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Installation view of MA QIUSHA’s Gift, 2018–19, installation, engine, steel plate, explosion-proof glass, iron, leather, rubber, plastic, 3,564 × 1,620 × 1,527 cm, at “Tales of White Nights,” Beijing Commune, 2019. Courtesy the artist and Beijing Commune.

Ma Qiusha

The Chinese generation born in the 1980s had educational opportunities that their parents weren’t afforded due to decades of sociopolitical turmoil. The trade-off was that they were often pressured to fulfill their parents’ dreams. Such dynamics are reflected in Ma Qiusha’s video performance From No. 4 Pingyuanli to No. 4 Tianqiaobeili (2007), included in the group exhibition “Performing Society: The Violence of Gender” at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong (2/16–4/28). As Ma tells viewers about her family’s wish for her to have been a son, and her painful childhood piano lessons, her speech becomes increasingly strained. She eventually reveals a blade that had been hidden in her mouth, metaphorically conveying the pain she suppressed throughout her youth. A blade also appears in the video All My Sharpness Comes From Your Hardness (2011), shown at “Sound on the 4th Floor” (7/7–2/2/20) at Daimler Contemporary Berlin. Wearing a pair of ice skates that she appears to drag backward down a concrete road, Ma comments on how social forces shape individuals. 

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