Zhen (MadeIn Company), Xu est. 2009 / Play-Rebecca
Additional images
Zhen (MadeIn Company), Xu est. 2009 / Play-RebeccaZhen (MadeIn Company), Xu est. 2009 / Play-Rebecca
about this work
“Play is a series of works that elicit a response from viewers based on their cultural history and experience. Featuring a realistic sculpture of a naked African tribeswoman in ceremonial headdress, bound with ropes in BDSM style and hanging from the ceiling, Western audiences inevitably feel the pressure of their collective colonial guilt bearing down on how this image is interpreted. The ‘bondage’ of restraint remind Westerners of the bondage of African slavery, and the humiliating position the tribeswomen is presented in remind viewers of the history of racism that followed, and all this shall likely be followed with moral opprobrium of MadeIn’s treatment of such sensitive issues. This interpretation and its corresponding emotional response all happens within a fraction of a second of seeing the image, before our critical faculties have time to assert themselves. Even after more distance has been achieved between the object and oneself, that initial reaction shall form part of how a more measured response is composed. An Asian viewer of this work may have quite a different reaction, entirely devoid of the historical issues that forms part of post-colonial Western psychology. Instead, Asian audiences are more likely to interpret the image by cross-referencing its cultural fetishes. From this perspective, the Japanese sexual fetish of bondage - 'kinbaku' - is comically married with African tribal culture’s fetishistic adornment. No moral dilemma can be detected except perhaps bad taste. However, this latter interpretation is disturbed by the factor of China’s recent aggressive trade relationship with many African countries, prompting concerns that the cycle of exploitation will start all over again with this new superpower. If this is registered by the viewer, then traces of the ‘Western’ interpretation infringe on this latter ‘Asian’ reading of the work. Unlike the cerebral nature of reading a piece of art criticism like this, being confronted with such an artwork places one within the matrix of one’s own ideology, and MadeIn’s work aims to use art to expose and explore these cultural structures.”

Extract from Made by MadeIn by Colin Chinnery (Inside the White Cube, catalogue,2012)

Xu Zhen (MadeIn Company) (est. 2009 , China)

Play-Rebecca, 2014

Silicone, iron, cotton filling, hemp cordage, shells, beads
150 x 100 x 70 cm
59 1/16 x 39 3/8 x 27 9/16 in.
MadeIn Gallery, Shanghai, China  Current Location:
Hong Kong - BRINK'S HK SculptureFar East

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