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27 Mar 2010 – 6 Jun 2010
Karen Tam Pagoda Pads: Opium Den 2007 (photo courtesy of the artist)
This two-person exhibition features Karen Tamís Pagoda Pads: Opium Den in the upper mezzanine gallery, and Jihee Minís Once Upon Camellia Blossoms in the lower gallery.
Karen Tamís work investigates cultural identity and authenticity, focusing on the various forms of constructions and imaginations of the Chinese in the West through spaces such as the Chinese restaurant and other sites of racial identity. Her full-room installations draw attention to the orientalism that continues to exist in our current culture, while remaining humourously self-examining. Inspired by the ubiquitous decorating shows and magazines that commodify Asian cultures, Tamís Pagoda Pads are presented as show rooms, exemplifying ways to give oneís home an Oriental flair. In this particular installation, she transforms the upper gallery into a Victorian opium den, complete with mats on which gallery viewers can lounge.
In the lower gallery, Jihee Min presents a sensual yet grotesque scene involving one hundred over-sized silk camellia blossoms, the stamens of which have been replaced with fleshy nylon phalluses. On opening night, Min will be present, sitting silently on a stool, while visitors fold origami camellia blossoms and use them to adorn her long black wig. The wig and origami blossoms will remain in the gallery for the remaining exhibition period. With this project Min, responds to her experience of the Western exoticization of Asian women. Through the beautiful and disturbing physical qualities of this exhibition, Min examines her love-hate relationship with [her] ethnicity.
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