How much visibility does queer art currently afford in China? During the month of August, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) will be holding a series of events, including artist conversations, panel discussions, and screenings, aimed at helping the public answer this question.
In his final collection of writings, philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty describes the creation of art as the intertwining of the visible and the invisible. Queer art gives physical expression to that which is often invisible to the public, and thus dismantle the dichotomy between “inside and outside.” For the audience, Merleau-Ponty states that the act of perception is not a neutral process, but rather necessarily creative. Therefore visibility for queer art is vital in allowing audiences to not only interact with the artists and share in their experiences, but also participate in the interweaving of the visible and the invisible.
The second event in the series are screenings of the films Our Marriages: Lesbians Marry Gay Men co-directed by He Xiaopei and Yuan Yuan, and Yvo and Chrissy by He Xiaopei. The screening is followed by a conversation with both directors and UCCA English Editor Alvin Li.
*Collect your ticket from reception 45 minutes before the event begins;
*Please no late entry;
*Seating is limited, and tickets must be collected individually;
*Please keep mobile devices on silent.
Our Marriages: Lesbians Marry Gay Men
Length: 42 min
Directors: He Xiaopei, Yuan Yuan
Cast: Xiao Xiong, Jing Jing, Ke Le, Shan Shan
Homosexuality has taken many forms in different cultures and times. As marriage and reproduction continue to be highly valued in traditional Chinese familial culture, some lesbians and gay men have adopted an unusual arrangement to alleviate such pressure. Consenting lesbians and gay men negotiate contract marriages with detailed terms and conditions for marriage. They carry out the wedding ceremonies for their families, and purportedly live as normal heterosexual couples to the unknowing eye.
How do lesbians negotiate their lives as lesbians and filial daughters? How are such contract marriages arranged? How do the couples navigate the complicated duties and obligations of married life? Our Marriages follows the negotiations, weddings, and lives of four lesbians for two years in a large city in Northeast China, documenting their maneuvers and problems. The film raises important questions and reflections in regard to the institution of marriage and homosexual life in contemporary Chinese society.
Yvo and Chrissy
Length: 60 min
Director: He Xiaopei
The film presents itself as a quest for identity, humanity, and happiness through the act of giving up the things that typically define us: wealth, property, stability, or the gender we are assigned at birth. The film follows two people from England, telling their stories in an attempt to inspire the ‘mainstream’ to rethink the way money, family, stability, gender, and sex are linked to well-being.
He Xiaopei (Director)
He Xiaopei was trained to be a shepherd in her youth, and mountaineer after college. A government job made her an economist, while the women’s movement and gender studies converted her into a feminist. Her experience organizing LBGTQ events in China compelled her to set up the Pink Space Sexuality Research Centre.
Yuan is an independent documentary filmmaker and graduate of Beijing Film Academy. She is a founding member of the Pink Space Sexuality Research Centre. Her works include: “Wedding Photographs on Qianmen Street for Same-sex Couples on Valentine’s Day” (Beijing, 2009), “Rural Women and Children with HIV” (China Pingyao International Photography Festival, 2011), “At This Moment, I Want to Be” (Special Mention at the 2013 Pride Photo Award), “The Lucky One” (26 mins), “Our Marriages” (81 minutes).
- Chinese with English subtitles