Case study--Xu Zhen's “MadeIn Curved Vase”

October 29, 2018

The magnificent and enduring tradition of blue and white porcelain began during the Yuan dynasty in the early 1300s, when the pigment cobalt blue started being used for decorative purposes. The heyday of blue and white porcelain production was the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), when the market for fine porcelain widened from imperal and noble consumers to commoners in China and overseas. Xu Zhen's blue and white vase continues and parodies this process.

Xu Zhen (2013) MadeIn Curved Vase – Blue and White Vase with Dragons Design Kangxi Period Qing Dynasty
 

Confronting the fact that China today is known less for fine porcelain than for cheap products "Made in China" in vast quantities, Xu Zhen reinvented himself in 2009 as Madeln Company, an enterprise producing and distributing to the global art economy. With its neck bent and normal function thwarted, Xu Zhen's vase is an export ceramic of an unusual kind- a vessel that tampers playfully with ceramics history from the perspective of the mass-market present.

Xu Zhen (2014) MadeIn Curved Vase -- Blue and Jun Yao Glazed Lotus Seedpod Vase, Qianlong, Qing Dynasty

 

The series “MadeIn Curved Vase” carefully reproduces classical Chinese porcelain vases according to the form, size, decoration and materials; the one difference is that the necks of the vases are folded down at a 90-degree angle, thus completely detaching them from their utilitarian value. Different from the contemporary imitation of the old antiques, which are popular among market , these works continue the ridiculous and critical creative methods that Xu Zhen used to various classics. Through these works, Xu Zhen (Produced by MadeIn Company) depicts a “history that could have happened” parallel to the history of China as commonly understood.

 

Xu Zhen (2014) MadeIn Curved Vase - Vault of Heaven Vase with Peach Design, Qianlong Period

 

 

 

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