Brody & Paetau started producing paintings in China in 2007 with the exhibition ‘Painting China Now’. The exhibition was made out of an installation of 30 oil paintings (30cm X 40cm) depicting victims of torture inflicted by the Chinese government upon their own citizens. All paintings were painted in China according to found photographs documenting Falun Dafa members victims of torture in China. These images are censored in China. Accordingly, out of the 20 painting factories that the artists contacted, only 2 companies accepted to produce the work and sent the artists a price offer. Since then Brody & Paetau have employed their ‘Chinese assistants’ on several occasions, exploiting the cheap labour and challenging the viewers’ sense of artistic quality with the Made in China label.
Made in China is one of the most recognizable labels in the world today due to China’s rapidly developing large manufacturing industry. The country is the largest exporter in the world and the Made in China label can be seen on a huge range of goods from clothing to electronics. A series of scandals concerning exports, sweatshops, human rights offenses and torture have harmed the ‘Made in China’ brand, but the western art world has nevertheless been eager to establish galleries in China and to sell chinese art on the western art market.
Brody & Paetau are also interested in the outsourcing/offshoring phenomenon and in testing the limits of their own strategy. They exploit the critical potential of outsourcing to China and make good use of the specific technical abilities of their chinese assistants to ‘re-produce’ any picture in a realistic manner for unbeatable production prices. Brody & Paetau demonstrate that any artist can afford to work with assistants, thus imitating in an ironical way the production process of well known contemporary artists who employ dozens of assistants in order to fill the demand of production of an avid global art market.
The critical strategy of the works could be described as ‘homeopathic’ in the sense of: ‘let like be cured by like’, by re-enacting and thus calling the attention of the public on problematic phenomenons related to politics, power, economy, and the hypocrisy of the western world facing a totalitarian country as a business partner. The ‘China problem’ is far from being resolved and the western art world is not exempted from it – as recent scandals continue to prove with the abusive detention of Chinas best known artist Ai Weiwei.
Exhibition: 09 june – 23 july 2011
Tue – Sat: 12h – 18h or by appointment
Exhibition opening 09.06.2011: 18h – 21h
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