Made in China: New Ceramic Works by Keiko Fukazawa
January 24, 2016 — May 8, 2016
“Made in China”—three words that saturate our daily existence through the products we consume. With the world’s largest population and second largest economy, China is the epicenter for the worldwide challenges of globalization: loss of cultural practices, income inequality, and environmental degradation. In her recent body of work, ceramic artist Keiko Fukazawa appropriates this phrase to examine the rapid spread of industrialization and capitalism in China since the death of Chairman Mao Zedong in 1976. Fukazawa produced these pieces during three artist residencies (2013-15) in Jingdezhen, China—known as “the porcelain capital of the world.” Fukazawa went to Jingdezhen specifically to work with porcelain, bringing along a prior fascination with Chinese art and politics. Through the work in Made in China, Fukazawa tries to make sense of her observations of contemporary Chinese culture, in which the country’s communist ideals seem to fuse with unmitigated capitalism and consumerism.
Fukazawa employed the traditional ceramic processes and materials of Jingdezhen to create works comprised of multiples. These multiples merge appropriated emblems of contemporary Chinese culture and consumerism—Chairman Mao, luxury brand logos, domestic wares—with traditionally cast forms, glazes, and rejected parts from Jingdezhen ceramic factories. In Jingdezhen, roughly 85% of the local economy is based in ceramic production, and the city is populated with thousands of skilled artisans. Fukazawa collaborated with a number of these artisans, incorporating their specialized skills into her own pieces. She also manipulated existing ceramic products in new ways and combinations to further her conceptual interests.
Born in Japan, Fukazawa has been living and working in the United States since 1984. As an outsider peering into Chinese society, Fukazawa brings a certain freedom and perspective to these new works. She was able to pursue her ideas with little fear of government scrutiny and looked at the impacts of consumerism on Chinese culture after witnessing similar developments in America since the 1980s. With a playful sense of irony, Fukazawa brings awareness to the follies of China’s unrestrained capitalism and also challenges us to realize our own complicity in this phenomenon as consumers of things “Made in China.”
Curator: Holly Jerger
This exhibition was made possible in part by The Antonia and Vladimer Kulaev Cultural Heritage Fund Inc., The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles, and Asian Cultural Council, New York.
Exhibition Photography by Susan Einstein, provided courtesy of the artist.
Lead Image: Keiko Fukazawa, Chinese Still Life #1, 2013. Porcelain, glaze, transfers, gold luster, dimensions variable, courtesy of the artist. Photo: Susan Einstein.