The visual artists Cai Yaling (China), Zhou Yujie (China/Finland), and Magdalena Kallenberger (Germany) explore motherhood, multiple female identities, and matrilineal thread from an intergenerational perspective and, through photography, installation, and textile work, create rich visual dialogues not only across generations but also cultures and nationalities.
In the line »I made you to find me« from the poem The Double Image (1981), poet Anne Sexton speaks directly to her daughter while acknowledging the confusion and complexity of motherhood. Who is looking for whom? Where to look and how? Who has been found? What is lost?
The starting point of the exhibition project is the concept of ›feminist mothering‹ and how it manifests as a subject in artistic practice. Three visual artists explore motherhood, multiple female identities, and matrilineal threads from an intergenerational perspective, creating rich visual dialogues not only across generations but also cultures and nationalities.
Cai Yaling is one of the first generation that grew up under China’s one-child policy and gave birth to two children after the policy was relaxed. Her multiple identities reconcile with each other and finally rest on a powerful ›maternal gaze‹ that naturally takes shape within her artistic practice. Working with corporeal and sensory quotidian materials, Yaling abstracts matrilineal tenderness, cries of motherhood, and repetitive care labor. The artist-mother thus finds herself moving more freely within the realm of her maternal ambivalence.
How did the family’s past fade away? How can we retrieve matrilineal memories? Zhou Yujie, as a daughter/granddaughter/great-granddaughter, retraces vivid moments from the lives of four generations of women in her family. Yujie digs into their entwined female identities and reanimates family memories through photographs and installations, uncovering unrecorded voices and the common thread between four generations.
Magdalena Kallenberger continues her practice of including her child directly in her art. In the photograph We tried, but did not succeed (2023), Magdalena and her son positioned themselves head-to-head, assuming a push-up position amidst the backdrop of a volcano and patches of snow. Is the harsh natural environment a metaphor for the potential heaviness and bitterness experienced in motherhood? Does mirroring each other’s movements hint at the intersubjectivity implicit within the mother-child relationship that could be more supportive, fragile, intense, and assertive, encompassing a wealth of richness and complexity?
Against the backdrop of feminist mothering, I Made You to Find Me thus invites (m)others, (non)mothers, daughters, caregivers, and more to imagine both the spatial and temporal paths to “finding” as well as the myriad possibilities of “being found.”
curator: Li Yang
artists: Cai Yaling (China), Zhou Yujie (China/Finland), Magdalena Kallenberger (Germany)