About the book

This collection of profiles celebrates the artistic achievements of sixteen visionary women from a region of surprisingly diverse cultures despite their geographical proximity. From literary figures like Nieh Hualing and dance icons like Yang Meiqi, to bold contemporary artists Yin Xiuzhen and Lulu Hou, their creativity covers a wide range of literary, visual and performing arts. These courageous women often had to defy cultural expectations in order to heed their artistic drive. Their artworks delve into the social realities of their times, and their personal stories provide an intimate portrait of the historical trajectory of Greater China over three generations. Written by journalists and scholars with deep knowledge of the arts in Asia, and richly illustrated with images of art and historical events, the collection reveals the vibrance of women’s art in the region.

The profiled artists:

NIEH HUALING, born in Wuhan, China, is the author of more than two dozen books of fiction, critical essays and English translations. In 1967, along with her husband Paul Engle, she established the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, which was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.

聶華苓,小說作家,被華人尊稱為「文壇國寶」。她於1967年在愛荷華大學與當時健在的丈夫保羅·安格爾共同創辦了「國際寫作計劃」。

LIAO WEN is an arts writer, critic and curator, whose unerring eye for emerging artists and trends helped to shape Chinese contemporary art. She curated one of the earliest exhibitions of Chinese women’s contemporary art (in 1995) and introduced a pioneering Chinese look at feminism in art with her book No More Nice Girls (2002).

廖雯,藝術作家與評論家,北京宋莊東籬藝術中心創辦人及策展人。1995年,廖雯策劃了中國第一批女性藝術展,2002年出版《不再有好女孩》,以前沿的中國視覺觀察70年代美國女性主義藝術。

CANDACE CHONG is a prolific, award-winning Hong Kong playwright, whose timely plays have captured the essence of the sui generis Hong Kong identity. Written in Cantonese, her works have resonated deeply with a new generation of theatergoers in Hong Kong.

莊梅岩,香港年輕一代最有成就的劇作家,她的作品關注當代社會敏感的社會和政治問題,引起年輕戲劇觀眾深深的共鳴。她新近的劇作《杜老誌》由毛俊輝執導,在香港獲得好評。

YIN XIUZHEN is a leading contemporary artist in China whose installations have been exhibited in major museums across the world. Using recycled materials, she explores issues of globalization and seeks to preserve a memory of disappearing lifestyles resulting from excessive urbanization and development.

尹秀珍,來自北京的國際知名藝術家,她的作品曾在世界各地的主要博物館展出。她使用回收材料探討全球化和過度城市化所帶來的問題。

CHOI YAN CHI is an installation artist, painter, educator and cultural advocate, who has helped to build contemporary art in Hong Kong for more than thirty years. She was a pioneer of new art forms, from installation to cross-media performance, and founded one of the city’s first independent art spaces.

蔡仞姿,裝置與概念藝術家,在香港當代藝術三十多年發展中發揮了至關重要的作用。她是新藝術形式的先驅──從裝置、跨媒體表演到創立香港第一個獨立藝術空間1a space。

LULU HOU is a conceptual artist, scholar and educator, whose works raise awareness about the realities of marginalized people in Taiwan society. In recent years she has expanded her portfolio to include the preservation of architectural and cultural heritage in southern Taiwan.

侯淑姿,概念藝術家與攝影師,她的作品喚起了台灣社會對邊緣群體現實的認識,包括越南郵購新娘和台灣眷村居民。

JAFFA LAM is a Hong Kong artist who specializes in the creation of large-scale, site-specific works, mixed-media sculptures and installations, usually made with salvaged materials such as crate wood, old furniture and recycled fabric. Lam’s art involves and reflects strong elements of community, connection and collaborative processes.

林嵐,香港藝術家,她的作品關注社區聯繫與公共合作。擅長製作大型混合媒介雕塑作品及裝置,採用的主要為回收再用的物料。

YANG LINA is an award-winning filmmaker based in Beijing. A pioneer among contemporary Chinese directors, her unflinching documentaries have illuminated the plights of China’s marginalized, including women, children and the elderly.

楊荔納,屢獲殊榮的電影導演,其果敢的紀錄片聚焦中國邊緣群體,包括婦女、兒童和老人的困境。她的第一部長片《春夢》榮獲2013年香港國際電影節特別關注獎。

BUN-CHING LAM is one of a growing number of Chinese women composers who are active on the international stage. A daughter of Macau, she is a passionate student of Chinese art, literature and aesthetics. Lam’s music is beyond East or West, dissolving boundaries to become an art that is truly representative of today’s interconnected world.

林品晶,少數登上國際舞台的女作曲家之一。生於澳門,她打破疆界的創作風格真實地體現了緊密聯繫的當今世界。

WANG XINXIN is a master performer of the musical genre called Nanguan. Originally from Fujian, she founded the Xinxin Nanguan Ensemble in Taipei in 2003 and performs traditional repertoire as well as contemporary adaptations of Chinese poetry and Buddhist sutra.

