Thunderclap Artist Talk

Artist Talk by Amy Suo Wu

Artist: Amy Suo Wu
Date: 05. 22, 2017
Location: I: project space

“Thunderclap”, a steganographic fashion zine, that instrumentalizes fashion accessories to publish He-Yin Zhen's writing into the public sphere. It is the first manifestation of the larger body of research of Amy Wu Suo, called “The New Nüshu” that investigates Chinese feminism, language politics, steganography and publishing in the context of China.

After finishing her three-month artist-in-residence at I: project space, Amy will give an in-depth talk about this research. Stay tuned for the week after on the 30th May, the artist’s studio will be turned into an open workspace where you can customize your own outfit into walking zines with “Thunderclap” patches and ribbons.

Steganography as form of secret writing, is the art and science of hiding information within public information. At the centre of this practice is the instrumentalization of the benign to reach new audiences. Fashion is generally regarded as 'toothless' or ‘politically harmless’. Can this apparent innocence be instrumentalized as a cover to spread alternative knowledge?

“Thunderclap” attempts to answer this provocation by steganographically distributing the work of He-Yin Zhen (1886-1920?), — an early female theorist who figured centrally in the birth of Chinese feminism — on fashion accessories such as patches and ribbons on clothing in China. These accessories contain quotes from He-Yin Zhen’s essay in English nested around a QR code that when scanned, downloads her original Chinese writing. This action aims to reinsert He Yin Zhen’s writing back into Chinese history and public knowledge because her bold writings were considered radical and dangerous in her lifetime and gradually have been lost from the historical record in China. Furthermore, her writings reminds us that feminism is not only a contemporary (Western) consciousness but also one that was articulated in imperial China.

Central to the “Thunderclap” project is the idea of instrumentalization, the practice of using one thing to achieve another. Firstly, utilising the medium of fashion as a ‘walking zine’ – an alternative and self-publishing medium that is simultaneously intimate (private) and broadcasted to the masses (public).

Secondly, taking advantage of decoration and ornamentations’ mass appeal as a covert vehicle to spread and distribute alternative knowledge and more specifically English text as a visual teaser, ‘scan bait’, information lubricant. The current Chinese fashion trend is to use English text on clothes as a value signifier. The aesthetics of Western culture is signified through latin based alphabet and literally becomes the embodiment of 'high culture'. This popularity allows for further distribution and circulation.

And thirdly, the weaponisation of decoration and ornamentation as an act of steganographic publishing that considers the safety of the people that distributes her writing. In this way, the instrumentalization of decoration negotiates and balances visibility and invisibility, exclusion and inclusion, online and offline, subversion and innocence.

“Thunderclap” is the first manifestation of the larger body of the research by Amy Wu Suo called "The New Nüshu", an ongoing research project.


艺术家: Amy吴索
时间: 2017年5月22日
地点: I: project space


在结束了她于 I: project space 为期三个月的驻留后,Amy吴索将于5月22日就其研究内容同大家作一次深入对话。随后的一周(5月30日),艺术家的工作室将对外开放,并邀请大家依各自意愿,用“霹雳”布贴和衣带将自己的衣服装饰成“行走的杂志”。









Related Content

Thunderclap in Sydney

Amy Suo Wu
Exhibition by Amy Suo Wu at Artspace Ideas Platform in Sydney