Yin Xiuzhen is an installation artist exploring the impact of globalization and technological advances on society and the individual. The demolition and reconstruction in her native Beijing illuminate and inspire her work and help her capture the social change caused by both sudden and gradual transformations in physical space. As cities evolve, along with our ways of experiencing and navigating them, memories of the past become more distant and more precious. In China, where large numbers of rural citizens are being forced to move into new urban housing, this ache for the past is accelerated and exacerbated, but it can be found in any modern city. Xiuzhen uses her art to map these cities and the memories behind them.
Xiuzhen’s Portable Cities are three dimensional maps of actual cities made from articles of clothing and fabric modified and arranged in suitcases. We get the idea that the city is made up of the people who live and play there, not just the structures themselves. People leave their mark–just as we may spot a label, collar, or other adornment decorating these miniature cityscapes. The suitcase is a bold metaphor as well, connoting both the mobility of modern technology and its capacity for isolation. Can it be that the city is carried with us as we travel, insulating us from other experiences? There is a sense of fragility and impermanence here as well. You can see more of these clever and unusual Portable Cities in this lovely photoblog from Beautiful Decay.