04 May
05 May

(Re)Made in China: Material dis:connections, art and creative reuse

Opening hours / Beginning:

4 May 2023 - 5 May 2023


Various venues

(re)made in china: material dis:connections, art and creative reuse

The creative reuse of ‘made-in-China’ materials has a short history in the daily practices of middle-class households, but a long history in art, craftsmanship and design. When Ming-dynasty potters in China’s ‘porcelain capital’ Jingdezhen made plates, cups and bowls, they could not have known that their work would be reused to decorate European sites, such as the ceiling of Lisbon’s Santos Palace and the wall panels of Berlin’s Charlottenburg Castle. Similarly, factory workers and ragpickers on contemporary Chinese garbage dumps may be unaware of artworks made entirely of discarded objects that are being exhibited in exclusive urban art spaces around the world. Despite material flows that span the globe, value and knowledge systems connected to such materials are disrupted in two main ways. First, these flows traverse cultural boundaries, allowing for radical changes in systems of material evaluation (e.g. enabling the perception of ‘trash as treasure’). Second, transcultural artistic research reuses and re-evaluates seemingly ‘meaningless’ garbage, turning it into a resource for multi-million-dollar art installations and prized design innovations. As one of the world’s leading waste-receiving and waste-producing countries, China is a particularly important case study.

This event understands ‘recycling’ as a range of creative practices, including the upcycling of biodegradable, inorganic and manmade materials, as well as the appropriation of architectural fragments (spolia), objets trouvés) and industrially produced items elevated to the status of art (ready-mades). It aims to probe art and design in these categories:

  • Historic recycling practices in Ming and Qing-dynasty China
  • Historic examples of transcultural recycling of Chinese matter in Europe
  • Creative reuse in modern and contemporary Chinese art and design
  • Recycling in contemporary design outside of the ‘art world’

Bringing together artists, curators and scholars from the fields of history, art history, Chinese studies and the history of science and technology, the participants will fill a lacuna in research by scrutinising, conceptualising, and theorising early modern, modern, and contemporary practices of the recycling of Chinese materials across China and Europe. The event will contribute to a non-hegemonic history of art, craftsmanship and design that touches upon urban hubs and rural ecologies, the works of artists and artisans as well as the products of craftsmen and factory workers across social, historic and cultural divides, complementing Western-centric theories of creative reuse.

A registration is required. You can find more information on the website of global dis:connect.

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