The Forgotten Daughters questions the notion of family and identity, revealing the wounds that tear at the heart of Chinese society in the aftermath of the one-child policy. The one-child policy, official program initiated in the late 1970s by the central government of China, the purpose of which was to limit the great majority of family units in the country to one child each. The clear packing tape is symbolic of identity, or lack there of. The suitcase represents the orphanage’s that were occupied with female infants.
My installation went through various iterations before its final form. I knew that I wanted to work with plastic duct tape as a material and to work around the human form. In the first few weeks I began experimenting with taping life-sized female mannequins, I created three, each varying in size, all female. I wasn’t completely impressed with the structure and form of the bodies as they began to distort with movement. I was also unsure how I would display them, I worked with projecting onto the bodies however the projected images were not coming through clearly. The projection experiment did create beautiful silhouettes of the bodies, and from this sparked my next iteration.
I decided to move away from the female body and use the form of an infant. I created eight plastic duct tape babies, the structures held their form as they were a condensed size. I strung four babies on two strings and hung them from the ceiling, I used a spotlight to experiment with shadows on a white backdrop. The shadows were crisp and clear and I knew I wanted to expand the work and create sixteen infants and use two spotlights. This resulted into my final work, although I wanted to push the work further by using audio. With this in mind, I decided to use a suitcase with a laptop/speaker inside playing a loop of a baby crying. This was to further imply the notion of orphanage’s and the abandonment of children in China.
The installation went through various phases and each iteration helped expand and perfect my final work. Throughout the creation process, I was heavily influenced by street artist/sculptor Mark Jenkins who also works with plastic duct tape in creating animals and figures that he places around cityscapes in order to questions the real from the fake. I was also very intrigued by the one-child policy as had studied it in an alternative class and this project seemed like the perfect platform to bring awareness and knowledge about this policy in an emotive way to an audience.