Cynthia Chan Lok Si and Ann Guo Zi’an recently told The Macau Post Daily about their joint curation of a book exhibition titled “Take a Journey into the Barbie World through Books – Insights into Modern Women” at 10 Fantasia gallery.

The exhibition is co-hosted by 10 Fantasia and The Macanese Publishing Ltd., with Chan serving as an editor at the publishing company and Gou having previously worked there before pursuing a master’s degree in the United Kingdom. The exclusive interview was held at the company’s conference room in Zape.

Chan said that the project originated from Guo’s final project for her master’s degree in which she took an interest in Japanese feminist scholar Chizuko Ueno’s research on the development of East Asian feminism, delving into family structures, mother-daughter relationship patterns in the East Asian region, and the profound influence of patriarchy on East Asian mother-daughter relationships. “After some discussion, we decided through the book by The Macanese Publishing Ltd. about Ann’s topic and feminism to hold the exhibition,” she added.

According to Guo, she has been interested in family trauma due to her personal experiences and studies. She pointed out that despite society being more egalitarian than in the past, there are still hidden elements of inequality. “Female roles continue to dominate in the East Asian family structure, with expectations of being pure, caring, and family-orientated. On the other hand, men with extensive relationship experience are often respected, while women with complicated relationship histories are frowned upon,” she said.

Book exhibition

Three books published by The Macanese Publishing Ltd. are shown at the ongoing exhibition, and each of them is connected to feminism-related themes. In “Our Precious Moments,” author Coco Cheong Ut Man tenderly documents the moments of her upbringing by her grandmother since early childhood. Guo pointed out that one of the feminist issues exists within the realm of family, especially between older and younger generations. Each generation has a distinct perception of the world, often conflicting with one another. However, she insists that respecting and understanding the ideas of older females from the past is crucial. By acknowledging female history, progress can be made in the present.

The second book, “Psychological Analysis of Female Body Images” by Liu Ling, emphasises the essential role of a positive body image in women’s development of healthy self-awareness and self-esteem. Guo noted, “Only by loving one’s body can one truly become oneself, but this is easier said than done. Our bodies and reproductive systems are closely intertwined with social systems and their biases. Only when we start observing these relationships and paying attention to our bodies and their roles can we potentially change the situation for women and create more possibilities to make things better.”

For women and all individuals, Guo considered art to serve as a therapeutic agent, as described in the book “Art as a Therapeutic Agent” by Leong Man Long and Vincy Che. Through art, individuals can express their sincerest emotions and find healing in the process. Guo emphasised the importance of continuous questioning, exploration, and confrontation within art and feminism.

Chan, who was mainly responsible for setting up the exhibition, said that Guo’s inspiration and the recent Barbie movie, which contains many themes connected to feminist ideas, have varied resemblance. She said, “To make the exhibition captivating, we named it with Barbie in mind.”

At the far left end of the exhibition room, an interactive board called the “Healing Box” has been set up, inviting visitors to write down their therapeutic methods. “While books excel in providing complex ideas, short quotes or comments give a deeper impression to the visitors,” Guo said.

The curators have also organised a women’s discussion forum aimed at fostering deeper conversations and exploring historical aspects. Through these discussions led by female writers and professional scholars, they hope to fill the gaps in existing dialogues. Through collective efforts with the women of Macau, their goal is to achieve personal and collective growth.

The exhibition will run until December 31 and admission is free.

Interview by William Chan

【Macau Post】10 Fantasia gallery presents feminist-themed book exhibition