Made in China
The phrase ‘Made in China’ is synonymous with cheap mass production, the reduction of national manufacturing, and, now, Trump’s Chinese virus outbursts. I have composed these still lifes using only items Made in China.
These are cheaply manufactured goods, made in factories and imported in bulk by the truckload – bought in the Euro shop, but presented as rich gilded trophies: the perishable delicacies and unique objects of luxury, typically showcased in traditional 16th Century Dutch and Flemish genre paintings.
In the past, these highly detailed ‘Vanitas’ still life paintings captured the most valuable possessions. These Dutch Still Lifes were regarded as parables of time, showing rotting fruit and flowers and presenting moral lessons about vanity, the pursuit of worldly goods, and the certainty of death. But my still lifes do not age, they are plastic: stuffed animals, fake flowers, and foods. They question contemporary values placed on popular goods, as well as the economy of overseas manufacture and import.
Apart from the fact that all our lives were brought to a standstill by the coronavirus, the series asks us to consider changes in the economic and geopolitical state of our consumer culture and our ongoing relationship with China, globalisation, and plastic mass production. What has this brought to our world and how has it directly impacted our health?
‘Made in China’ questions whether, as we reach the end of this pandemic, we have a new-found appreciation of the simpler things and more social equality, or instead if our approach to China, globalisation, consumerism, corporate tax-avoidance and drive for individual wealth will remain the same.
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