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Weining Cai

Weining Cai (Shanghai, China) is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Shanghai and London. Weining holds three MAs: Contemporary Art Practice from the Royal College of Art, UK (2020-2022), the University of Arts in Poznan, Poland(2019-2020), and Shanghai Normal University,China (2016-2019 included in a one-year exchange programme in Poland). Most of Weining's work focuses on sensitive topics such as Chinese politics and sexuality. She has been involved in various exhibitions and awards in China, Poland and the UK. The latest group exhibitions are the 10th International Drawing Exhibition - RYSOWAĆ∞. (Toruń, Poland, May 2022) and META group performance in Bermondsey Project Space (London, UK, April 2022). She joined the Art Association: Neue Slowenische Kunst in 2021 (NSK is a political art collective that formed in Slovenia in 1984. NSK members include groups IRWIN, Scipion Nasice Sisters Theatre, etc).

Show Location: Battersea campus: Studio Building, Second floor

Art is an inevitable part of Weining's life because of her sensitive intuition of art. She has always worked on different forms of artwork, focused on controversial topics such as Chinese politics and sexuality due to the art circumstances in her home country – China, which is relatively conservative. 

Artists are in charge of raising questions, not answering. As a third party outside of her motherland, China, she can view its issues in a more comprehensive way. However, she believes that the questions are not just from herself, but from a group of Chinese people. Sexuality is the other major part of her artwork. In the following series of works, she conveys feelings through black humour. The sex objects seem to be humorous and comedic. However, behind the meaning of the work, it reveals sex under a profound political background which causes people to think more deeply about this aspect. In the near future, she will continue to work on these topics.

Warning: This work contains mature or explicit content.

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No Food, No Honey
No Food, No Honey
No Food, No Honey
No Food, No Honey
No Food, No Honey
No Food, No Honey

The interpretation of the work can be addressed from two perspectives – politics and feminism.

Firstly, through the window of politics. As a Chinese, during my overseas experience, I noticed ideological contrasts among people from different cultural backgrounds. China, in comparison to Europe, is far more traditional and close-minded when it comes to sex and certain political views. In my work, the reason why I made a connection between food and sex is the special bond I have with rice - the staple food of the Chinese. Especially since the experience of living in European countries, rice is the most important food in my daily diet.

Interestingly, the Chinese cannot talk about sex openly in China. However, China has the largest population (1.4 billion) in the world. In this case, I suspect that there are millions of sexual activities happening in China every day, just like we eat rice every day, which fulfills the basic human needs which to eat.

It shows black humor in my artwork. Except for the comedic visual effect, the installation conveys a critical idea - No food, no honey, as a metaphor for sex.

In terms of feminism, my idea is to address the objectification of women. The visual effect of the sex objects are also metaphor of the objectification of women. Most of the time, women see themselves through the eyes and aesthetic judgment of men, such as charming, tender and sexy, so that women don't know how to see themselves through their own aesthetics. tights and rice are two crucial materials in my artwork. Tights are one of the women's lingerie and they are associated with ‘sexy’  to some extent. I use tights instead of using skirts, cosmetics, and other iconic feminine objects to represent women. As a Chinese, rice is the staple food for me, so I connected food to sex as a metaphor addressing the universality of sex. t is also an objectification of women's breasts in Chinese buns.

Childbearing has been taken for granted by women since ancient time. For example, in the Bible story - The Garden of Eden described when God heard that Adam and Eve had eaten the 'forbidden fruit', as punishment, God gave Eve the pain of childbirth and drove her into the human world. In the story, childbirth has been a woman’s responsibility since ancient times. How should females view themselves? Could they gid rid of males' gaze?

For the external link please check: https://youtu.be/dVHtd7LcrkA

performance video, please check: https://youtu.be/N1y0FN6ogY8

Medium:

Installation

Size:

variable size

Warning: This work contains mature or explicit content.

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Crazy Diner
Crazy Diner
Crazy Diner
Crazy Diner
Crazy Diner

We all know in the animal world, there is sexual cannibalism. For instance, a male mantis would dedicate his life to his lover after sex; a male spider is filled with exhaustion immediately after ejaculation. Animality is humanity. What if it happens to human beings? It is an interesting, philosophical question: between the individual value and reproduction/sex pleasure, which one do men think that is more important? If a man chooses to have sex, he will die, but his genes can be continuous. On the other hand, without sex, he could live longer and prove his personal values but no genetic continuity. All humans have desires and not only for lust. Sexuality is only the reflection of desire, not the initiation of desire.


Medium:

video
The Advertisement of Sexless Condoms

In the video of Advertisement of Sexless Condoms, I'm exploring different ways to play with condoms. Playing with condoms is what teenage boys do when they discover their sexuality. However, in China, sexuality is taboo - and people cannot talk about it in public, although China has the largest population in the world. Citizens can buy condoms from any convenient shops in China, but there's nobody telling us the functionality of it. We can't see condoms ads on TV because it is not decent to be shown to kids. It shows the hidness of condoms. On the other hand, due to medical health and birth control, condoms are necessary to be used. It is ironic. What is more, the colorful background is a metaphor for LGBT. What is the meaning of sex for them? Sexual behaviors might not be so important to some of them.


Medium:

video
Water the Plant
Water the Plant

The video shows a condom was used by watering a plant. I'm exploring different ways to play with condoms through the comedic performance.

