The Direction of Migration (Diptych), 2019
cyanotype on paper
3307 x 94.5 inches
Courtesy of the Artist
The starting point of Han Qin’s cyanotype series on the theme of immigration was her journey from the “water city” of Hangzhou, where she attended a prestigious art academy, to Long Island. During most of her first year in America, with an infant son, she felt quite lost until one morning she watched a bird nesting under the eaves of a neighbor’s house. Recalling her fellow passengers on the flight over from China, who scattered upon arrival at JFK to seek new homes, she saw their dispersion as part of an evolutionary pattern. The suite of scrolls titled Ethereal Evolution was made with the collaboration of friends who emigrated. They assumed dance-inspired poses on huge sheets of rice paper (for “Chinese flavor”) washed with a solution to enhance the mysterious transitions from cyan to blue-purple as the rays of the sun project their shadows into it. The artist, who danced professionally, has also choreographed a ballet based on these works to be presented during the exhibition, just as Klein included a ballet with his “anthropometries”—both artists imprint bodies in motion on a one-to-one scale. The range of movement in Han Qin’s process is as simple as a figure in fetal position rolling slowly across the length of a sheet to the gyrations of an arabesque.
The colorful characters whose silhouettes remain anonymous candidly mix uncertainty with aspiration in quick, understated diary sketches that evade cliché because they are so personal. One, nicknamed “Big Dog,” is a native of Quzhoug who arrived temporarily in Hangzhou to do graffiti after stops Liuzhou, Jinhua and Myanmar: “Settling down in Hangzhou, with a feeling of deep-water phobia along a riverbed. Stopping at a place makes me nervous, always wanting to eat the dust outside. This is like a shoal of migrating fish chasing a warm current.” The artist’s own entry: “Travel for a dream. A split second of retrospection and homesickness. Will I be forever a stranger?”