Time: November 1, 2020—January 1, 2021
Location: Freer Gallery of Art, Gallery 23 & 24
China is a county with a many different ethnicities, each with their own unique culture and identity. With the largest population and most resources, the Han people are the dominate ethnic group in China. Because of the political and cultural dominance of the Han people, the images of China’s ethnic minorities are usually created by Han ethnic to fit the political needs or cultural assumption. Over time, many of such images of Chinese ethnic minorities have even been widely accepted by the Chinese people and even internalized by the ethnic minorities themselves. In this mini exhibition, I would like to put five artworks related to ethnic minorities in modern China (four by artists of Han ethnicity and one by a Tibetan artist) on display and examine how are the ethnic minorities and their culture represented in these works, and why are they represented in such ways.
The purpose of this exhibition is to raise awareness of the possible bias in the common representations of China’s ethnic minorities. However, I have no intention to establish any “correct images” of the ethnic minorities, since that is beyond my expertise.
This exhibition can also be viewed in a dialog with the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room in “Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice Across Asia” exhibition at gallery 22 of Freer Gallery of Art. Visitors can look at how the culture of a Chinese ethnic minority is represented in a different setting.