SU HUI'S REVERSIBLE POEM (in progress)
a collaboration between artists Jen Bervin and Charlotte Lagarde
produced by Violet du Feng
video Installation (in progress)
Su Hui’s Reversible Poem is a five channel video installation in progress. It focuses on a poem written by Su Hui: 苏蕙, a Chinese poet in the 4th century. Her poem, "Xuanji Tu”: 璇玑图, can be read in many directions to yield nearly 8,000 possible readings. This collaboration between Jen Bervin and Charlotte Lagarde produced by Violet du Feng focuses on contemporary interdisciplinary Chinese women's perspectives on this complex poem.
Su Hui composed her poem in a 29 x 29 character grid embroidered or woven in five colors. The structure of her reversible poem references the cosmos; it is based on an early astronomical gauge invented in China to chart the movement of celestial bodies. Su Hui had one intended reader in mind for this multi-layered poem: her husband. In all versions of the story associated with it, Su Hui’s poem, both brilliant and effective, reunites the couple for life.
Su Hui’s Reversible Poem engages this poem as a literary work, as a textile, and as a form of community with a range of contemporary interdisciplinary perspectives that says just as much about female excellence in China today.
The research for this project is supported by a Lucas Artist Program Fellowship from Montalvo Arts Center, Bogliasco Foundation, and the Asian Cultural Council. It will premiere Fall 2020 at University Galleries at ISU, curated by University Galleries' director and chief curator Kendra Paitz, in an exhibition supported by an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.