Medium:

performance
What Do I Want To Say To You (detail)
What Do I Want To Say To You (detail)
What Do I Want To Say To You (detail)
What Do I Want To Say To You (detail)

Art is a part of my life. When I arrived in the UK, I began to collect my personal data of living on this island. I didn’t know it would become my artwork. The act was just an artist's intuition.

My work expresses the cultural and political differences between my home country, China, and the UK, such as strike, Chinese vaccine, asymmetric news etc.

For example, I have a Chinese vaccine. However, it wasn’t accepted in the West until April this year. What caused this situation? Some say the Chinese vaccine has not gone through phase III clinical trials; Some say this is a political game between China and the West.

There is a lot of negative news on China in the West. For a specific topics, the positions of the global social media and China mainland media are completely different. Some of my Western peers think that Chinese citizens are struggling living in China, and they can’t understand many policies announced by the Communist Party. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the total opposite political position. Even though I am absent from my home country.

I feel that art is a remedy for my wound. I could place my narratives in my work, but not excessively. I leave some space for the viewers to speculate and gain an understanding by themselves. I do not need to be fully understood. As long as I put my artwork in a gallery, the importance of my personal ideas diminishes. What is important is that the emotion of my work inspires the audience in different ways depending on their personal experience.

Because all the data and the information are the latest at the time of creation, but information and policies change over time. For example, I was working on the Chinese vaccine not being accepted in the West. When I planned to move further, the border crossing policies suddenly changed. Western countries started to accept CINOVAC and Sinopharm vaccine. At that moment, I felt confused. Should I move on with this topic or not? But this is life. This is reality. This is what happens in my daily life. I then quickly noticed that even though the CINOVAC and Sinopharm vaccine have been accepted by most European countries, we still do not have an EU vaccine QR code. The problem still remains. Finally, I got a Modena booster to end the trouble. I was trying to record the experience of the Chinese vaccine, but the situation was constantly changing was quite interesting for me.

So what about the life of tomorrow? Every day is a drama in a loop.

In the future, I will continue to move on with political and sensitive topics because I experience these every day. There are so many different voices being thrown at me, I need to express my own thoughts. What is the understanding of historical and contemporary debate, and how does it relate to my practice? In the process of my creation, some of the policies and data would become history over time, but it is a record of what they once were. They are the best evidence of how time has changed and how people’s thoughts have changed.

Medium:

video / installation

Size:

variable size
White Mask
White Mask
White Mask
White Mask
White Mask
White Mask

Artist peeled off my skin as a metaphor for taking off white masks. Asians appreciate their white skin a lot, but Asian should be confident in their ethnicity. Peeling off the white mask is to show the inner confidence to be an Asian.

Medium:

performance
Shred of Life 01
Shred of Life 02
Shred of Life 03

The news is highly asymmetric between mainland China media and global social media. I printed the negative news about China from global social media on paper - their existence became physical and available. However, it should not exist in the light in this part of the world. I tore these printings, soaked them in a washing machine, then I took the photo of the scene.

Painting is a traditional method. In China, artists mainly use the media of painting to present their ideas not any other media. I used a realistic technique, but it’s not as realistic as the reality. Something must be blurred or reshaped during the process.

Hand-making objects are more subjective. The appearance of the items derives from the inner selves of the makers. The process of painting for painters is a resemblance to the news reported on different social media. Something can be seen, and something else lies in the shadow.


Medium:

painting

Size:

70×90cm
一叶障目 Yi Ye Zhang Mu 01
一叶障目 Yi Ye Zhang Mu 02

The title of the work is Yi Ye Zhang Mu. It is a Chinese idiom. The literal meaning is covering someone’s eyesight with a leaf. It’s a way of not seeing others, as well as not being seen by others. This idiom is for criticizing self-righteous ideas.

In my photography, the person hiding their head in a tree blurred their identity. Creatures tend to be camouflaged in the surroundings to stay safe. The predators camouflage themselves to catch prey. vice versa, the preys disguise themselves to not get caught by their predators. What if I camouflage myself in society? Camouflaging is a way to lose my sense of boundaries so that I lost the sense between what I am and what I'm not so that my way of integrating myself into the landscape of a cityscape is to disappear. I thought I successfully camouflaged in society. However, the eye-catching white shirt had me realize that I’m not.


Medium:

photography installtion

Size:

40×65cm
Communication 01
Communication 02
Communication 03
Communication 04
Communication 05
Communication 06
Communication 07

The cosmos is an unimaginable space whose measure is the speed of light. Light travels 299,792,458 meters per second. The diameter of the observable universe is approximately 92 billion light-years. In this universe, somewhere you and I are. In my work, I try to express the mystery of the universe and the mystery of universal existence. Black expresses the cosmos, transparent forms symbolizing beings in space. They try to connect with others through the thread of understanding.

Thanks to this our civilization exists, and thanks to this we exist.


Medium:

photogram

Size:

variable size
Decomposition 01
Decomposition 02
Decomposition 03
Decomposition 04
Decomposition 05
Decomposition 06

Decomposition created by the technique of photogram, which is a way to do photography without a camera. I was working in a darkroom and put objects on light-sensitive paper; then, the light came down on the photo paper.

Decomposition is a way of changing the original form into a new one. It is like war -it decomposes our world and our life. The images lose their forms, but new forms like blasts bring a new abstraction. It is attractive but dangerous. Decomposition as a new attractive form, rebirth from the destroyed previous one.


Medium:

photogram

Size:

variable size