Karen Tam’s Curio Shop

here is a manifestation of Trinketization and exoticism, herewith endorsed – go visit!

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Terra dos Chinês Curio Shop

by Karen Tam (click on image for Facebook link)

 

July 9-August 22, 2015
Artspace (Peterborough, ON)
For my exhibition at Artspace, I am producing a large-scale installation entitled Terra dos Chinês Curio Shop to see how these objects may relate to contemporary everyday life and the politics involved with their display. Viewers enter a space that appears to be real but is a façade of “DIY chinoiserie,” styled after Chinatown curio shops circa 1930s. This hopefully will highlight the encounters that occur between specific locales and East Asian-influenced material culture and refer not only to mass production of pirated consumer goods in China but also to the questions that are always present where artistic production is concerned. The Chinatown curio shop as well as other similar sites function as both self-representational through the use of material culture to display and play off expectations of ‘tourists’ and visitors to a place of ‘exoticness’ and ‘foreigness’ that has been domesticated by the shop-owners, and the exploitation and commercialization of such display and curiosity. The objects within such spaces form a sort of collection and archive, and act as traces of a timeline of changing attitudes. While considered as everyday items for the Chinese family who would have run the curio shop, they would have been seen as novelties by ‘tourists’. This project also reflects and comments on the historical trade routes between China (the ‘Far East’) and Europe and North America (the ‘West’), chinoiserie and the production of objects for the Western taste and market, and the current shanzhai or copycat culture in China, the world’s manufacturer and is itself the largest consumer and producer of fakes.