The Macau New Woman Contemporary Art Exhibition, organized by the New Woman Development Association of Macao and sponsored by The Cultural Affairs Bureau. We were there to witness the power of all genders united in an event showcasing the works of six female artists with connections to Macau in some way. We also had the opportunity to chat with both the association’s Vice President, Annya Lai, and Korean artist living in the city, MJ Lee.
This event–which the organizers want to have on a yearly basis–discusses the power of women, their place in the world and promotes the empowerment of different genders working together. For MJ Lee, minorities also have a voice that needs to be heard, hence, exhibited. Artists were asked what it means to be a woman and what the word “woman” means itself, so MJ Lee created a genderless figure. Sculptures, paintings, contemporary installations, and some other pieces were the focus of this showcase. The New Woman Development Association of Macao has been organizing and putting together a series of different events with the aim of showing the population that gender is just a word and empowerment can come in so many different ways.
Inspiration and exploration
According to Annya Lai, the association’s Vice President and one of the exhibition’s curators, the Macau New Woman Contemporary Art Exhibition is about inspiring women of all ages and backgrounds in Macau to really try to explore their limitations and finding their ways and what they want to do in the future along with exploring their abilities.
The theme for this year’s exhibition was “WM” which stood for “women” and the meaning of “We”, as a collective; and “M” stands for Macau. The aim was to send the message that we–no matter if female or male–as human beings, can achieve great things together and that gender doesn’t have to be a differentiating factor. The exhibition wants to show people that Macau is a blessed land when it comes to cultivating amazing female and male artists as well. Macau is also a constant source of inspiration for these artists due to the culture here which is a combination of Chinese and western traditions making it unique in a way that inspires artists and people in general, to do better.
The New Woman Development Association of Macao itself is very young, but its founding is to inspire the younger generation and show people Macau’s potential. With this theme and mission along with the exhibition, the association looks forward to young artists showing up and showcasing their works.
Besides this annual exhibition, they are now trying to plan a festival to take place next year. It’ll be on female empowerment and inspiring women to reach further. Another activity planned is a reading sharing session, where guests are invited from different places of the Greater Bay Area to come to Macau and share one of their female idols in literature.
MJ Lee moved to Macau three years ago and at her studio, the South Korean artist focuses essentially on sculpture but also explores the realms of video, installation, performance, and painting. We took a moment with MJ Lee who spoke about what it means to be a woman and how she believes she can contribute to a better world, from an artistic perspective.
Why do you think it’s important that there are exhibitions specially showing art made by women?
The world art scene is mostly dominated by men, so I believe this kind of initiative is a great starting point to keep women on the map. It’s important that female artists join forces, as well as for minorities, as myself. I am part of a minority living in Macau and I feel that this kind of event brings these groups together.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I love connecting with other people and I believe that’s were my inspiration truly comes from. When I meet new people, we exchange ideas and thoughts, which can have a good or a bad outcome, but it’s usually a good one.
Do you feel like this event created a space for further collaborations?
Yes, I think so. I specialized in 3D Sculpture and when I meet artists who work with other formats such as paint or ceramists, I feel more inspired and can learn from them, getting lots of insights.
How much time did it take you to make your piece in this exhibition?
Almost three weeks, I created it specifically for this exhibition!
What is it inspired by?
When they told me the theme which centered around “women”, it got me really thinking about what it means to be a woman, what the word means. If they’re referring to it in a physical or more abstract sense. The figure I did is very ambiguous, it’s undefined. I want it to be whatever people see when they look at it. It has no gender, it has no face. I want viewers to think that you are what you see.
What do you see in it?
I see the materials and textures. I wanted it to be undefined, to show that women can be anything. Part of a minority, for example.
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