Life

Yin Xiuzhen

尹秀珍

Production date
2007-2011

Object Detail


Media
used clothes
Measurements
dimensions variable
Notes
Using second-hand clothing as her primary material, installation artist Yin Xiuzhen explores personal memory, nostalgia, and the transformation and modernisation of contemporary China. The ironically titled Life consists of 3000 cigarette butts made of stitched, rolled-up clothing once worn by both smokers and non-smokers (or, as the artist, herself a non-smoker, calls them - second-hand smokers). This collection of tiny objects represents the detritus left behind as the smoker moves through life, each discarded butt indelibly marked by their DNA, a series of moments across the decades. Perhaps it records an artist’s life, smoking in the studio and contemplating an unfinished work. Yin says the butts are ‘spiritual objects’ – cigarettes are legal yet deadly, fetishised and desired.Originally inspired by the artist's discovery that smoking was banned from restaurants in Europe, much to the dismay of her fellow Chinese artists, 'Life' may be read as a wry comment on the continued prevalence of smoking in China, despite recent legislation to make the air in public spaces more breathable. But more broadly, and consistent with Yin Xiuzhen’s longstanding interest in environmental issues, we think of the toxic air so many urban dwellers around the world are forced to breathe – the health impacts of air choked with particulate matter, exhaust fumes from millions of cars and waste from the factories that produce the world’s clothing. Yin Xiuzhen’s work resonates globally, for all humanity.
Accession number
2016.134
Artist details