王心心,南管音樂大師,該音樂流派可追溯至兩千多年前。作為現在台灣音樂的代表人物,王心心演繹傳統作品以及中國詩歌和佛經的現代改編,保存了此藝術形式的精髓。

TIAN MANSHA is a master performer of chuanju (Sichuan opera) and a creator, teacher and director of xiqu, or traditional Chinese opera forms. Her repertoire includes classical pieces, Shakespeare adaptations, contemporary commissions and avant-garde xiqu works.

田蔓莎,川劇表演大師,也是將傳統藝術形式與現代實驗劇場結合的先驅。她的代表作《馬克白夫人》和《死水微瀾》在世界多地巡演。

WU NA is a virtuoso performer and teacher of the guqin, an ancient stringed instrument that dates back nearly 3,000 years. Her personal and musical mission is to create a contemporary voice for the guqin, one that has relevance in today’s China and beyond, while still preserving the instrument’s core spiritual and aesthetic values.

巫娜,古琴演奏家,她的曲目從三千年前的古曲到與搖滾、爵士音樂家合作的實驗作品。

YANG MEIQI, a renowned dance artist and educator, established China’s first modern dance troupe, the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, in 1992. Yang, who has been called the “Mother of Modern Dance in China,” nurtured the first and second generations of modern dance choreographers in China and is the leading force behind modern dance education.

楊美琦,中國第一個現代舞團即廣東實驗現代舞團的創始人,培養了兩代現代舞蹈編舞家。她是推廣中國大學舞蹈教育的領導力量。

PISUI CIYO is an award-winning choreographer, performer and educator born into the Atayal tribe in Taiwan. Her works of multimedia dance theater combine traditional indigenous art forms with Flamenco and modern performance art to create an expression of the contemporary indigenous artist.

碧斯蔚·梓佑,出生在台灣泰雅族部落的屢獲殊榮的編舞家。她的多媒體舞劇作品將本土藝術形式與現代表演相結合,為當代本土藝術家發聲。

MUI CHEUK YIN, a modern dance choreographer based in Hong Kong, is one of the leading dance-makers in East Asia today. She performed as principal dancer with the Hong Kong Dance Company for a decade and has created more than fifty works for ensembles in Asia, Europe and North America.

梅卓燕,亞洲首屈一指的後現代編舞家之一。她為亞洲、歐洲和北美的舞蹈團創作了超過50個作品,包括2000年由皮娜·鮑什委約編創的《花落知多少》。

WEN HUI is a choreographer, actor, documentary filmmaker and founder of Living Dance Studio, which became China’s first independent dance theater collective in 1994. She has choreographed more than twenty groundbreaking multimedia productions that have toured the world.

文慧,中國第一位後現代編舞家,於1994年創立「舞蹈工作室」。她的編創跨越不同藝術領域,影片《聽三奶奶講過去的事情》在2015年威尼斯雙年展上亮相。

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Praise for Creating Across Cultures

  • Creating Across Cultures: Women in the Arts from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan is an indispensable resource for anyone seeking to understand the dynamism underpinning what some are calling the Chinese Century. In these portraits of sixteen extraordinary women, whose achievements in art, dance, literature, music, and theater have profoundly shaped contemporary aesthetic, cultural, and social discourses, we glimpse worlds upon worlds, any one of which may change the very ways in which we make meaning of our time on earth. This is a treasure.

    Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and author of Self-Portrait with Dogwood
  • Is there ‘something unexplained about women that only a woman can explain’ (to rephrase Georgia O’Keeffe’s statement into a question)? Under its chief editor, also a woman—Michelle Vosper, who was Director of the Hong Kong Arts Program at the Asian Cultural Council for 25 years—Creating Across Cultures explains it vividly and movingly. I find the life stories of these artists as fascinating as their ebullient creations. In particular, Vosper has done a most remarkable and touching portrait of the source of inspiration for them all—the inimitable Nieh Hualing.

    Leo Ou-fan Lee, The Sin Wai Kin Professor of Chinese Culture at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and author of Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930–1945
  • My heart is so full of joy reading this book. Creating Across Cultures is the result of many years of meticulous research, and it comprehensively documents the achievements of female aesthetics through the work of these important artists. The writing is also about real lives, their loves and struggles. Readers will connect with concrete life experiences that no abstract theories should replace.

    Eva K. W. Man, author of Bodies in China: Philosophy, Aesthetics, Gender and Politics

From the introduction

The ability to bounce back is a universal element in these stories. Sichuan opera performer Tian Mansha, for example, entered her chosen field as a latecomer and suffered one rejection after another before finding her own way. She never viewed these setbacks as reasons to give up.

Read on

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About the editor

Dorothy Tse portrait

Editor Michelle Vosper directed the work of 11 outstanding cultural journalists and Asia scholars to create the book's 16 profiles. Michelle spent 25 years as the Asian Cultural Council Representative in Hong Kong, overseeing an extensive program of fellowships for leading Asian artists to pursue advanced training, research and creative work in the United States. She is now an independent writer and editor specializing in Asian arts and culture, and lives on a farm in rural New Jersey with her family.

More about Michelle Vosper