Terracotta Daughters - Prune Nourry (Galerie Magda Danysz)
From the BBC comes this
story about artists who are using their craft to protest China’s notorious
one-child policy. It leads with a description of “Terracotta Daughters,” by French
artist Prune Nourry, which highlights how Chinese family-planning regulations
have resulted in the world’s most uneven sex ratio117 boys born for every 100
In a culture that traditionally favours male offspring, girls
have been abandoned, murdered and aborted. (In the year 2000 ninety percent of
aborted foetuses were reportedly female.) As such it is estimated that by the
end of this decade the country will have a surplus of 24 million bachelors.
This has led to fears that there will be a rise in the kidnapping and
trafficking of women as brides and, for single men stuck in the impoverished
countryside with no hope of marriage, a spike in gambling, depression, and
orphaned Chinese girls were used as models for the 108 sculptures in the
exhibition, which references China’s iconic Terra Cotta Warriors.
Huiyun started her life in the garbage.
As an unwanted baby girl, her parents abandoned her in the poor province where
she was born in central China. There, a pair of refuse collectors found her
with her umbilical cord still attached. They kept her, bringing her up as their
Huiyun is now 12 years old, and life has taken a turn for the better.
This year she became one of eight models featured in provocative French artist
Prune Nourry’s new exhibition Terracotta Daughters, now showing in Shanghai’s
Gallery Magda Danysz. An exploration of China’s
skewed sex ratio, the exhibition dishes up a new version of a national treasure
− with a twist. Nourry has fashioned more than one hundred sculptures in the
same clay, and using the same techniques, as the ancient Terracotta Warriors,
the famous collection of sculptures representing the armies of the first
Emperor of China. But instead of producing a brigade of soldiers, the artist
has created an army of schoolgirls. They symbolise China’s millions of missing
“I wanted to highlight the girls that are not cared about, by mixing
them with a strong familiar symbol [the Terracotta Warriors],” explains New
York-based Nourry. “When you change something slightly that everyone knows it
creates something bizarre − and people want to know more.”
For Terracotta Daughters Nourry modeled eight life-size sculptures on
eight real orphans. Combinations of these prototypes were then used to make a
further 108 sculptures in collaboration with traditional Chinese craftsmen.
Funds from the sales of the original eight will pay for three years’ education
for each orphan in co-operation with the NGO Children
of Madaifu. The
artwork is enabling a handful of children like Huiyun, who has dreams of
becoming a nurse, to stay in school.
Nourry is not alone in her exploration through the arts of the
consequences of China’s controversial one-child policy. Since it was introduced
in 1979 the policy has inspired debate that has consumed the population. In
just three decades it has dramatically refashioned Chinese society, affecting
an entire generation that has largely grown up without brothers and sisters.
more about the exhibition, and the work of other artists raising questions
about China’s one-child policy, here.
More images of “Terracotta Daughters” can be viewed here