Chinese artist Zihui Song will be giving an art talk tomorrow, 6.30 pm, at Macau Art Garden. She spoke to mART about her work “What We Talk about When We Talk about Abortion?,” which has earned her a Honourable Mention in the latest edition of Macau’s international video art festival VAFA — Video Art for All.
By Sofia Jesus
Zihui Song has developed a video art piece in which she uses the topic of abortion to raise awareness to the way women are treated in Mainland China.
“I’m using abortion as an introduction to emphasising the importance of women’s autonomy,” Ms Song told mART, referring to her video art piece “What We Talk about When We Talk about Abortion?”.
The work — which won a Honourable Mention in the 2016 edition of Macau’s international video art festival VAFA — is “fictional,” but it was inspired in interviews Ms Song made to 25 Chinese women who had gone through the painful experience of abortion, she says.
The women she interviewed were aged 16 to 28, and “some of them had had more than three abortions,” she explains. Most of them regretted their decision, with some blaming themselves for having taken a life, she adds.
Abortion is legal in China, where a one-child policy was in place for around 40 years until last year. According to Ms Song, abortion is also “a huge booming industry” in the country.
Being “ashamed of getting pregnant before marriage” or having a partner that did not wish to be responsible for the child, living the women unable to afford raising a kid on their own, were some of the reasons that led some of them to an abortion, she tells mART.
Her video art work shows women — actresses — sharing the “psychological challenges” they met after having an abortion. These characters represent women of “different backgrounds,” and what they say and “the way they interact between themselves” provide clues for a reflection on “how the Chinese patriarchal society influences them,” Ms Song explains.
“People are beginning to realise the importance of gender equality in China,” she says. But there are still “a lot of problems”. The patriarchal system that prevails in the country still “rewards males” who “treat women as objects”.
Ms Song, who will move back to the United States later this year, will be giving an art talk tomorrow, 6.30 pm, at Macau Art Garden.
Born in Xi’an in 1990, Ms Song holds a bachelor of fine arts in Photography from Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts. She also studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art in the United States, where she got an MFA in Photographic and Electronic Media. Her work “mainly focuses on femininity and the unjust prejudice of specific situations in patriarchal societies like China,” says a note on the Facebook page of tomorrow’s event.