Originally from Shanghai, Jiaxin came to the United States as young photographer to pursue a career in the art world. Having grown up in a primarily communist country, he was nonetheless introduced to the American Dream as an emerging ideal of Chinese culture. Living in the United States since 2005, Miao is aware of the existing disparities within certain sectors of the American population--in particular recent immigrants--for whom these dreams remain elusive. The work in this exhibition questions our notion of freedom in our extremely corporate and legislated society, which threatens to limit individual potential.
Miao Jiaxin’s performances have included placing himself nude in the winter night landscape of New York City; traveling in a suitcase through Shanghai pulled by his mother; or dressing in full business attire during his MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The “News” performance builds on universal existential themes in his earlier work to specifically address a personal immigrant narrative in the context of economically driven politics and culture. Miao will perform alone against the large wall of the gallery surrounded by four surveillance cameras, implementing daily routines as metaphors for the tension of the individual consciousness within oppressive social constructs.
The two video works, “Lunch Break Soccer Game,” and “Laundromat,” are presented on flat screens in the rear gallery. Shot from the perspective of surveillance cameras, these scenes of seemingly mundane activities in semi-public spaces nonetheless depict personal activities, such as washing clothes and playing sports. In “Laundromat,” the further act of removing clothes that are washed prompts the building doorman to request the performer cover himself. In “Lunch Break Soccer Game,” a moment of play is actually just a brief respite in the workday of an otherwise grueling labor environment and only permitted under strict guidelines