Yin Xiuzhen beside her work Black Hole (2010)

How was 2014 for Yin Xiuzhen?

Environmental change, bewilderment at human greed and a new art language all played a part in her work

Phaidon’s end-of-year interviews allow us to take in the annual changes within the cultural sphere through the words of our artists, photographers, chefs and authors. Yet some contributors work on much longer cycles. Steve McCurry has already mentioned this in a previous posting. Since the mid-1990s the Chinese artist Yin Xiuzhen has created environmental artworks in response to her country’s massive urban expansion programmes, addressing social, physical and cultural issues. Her best-known series, Portable Cities, features a number of suitcases containing miniature city models, made from discarded clothes once worn by the citizens of each place. These simple works nevertheless capture something of the human condition, as it has been lived for the past few years, and how it might well be lived for a few more yet.


Portable City (Hangzhou) (2011) byYin Xiuzhen
Portable City (Hangzhou) (2011) byYin Xiuzhen

What was the thing that inspired you most this year?

“Haze and pollution. We all live in such suffocating surroundings, but it is the usual situation; we have to face up to it.”

What was your personal working highlight this year?

“Continuing my Portable Cities series, focusing on the prevailing bewilderment which is caused by both the haze and the endless greed of human beings. I’ve also worked on my Sculptural Painting, Beauty is Poisonous series, and I have carried out some research into the interaction and integration between various cultures in the era of globalization.”

What can we expect from you in 2015?

“In 2015 I will continue to address the importance of global environmental issues as well as my own living conditions, while participating in some events to express concern for environmental deterioration and appeal to people to improve our current environment. I will also try to use some new art language in my practice.”

Order a copy of Yin Xiuzhen forthcoming monograph here.