Lane Hall Exhibition Showcases Feminist Activism in China


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color photo of Chinese protesters wearing bloodied wedding gowns
color photo of Chinese protesters wearing bloodied wedding gowns

Above Ground: 40 Moments of Transformation

Opening Reception with Guest Speaker, Lü Ping on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 from 4:00-5:30 PM

The University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Department of Women’s Studies, Stamps School of Art & Design and the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies are pleased to host Above Ground: 40 Moments of Transformation, a photography exhibition highlighting the powerful, ground-breaking performance art and actions of China’s Young Feminist Activists (YFA). The exhibit is curated by Lü Ping, a Chinese feminist organizer and visiting scholar at Columbia University, who first organized the exhibit in New York City in fall 2015. 

The selected photographs capture a wide range of performance activism staged by YFA in China since 2012. Through their creative actions, they seek to raise awareness around gender discrimination and the violations of women’s rights in China - from domestic violence to inequality in higher education. Their guerilla theatre style tactics have attracted international attention, successfully engendering a handful of policy changes. Some of their actions have led to state suppression, most notably the detention of the Feminist Five on March 7, 2015 for planning to campaign against sexual harassment on public transportation.

Due to state-sanctioned restrictions around organizing in China, YFA’s non-violent performance actions, which often draw police attention, cannot last long. Many of their actions occur in the streets or other public spaces. While photography and film have both served critical roles in the preservation of their performances, the internet has magnified and replicated their work emphasizing the greater impact of their individual actions. The photographs themselves function not only as historical archives, but also important mediums of action. Many of the images created by young feminists have become the center of controversy and public debate, transforming public consciousness around the sexist and archaic treatment of women that has been historically normalized throughout China.

The Women's Studies Department and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender host two exhibits per year in the main lobby of Lane Hall, located at 204 South State Street and Washington. The Lane Hall Gallery is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM. 

Ramp and elevator access at the E. Washington Street entrance (by the loading dock). There are accessible restrooms on the south end of Lane Hall, on each floor of the building. A gender neutral restroom is available on the first floor.

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