Yin Xiuzhen – Portable Cities

Making the most of airports, Beijing artist Yin Xiezhen is exhibiting two installations at the Sydney Biennale, Portable Cities and International Flight, and the Sydney Morning Herald spoke with her today.

Inspired by watching travellers claim their luggage at airports after overseas trips, Yin chooses to transport the work, which features buildings and houses stitched from underpants and other found clothing, like personal baggage.

In doing so, Yin says the work embodies the ideas, memories and experiences brought home metaphorically by travellers after a trip to another country.

The 41-year-old Chinese, one of the 51 artists featured in the Biennale of Sydney, has created Portable Cities – Guangzhou, Lisbon, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney, Wellington, a series of three-dimensional models of different cities housed inside six suitcases.

Yin dragged the six cases off the baggage carousel at Sydney Airport recently and presented it, scuffed and with travel tags prominently attached, as part of her biennale exhibit at the Art Gallery of NSW.


Speaking through an interpreter, Yin said her two works explored the way international travel increased people’s knowledge of other cultures and, as a result, brought change to their home cities. “In China, houses are changing to be more like American mansions,” she said. “They want big tall buildings rather than the traditional Chinese house. It is very sad. Because of globalisation, every city is beginning to look the same. Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore are like one identical city now.”