Shadow Count, installation, ceramics, plexiglass, mixed media, dimensions variable, 2010

Gender inequities in China are vast and informed not only by a history of an entrenched patriarchal, Confucian ideology but also by more contemporary issues. The growing ratio gap of women to men is one such issue: today there are only 85 women to every 100 men of marriageable age. One aspect of this gender population disparity is the proliferation of abuse against women including, of course, rape (although, of course, rape is nothing new nor specific to China). China’s official rape statistic in 2007 was 31,833 – or about 87.2 per day.

“Only one out of ten cases is likely to be reported,” said Luo Tsun-yin, a social psychologist at Shih Hsin University in Taiwan, and some estimate that the ratio is even greater. (from “Rape in China” by Paxely Marquez) This brings the number of rapes per day closer to 872.

Using the lily as a motif, “Shadow Count” represents both the official number of women and the hidden numbers. The 87 recognized lilies, set in a series of plexiglass lakes, are lit by multiple light sources creating 783 shadow lilies representing the unofficial numbers. The hidden numbers are murky and shifting, shaded by governmental needs to present “harmonious living” as a truism, and in need of a more tangible representation.

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