Part of the
exhibition

In the Presence of Absence proposals for the museum collection

5 Sep 2020 until 31 Jan 2021

Artist Page — 2 Sep 2020

In the Presence of Absence, the bi-annual show of proposals for the museum collection, presents 23 artists (collectives). This artist page includes a text on the work and an artist contribution.

What is elegance? What is it that makes us consider someone to be elegant? Elegance is often associated with grace, beauty, refinement, and charm, but ideas about exactly what elegance is, vary from person to person and from culture to culture. As part of Spreading Elegance (2019), Evelyn Taocheng Wang used Facebook to offer her own valuable items of clothing made by the French fashion house Agnès B in exchange for a handwritten letter from each recipient in which they explained through memories and stories what elegance means to them. 

The companion works Quoted Elegance No. 1-5 (2019) comprise parts of five of the letters displayed in the form of large banners. The use of each author’s handwriting in the pieces can be interpreted as a reference to Chinese calligraphy and the disappearance of such crafts due to digitization. The installation also includes the original handwritten letters that form the basis of this project, displayed on reading tables. Spreading Elegance combines traditional crafts with modern techniques, personal stories with collective memories, and references to East and West. Throughout her work, Wang investigates how the meaning of the body shifts according to culture and era, and the associated stigmas and opinions attached to identity and gender.

Illustration by Haitham Haddad after Evelyn Taocheng Wang’s “Spreading Elegance” and “Quoted Elegance No. 1-5,” both 2019.
Illustration by Haitham Haddad after Evelyn Taocheng Wang’s “Spreading Elegance” and “Quoted Elegance No. 1-5,” both 2019.

Evelyn Taocheng Wang (b. 1981) studied traditional Chinese art, Chinese literature, and graphic design at Nanjing Normal University in China, and went on to postgraduate studies at Städelschule in Frankfurt. She also attended De Ateliers in Amsterdam. Her artistic practice encompasses drawing, performance, and installation video. Wang’s work has been exhibited at FRAC Champagne-Ardenne in Reims, KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, and TENT Rotterdam. In 2017 her work was part of The Parliament of Bodies public program at Documenta 14 in Kassel. She is the winner of the 2016 Volkskrant Art Prize and the 2019 ABN AMRO Art Prize.

Evelyn Taocheng Wang, “Spreading Elegance,” 2019. A FRAC Champagne-Ardenne production. Photo: Martin Argyroglo. Courtesy the artists, Antenna Space, Shanghai; Carlos|Ishikawa, London and Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam.
Evelyn Taocheng Wang, “Spreading Elegance,” 2019. A FRAC Champagne-Ardenne production. Photo: Martin Argyroglo. Courtesy the artists, Antenna Space, Shanghai; Carlos|Ishikawa, London and Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam.

Artist Contribution