Made in China
The phrase Made in China is synonymous with cheap mass production, the reduction of national manufacturing and now with Trump’s Chinese virus outbursts. I have composed these still lifes using only items Made in China.
These are cheaply manufactured goods, made in Chinese factories and imported in bulk by the truck load - 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 capturing the most valuable possessions. These Dutch Still Lifes were regarded as parables of time - illustrating 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 have been made still by the coronavirus, the series asks us to consider changes in the economic and geopolitical state of our consumer culture, our on-going relationship with China, globalisation and plastic mass production – what that has brought to our world – and now how it has directly impacted our health.
Made in China wonders whether at the end of this pandemic, will our supposed, new found appreciation of the simpler things and social equality take root, or instead will our approach to China, to economic globalisation, mass consumerism, corporate tax-avoidance and drive for individual wealth remain the same.