'Stories of a Woman and Her Dowry' is the first solo exhibition after Yanyun Chen's successful outing at the Singapore Art Museum's President's Young Talents (PYT) showcase. It highlights the signature narrativity of her installations, both visible in the PYT presentation and here, where the work is as much seen as read, and text functions as theoretical and narrative devices equally, if not more so than as visual ones.
The installation is organized novelistically, with four chapters and a prologue. Each chapter is named by a Chinese ideogram, each designating the roles and life-stages a woman was expected to occupy within the Cantonese-Hainanese milieu of her family - 女nu (woman), 妻qi (bride), 娘niang (wife), 母mu (mother). Her Dowry as an installation works as spatial auto-fiction, in which the walls of the Grey space becomes the analogue to pages and text, and the encompassing space the spine of a biography of a young woman weighing the consequences of these expectations and staging a refusal. The installation draws filmic associations with scenes in Raise the Red Lantern (1991), A City of Sadness (1989), as well as literary allusions to an Ophelia-like body floating on a plain of liquid red.