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Contemporary Art Practice (MA)

Ge Tang

the main mud doll
The sculpture has strong patriarchal overtones and a fervent desire for a male heir. You can find this kind of fat baby in Chinese traditional culture or festivals all the time. The rooster is also a symbol which has the meaning of fertility( especially son), courage and authority.
All the statues are double-sided, which represents the conservative Chinese aesthetic. We don't express the desire for a male heir directly, but if you go to the back of these idols, you will feel the desire for a male heir more directly. Like the legend of Nuwa, people in my hometown believe that clay figures can pray for children. Each clay sculpture represents a wish for a child.
The statue of two handmaids was unearthed from a tomb in the late Northern Wei Dynasty. Since the fertility goddess I studied was born in the early Northern Wei Dynasty, I blended this sculptural form with elements of Tibetan Buddhism. You can see Shmashana on the head of one maid, which symbolizes the inevitable future of death. It also heralds the princess's death. The statue of the maid represents the princess herself, a metaphor derived from the structural techniques of classical fiction.
palm idol
apple boy
Taoist elementsTaoist elements
Taoist elements
Buddhist element
Buddhist element
 red boy
The secret of being immortal on the idol
Nie Zha
A contemporary image of a boy, based on contemporary cartoons
A contemporary image of a boy, based on contemporary cartoons
Qing Dynasty doll
modelled after an antique
Qing Dynasty doll 2
modelled after an antique

Ge Tang majored in Drawing & Painting and On-Screen Media at OCAD University as an undergraduate. Due to her major, she is accustomed to creating works by taking oil paintings, films, sounds, installation, and their combined forms as media. She's an artist who is inclined to focus on female narrative and feminism. Because of her long experiences growing up in different cultures, she likes to pay attention to the environment she lives in her art practice. By observing the different forms of male-dominated society in different regions or environments as well as the issue of women’s identity in them, she creates works by combining research with practice. 

During her study at RCA, she delves into the research on female narratives. Taking “Shentou Town” as a starting point, She studies the embodiment of women’s identity in the highly male-dominated areas under the background of fragmented rural economic development and population loss in China and analyzes the women’s identity in regions that are flooded with lots of fertility myths and beliefs in the folk.

personal picture

Before making these sculptures my graduation creations, they existed as props for my films. However, in the process of making these sculptures, I really gained insight into Chinese folk beliefs and their rituals. I no longer do these things for the sake of making a work of art, they become real, functional idols. I was often immersed in the process of making these clay dolls as if I really had the magic power to create life, like Nuwa. (the great mother goddess in China myth)

I had acquired a new identity, a craftsman or maybe a woman praying for a son, but no longer an artist.