Liu Juanhua, Game Series

Qipao 1Qipao 2

Liu Jianhua, Game Series, ceramic series, 61 x 61 cm. (24 x 24 in.), 2000.

During our study of the qipao in class, I saw the dress as a symbol of strong, independent women. Chinese women were able to wear a dress much more revealing, beautiful, and modern compared to their fashion styles before. However, as we closed our study on the topic, it seemed that these dresses were also desired by males for women to wear. Lui Jianhua, in 2000, came out with a series of ceramic plates pictured above. These plates are intricate pieces of art, but relay a sexualized message of Chinese women.

clarify “sexualized message”

On the plate lays a women, without arms or legs. In both she is surrounded by numbers of color and intricate beauty. On both plates the women is wearing a qipao. One matches the flowers laying below her, while the other stands out due to its metallic gold. Both have the same border which, in different colors, making it obvious that they are apart of the same collection. These pieces have very similar attributes, but its their message that is much more important. Lui Jianhua is sexualizing all Chinese women in the qipao by the underlying message he presents in his collection.

The women laying on the plate serves as a metaphor of women being served to anyone. It suggests that the these women are worthless and are meant to be served to males. The fact that they are without arms and a head supports the claim that they are sexualized figures. Jianhua is suggesting that it doesn’t matter what these women’s faces looks like, just that they are a body to be used. He also makes them seem helpless by leaving them armless. The color surrounding them guides the eyes of an observer to the bodies. The two women are laying in very different positions. The one on the left is without a shoe and is very suggestive in what would come next. However the women to the right is much more sexualized. She is wearing a metallic, glowing, gold dress with her legs spread open. There is nothing surrounding her, like in the other photo, it is just this woman laying on the plate ready to be served to a man.

The artistry in this collection is done very well, even though the message Jianhua is portraying is not a desired one. The qipao is very realistic. He obviously shows it is a qipao styled dress and does beautiful and realistic work with the folds of their dresses. Although both dresses are qipao the differences are definitely noticeable. The floral qipao is much shorter and with the flowers surrounding her makes her appear much more innocent. The metallic gold qipao is longer and deems the woman to be sophisticated.

From these images, I learned that although the qipao is a beautiful dress and much different from the fashions before, it has been sexualized through art such as these. It makes me question what women are wearing this dress and if they felt differently after this series came out. Overall, Jianhua raised many issues in his art and had me question the really beauty behind the qipao.

suggestions: first clarify the sexualized message, then explain how the artwork sexualize the female body in terms of qipao form, body position, color, and plate with focus on one component at a time