Yin Xiuzhen is an amazing textile artist from Beijing, China who works across a range of media.
Her Portable Cities series creates models of cities inside suitcases which explores issues of globalisation and homogenisation, but also memory and transience. Yin’s perspective examines how the concept of living permanently in one location has been overwritten by the modern pressures to keep moving and changing.
The buildings and landmarks are created from the clothes of residents of the cities in question and are, quite frankly, terrific pieces of three-dimensional textile work. Yin spends time in each place and the buildings chosen for re-creation are ones that she finds memorable. It provides an interesting view of the locations and enforces her key message; you cannot truly understand, and therefore learn from an environment, unless you spend a good amount of time there.
Creating these mini metropolises (metropolii?) within suitcases is a tremendous technical achievement, and also a very clear statement about modernity. People are no longer encouraged to remain in one place, there is a constant pressure to move and try new environments. However there is a deep significance in placing roots in one place and allowing that place to shape you – people who are constantly moving can never truly appreciate the richness of a particular society. The more transience the lifestyle, the more homogenised people become.
Yin exhibits across the globe and her work can be found on a wide range of gallery websites. The Portable Cities are the tip of her artistic iceberg and it’s worth taking the time to explore her many installations and projects.