香妹 Xiang Mei
香妹 Xiang Mei
香妹 Xiang Mei
香妹 Xiang Mei
香妹 Xiang Mei
香妹 Xiang Mei
香妹 Xiang Mei
香妹 Xiang Mei
香妹 Xiang Mei
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Xiang Mei 香妹 

is derived from found objects - three Chinese art deco beauty advertisements (commonly referred to as ’Shanghai girls’), typical of 1920s and 30s Shanghai. 

I purchased the three posters (ea 25x38 cm) for CNY ¥20 from a street seller in GulouDongdajie, Beijing, in July 2011. 

They caught my eye due to their distinct yet ambiguous play with (female) sexuality. Later, I transferred them onto Chinese rice paper (ea 30x40 cm), merging the female figures with an imaginative natural landscapes. The original ads underwent a transformation by being set into a different context and later different size. For a call for artist proposals by Embassy of the Arts Austria on the topic of 'dazibao' (大字报 'Big-character poster'). enlarged both, original ads and drawings to 230x300 cm and got them applied onto walls in public space in Chongqing (CN).


The work underwent a material and contextual change several times: three small prints prompted me to start drawing, with posters and the drawings being used for their original purpose, this time as enlarged public advertisments. Found objects removed from public space and their original context, were transformed into rather private and stylised drawings, before being returned to a public stage in the form of an installation in public space. This signifies how high and low culture are mutually dependent, reflecting the dynamic relations between microcosm and macracosm and how I, via visual language, can playfully interact with a culture that is not mine. 


Alice Dittmar