Mary O’Malley

1985 · United States

Many contemporary Chinese products and artworks are still steeped in traditional aesthetics and porcelain is a common manufacturing material for items as varied as street lamps to baby rattles. The blue and white, Ming Dynasty Qinghua style porcelain [a foundation of the global market during the 16th, 17th, and 18th century] has become a commonplace decoration for export, with the once precious material and fine painting cheapened through mass production. Mary O’Malley developed Barbecue Setting in response to these cultural and historical aesthetics. Whilst on a residency in JingDeZhen, China at the JingDeZhen Ceramics Institute, she was struck by the appropriation of American culture. Drawing from these contemporary examples of cultural confusion, Barbecue Setting absurdly and irreverently re-designs the Western trope of an American Barbecue, (a ritual deeply rooted in the soul of American culture) as product for the Eastern market. It stands as a satirical comment on globalization, cultural appropriation and the power of contemporary phenomena such as fake news to distort information and real understanding within contemporary society.

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Mary O’Malley