as a daughter/granddaughter/ great-granddaughter, retraces vivid moments from the lives of four generations of women in her family. Yujie digs into their entwined female identities and reanimates family memories through photographs and installations, uncovering unrecorded voices and the common thread between four generations.
Magdalena Kallenberger continues her practice of including her child directly in her art. In the photograph We tried, but did not succeed (2023), Magdalena and her son positioned themselves head-to-head, assuming a push-up position amidst the backdrop of a volcano and patches of snow. Is the harsh natural environment a metaphor for the potential heaviness and bitterness experienced in motherhood? Does mirroring each other’s movements hint at the intersubjectivity implicit within the mother-child relationship that could be more supportive, fragile, intense, and assertive, encompassing a wealth of richness and complexity?
Against the backdrop of feminist mothering, I Made You to Find Me thus invites (m)others, (non)mothers, daughters, care-givers, and more to imagine both the spatial and temporal paths to “finding” as well as the myriad possibilities of “being found.”
The exhibition takes place as part of Berlin Art Week
Cai Yaling, who recently obtained her Ph.D. degree at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (China), insists on exploring new possibilities for materials in installations. She extracts discourses that are deeply experienced in daily life, outlining the multiple layers of resistance of contemporary women/mothers in the face of real difficulties.
Zhou Yujie is a visual artist and researcher living in Helsinki. She works with photography as her primary medium. Through performativity and a decoded notion of language, her practice seeks to interrogate dominant historical narratives and power structures while reframing a collective
Magdalena Kallenberger works with video, photography, performance, installation, and text, combining research into feminist histories and practices with bodily, lived experience, theory, and performative elements. Her researchbased and often collaborative work investigates radical care and feminist practices tackling the in/visibility of care/work and motherhood(s) not just in the Arts.
Li Yang is a visiting curator and researcher funded by The German Chancellor Fellowship (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation). Her research and curatorial interests include feminist curating, motherhood in art, care, and Chinese feminist art. Her most recent articles will be published by Woman‘s Art Journal and Demeter Press.
with Cai Yaling, Zhou Yujie and Magdalena Kallenberger, moderated by Li Yang
14.9.2023 // 20:00 (in English)
Exploring the Visual
Presentations and Talks with AvH fellows + Kuratorinführung durch die Ausstellung
28.9.2023 // 19:00 (in English)
Exploring the Visual Visual, under the auspices of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s German Chancellor Fellowship, invites a small cohort of international fellows and their hosts to open a critical dialogue on researching the visual within their respective fields: contemporary art, filmmaking, journalism, and independent publishing. The event aims to enhance cross-national connections and academic exchange through both
making and thinking, fostering an inclusive discourse of visual studies which draws from each fellows’ diverse perspectives (migration, ecology,
gender, motherhood, climate, etc …). The curator Li Yang will give a curatorial tour of her exhibition I Made You to Find Me.
The event takes place in cooperation with Art Laboratory Berlin.