Ma Qiusha: No. 52 Liulichang East Street

2023. 05. 25-07. 15

Beijing Commune is pleased to announce that we are opening Ma Qiusha‘s solo project “No. 52 Liulichang East Street” on May 25, 2023. This will be the artist’s seventh solo show at the gallery. A collection of old objects retrieved back to China from antique auctions and stores worldwide, along with the artist’s family heirlooms, family photographs and personal portraits, converge in the display window of a fictional antique store named “No. 52 Liulichang East Street” standing in the gallery space. In this site built with personal belongings, artist-made works and archaeological pieces, the historical accuracy of individuals and their family is suspended in a web interwoven with truth and fiction, memory and reality.


The objects and images spanning from the late Qing Dynasty, the Republic of China, to Chuang Hui Period (a time in which commodities were made with the purpose of exporting overseas to earn foreign currencies for the state) in the New China serve as vivid presentations of various themes and historical eras. They were reactivated by the artist through appropriation and re-arrangement, and their inner complexity is quietly unconcealed through this reconstruction. Things that have been reactivated are also physical space, history, memory, and imagination. From old handicrafts that can be fiddled in one’s hands, to commodities circulated out of cultural curiosity of the non-western world in the colonial period, to the globalized flowing of manufactured products brought by the   globalized consumption, the transformation of the social life of objects also reflects changes in production and consumption methods, as well as the transformation of individuals and social situations. These objects and images, along with the transfer of ownership, are circulating in the daily lives of families worldwide, intertwined with specific histories, family events, and personal stories. The meanings they carry have a dual reference – both private and emotionally charged, and political, historical, and collective in nature.


Based on the artist’s personal experiences and family stories, “No. 52 Liulichang East Street” shows a sensitivity to the unsettling displacement and discontinuity of history and reality. Some objects and images are presented in a disguised way, as if it is a game tantalizing between self and the other. In other words, individuals are embedded in the changes and turmoil of the times and ultimately merge into one. Reality and falsehood are no longer binary oppositional. With their border intentionally blurred, they mutually question each other through comparison. The objects in the shop window look precious and inaccessible. They easily grab people’s attention, through which they make things hidden behind visible. Born in Beijing in 1982, Ma Qiusha inextricably links her artistic practice to her life experiences. She employs multiple media such as photography, video, installation, and drawing, with her works exploring the themes between individuals and the collective, and private spaces and public spheres. Her research on individuals, families, and intergenerational relationships extends to the understanding of various social groups in changing times. In her childhood, Ma often absented herself from after-school activities organized by the school. Instead, she spent a lot of time hanging out at Liulichang, the well-known “Street of Antiques” of Beijing which she passed by on her way home every day. Her imagination of self and history was seeded and grew as she explored in the old objects and aged portrait photographs from Qing Dynasty, which were a mixture of the real and the fake.

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