Amy Suo Wu
Thursday, 21 February, 6–8pm
22 February – 10 March
Amy Suo Wu in conversation with Sydney arts writer Soo-Min Shim.
When | Saturday, 23 February 4–5pm
Where | Ideas Platform, Artspace
Part-shop, part-sewing workshop and part-exhibition, Amy Suo Wu’s Thunderclap premieres in Australia over the course of two weeks in Artspace’s Ideas Platform. Thunderclap employs steganography to publicly redistribute the erased work of Chinese anarcho-feminist He-Yin Zhen (1886–1920) through the medium of clothing accessories.
Steganography is the art and science of hiding in plain sight – a form of secret writing that disguises hidden information in public to evade surveillance, censorship and control. Thunderclap co-opts Shanzhai fashion, a Chinese phenomenon that features nonsense English together with QR code as a covert system to publish sensitive knowledge originally designed for a Chinese context. Wu’s ribbons and embroidered patches contain translated English quotes from He-Yin’s essays, nested around a QR code. When passersby scan this code they can download her original Chinese writing. The work takes advantage of the use of English as ornamentation in this context, staging the aestheticisation of a foreign language as a steganographic medium. In a similar way, the visual pervasiveness of the QR code inadvertently provides guileless cover for knowledge to spread.
Through the use of these ‘politically harmless’ accessories, knowledge of He-Yin – considered too radical in her lifetime – can circulate and her work can avoid further erasure from historical records. Embedding these contemporary textiles with quotes from largely forgotten feminist texts, Wu’s embodied publishing reinstates He-Yin’s writing back into the public arena.
Visitors can purchase Thunderclap accessories onsite and the artist will sew them onto items brought in from home, inviting us to embody He-Yin’s texts.
The artist will be in the Ideas Platform at the following times, be sure to bring your clothing items:
Thursday, 21 February 6–8pm
Saturday, 23 February 11am–4pm
Sunday, 24 February 11am–5pm
Saturday, 2 March 11am–5pm
Saturday, 9 March 11am–4pm
In the days Wu is not in the Ideas Platform she will be working in her mum’s shop, Jenny’s Alterations & Dry Cleaning, located at 323 Glebe Point Road. As the shop is a service- based business, the artist will be of service to her mum and be embedded in her daily routine to explore the embodied processes of service, intimacy, care and hospitality through actions of mending, healing, repairing, cleaning and alteration.
25 February – 1 March and 4–8 March, 9am–5pm
Thunderclap was originally developed at I: project space, Beijing. Its Australian presentation is supported by I: project space, the Feminist South project (Kelly Doley, Antonie Angerer and Anna Eschbach), Jenny's Alterations & Dry Cleaning and the Creative Industries Fund NL.
More information about the project:
Amy Suo Wu was born in China, grew up in Australia and is practising in The Netherlands as an artist and designer. Her practice explores how to amplify, preserve and (re)activate obscured histories in critical and playful ways. Since 2014, Wu has explored steganography, a form of secret writing that hides information within public information. Her ongoing research, Tactics and Poetics of Invisibility, revives the use of the obsolete, low-tech and analogue steganography. Its purpose is to subvert digital surveillance, bypass censorship and provide visibility to the struggles of minorities and other marginalised cultures.
Wu has co-organised the annual zine festival Zine Camp in Rotterdam. She holds a Masters in Media Design and Communication from Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. She was awarded the Grant programme for Talent Development from Creative Industries Fund NL, as well as two studio residences at I: project space in Beijing and ZKU in Berlin. Recent solo and group exhibitions have been held at Drugo More, Croatia; Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana; Seoul Mediacity Biennale; Espace Multimédia Gantner, France; and I: project space Beijing. She is currently a tutor in experimental publishing at Piet Zwart Institute and cultural diversity at Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam.
Soo-Min Shim is an arts writer and worker living on stolen Gadigal land. She received her Bachelor of Art History and Theory (Honours) from the University of Sydney and is currently a Director at Firstdraft Gallery. Her research interests are focused around contemporary Asian art and she has written for several Australian and international publications including Art & The Public Sphere, The Artling, Art + Australia, Art Almanac, Runway Conversations, un Extended and Running Dog.