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Case study--"Imitation, Imitation" from Hao Zhenhan

In the early period of my project, I was eager to criticize the popular phenomenon of imitation and even plagiarize. I have a complicated feeling towards Jingdezhen. After four years study there, I realized that Jingdezhen has a popular phenomenon of imitation. Craftsmen usually imitate antique vases in a batch and highly standardized way. I was anxious to criticize the current situation of imitation and even plagiarize and compare it with the situation in Chinese feudal period and the situation in other countries. However, a graduate work from Hao zhen-han (2013) called ‘Imitation, imitation’ made me have a critical thinking about Chinese imitation culture. It is a video documented different people work on ceramic industry and view it in a historical context. This work uncovers the social, political and economic implications of Chinese imitation culture. Hao's unique idea that has a positive attitude toward imitation made me reflect on the ceramic industry in Jingdezhen from an object and historical view.

Hao zhen-han (2013) ‘Imitation, imitation’

This short film sheds light on the inseparability between the culture of imitation and creativity that lives within craftsmen’s skills, memories and experience in Jingdezhen, China. Through craftsmen’s own voices as well as those of local residents, this film reveals the evolving role of imitation in the contemporary Chinese context that has constantly traveled through dramatic political, economic and social changes. Moreover it also invites the audience to rethink the critical relationships between imitation and creativity in a globalising world.

The craftsman was asked to draw the four major steps of ceramic-making processes( throw, trim, paint and load the kiln) on the pot

The painter is imitating Van gogh's painting in Dafen village

The project ‘Imitation, Imitation’ uncovers the social, political and economic implications of Chinese imitation culture and stimulates a positive future through direct interventions. He have taken on the guise of an agent and was managing two research-practices simultaneously under different social contexts. In China, he have proposed a new production model for craftsmen in Dafen village and Jingdezhen to imitate and create at the same time. Together, Hao co-produced a series of improvised products that sought to inspire the imitators to explore their imagination and creativity. In London Hao introduced Chinese imitation culture through a workshop with the absurd aim of drawing perfect circles by repeatedly drawing circles freehand. This is similar to millions of workers’ and craftsmen’s daily jobs in China- making the impossible possible.

Hao Zhenhan (2015) Imitation, imitation — Antique Market

With imitation · imitation — Antique Market, Hao Zhenhan intervened in the porcelain-making process in Jingdezhen, where artisans normally make historical reproduction vases in vast quantities and in a highly standardised fashion. Hao started by asking a ceramicist to ‘complete’ a new vase based on a single, broken shard that he provided. He then challenged porcelain painters to work beyond their training by adding new decorative motifs and compositions based on images of objects found at a local antiques market. The result is a multi-layered investigation of authorship, agency, and imitation in craft production.


Hao Zhenhan(2013)

#contemporaryceramics #Jingdezhen #imitation #casestudy #craftsman #China #craft #production

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