Nathalie daoust, canada

Contact: On request



Images printed on 33x33 cm ceramic tiles

Large prints 180x180cm

China dolls forms a body of work that serves as a perspective on the young women of China, struggling to find their identity in a rapidly changing country. Caught in a transitory state, the women are now uprooting themselves from their former constraints. Daoust as a photographer attempts to capture this moment acknowledging the mourning of the past with the emergence of a new generation, while establishing all the uncertainties and possibilities that lie in between. 

Fleeting and delicate the work delves further attempting to shed light on the role of women in 21st century China. Up until the Communist Revolution, there was a prominent male domination in Chinese society while women maintained a subservient, dutiful role. Despite Mao Zedong lifting the oppression of women during the tumultuous revolution, women’s liberation in China has remained very much an ideology as Confucian culture and its strict obligatory gender roles remain deeply rooted among the people. In this series of portraits Daoust has sought to pay homage to these women who have long remained in the shadows. The duplicitous elements indicative of her work are evident; strength/weakness, fantasy/reality, beauty/vulgarity, past/future – her subjects wrestle with both notions settling somewhere in-between. As their stories and emotions unfold through their expressions, the women reveal a clear sense of the past and tradition, however there is also a suggestion a new contemporary woman emerging, coming into focus and out of the shadows, bridging the continuum between past and present.

Printed on 500 ceramic tiles, positioned on both the walls and the floor, the intention strives to imbue the viewer with a sense of intrigue and curiosity thus inviting them to participate further. As the viewer moves about the space they are outnumbered and surrounded by the women at every angle, an indication of the women’s increasing presence in China’s burgeoning global identity. The ceramic tiles also re-enforces the notion of the ‘China Doll’ fragile and delicate, reflecting the current situation for the women of China and the care that is needed to ensure their role in their countries future. While they still have an arduous task to confront, they are the ones who are about to play an unprecedented role in modern China.

- Nathalie Daoust