Intervention: Art Talk at Radius Gallery
“Consider beyond from presenting body forms, perhaps without body forms involved.” was one of the tutor’s feedbacks that stuck in my head. I went back to my original understanding to the fluidity of beauty and created a photo series using grapes as a metaphor to female body form, combing easily reformed materials such as paper.
At this stage I also realised that audience feedbacks is a crucial part in this project in order to actually make the change happen and interact with the public. I got in contact with Professor Frenghua Wang, an artist I met in Leeds who is also a professor in public arts at Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts. He put me in contact with a few Xi’an local curators and artists who are also interested in this subject matter. I also reached out to a couple of local contemporary galleries and shared my ideas as well as initial sample works. Radius Gallery agreed in the end to offer me a space to create and present in October after their current show ends.
So I asked whether I could arrange a test talk at the space in a small scale. The test talk was held on 2nd-October 19:00 as I hope to gather as many audiences I can during the nation holiday.
Women who have social appearance concerns / anxiety (Both Local and Online). This event was advertised through wechat, wechat moments and in the gallery.
What Role they played in the intervention:
Art Talk participates; People who are interested in the topic; People who are interested in art talks but never been to one as this is a relatively new format to the locals; People who might have suffered from similar problems
Communication with small crowd (friends or targeted audience)- prepare for the formal talk which will be available to the public
Interviewees / more data gathered for following research
“It was quite interesting to see how plastic surgeons define and see what beauty standard is to them because I have been considering getting my eyes done for ages. It has been a hard time for me to research stuff like this because people often are tendentious on stuff like this. After this talk I found I’m not the only one and there is nothing wrong with pursuing beauty in my own way.” – Jinhui Zhang, 24, Student at Chang’an University, Xian
“I’ve always been panicking on how many wrinkles have appeared on my face and I feel so bad and old about how I look seeing how perfect the celebs are out there. I do know they photoshop but I guess it’s their job to look good right? I’d like to come to the next talk hope there will be something more to inspire. Aging gracefully shouldn’t be that hard right? But yah, dressing up nicely and comfortably is also helping with building up confidence too.” – Annie Wang, Audit at Pwc Xi,an
Intervention Reflective|Future Plans:
The test talk was advertised on a small scale, people who were interested and came to the talk at the end were 11 females age between 18 to 45, who heard about this project via friends, WeChat moment articles or gallery front door. I would recall this as a relatively successful offline intervention, it was a two-way idea exchange and I gained multiple feedbacks from this talk to develop my interventions further. Most of the feedbacks were positive, my audiences found it was helpful in terms of getting to know what were the causes of their concerns and anxieties, as well as realising this psychological state is relatively common. However some did feel like my images and messages delivered were not strong enough to improve the current situation. How to generate progress on pushing the actual change happen on a larger scale was something I drew attention to in the next stage.
Concurrently, I reached out to more experts and leading individuals from the categorised fields that I narrowed down. (Plastic surgery; photoshop; Attire; Social media influence etc.)
Ongoing processes| Plans:
- Arrange photoshoot with experts/influencers from categories above
- Organise shooting Representational art film clips
- Putting up an exhibition at Radius Gallery and record public reactions
- Use of social media influences and deliver interventions to larger audiences
- A plan for improving the situation by introducing a new sportswear line which aims all sizes, as attire voted as the most realistically changeable and functional aspect of daily life, it is also aiming to break the boundaries of appearance anxiety, as well as enhancing a more confident lifestyle for all age and size groups women. (This could be an intention as an ending to this project due to time limitation, but could be seen as an ongoing goal).
20th October updates:
The gallery has been postponing many arranged exhibition due to the pandemic lock-down earlier on this year. Unfortunately they can’t offer me the space this month as we spoke before. The plan of holding an exhibition could no longer be included as part of this research project during time spent on this MA course. Plan No.4 – I will focus on looking for social media influences and how to make well use of social media to reach out to more stakeholders.