China trip film
GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE
Short film shot by Chen Yong in Jingdezhen, edited by The Stones
SheChina - A Collaborative Project by Wilma Stone & Chen Yong
This project was generated in response to a pile of discarded rubber glove hand moulds found at a street dump in Jingdezhen when undertaking a five week ceramic residency and research tour in China that took place in October-November 2013.
After discovering the hands with Chen Yong (nickname Fanjoe, shortened to Joe) a few days before the end of the trip and recognizing the possibility for an installation, I decided to take one hand back to the UK with me and Joe collected the rest. We debated about what we might possibly do with these found objects and I invited him to collaborate
with me - him working on the multiples in China, me working with the individual hand mould in Britain - and see what happened. He agreed. We set the month of June/July 2014 to exhibit the project. We had no idea where the project would take us or what the outcome would be. After my return, dialogue was continued through WeChat (a digital App) on our phones and the project has evolved and been driven by a reciprocal spirit of affection, optimism and cooperation. All the communication (verbal, written, and photographed) charting the development of ideas and speculations, have been transcribed and recorded by me and then sent to Joe to translate into Mandarin, to finally be printed into a book.
As an experiment in trans-disciplinary collaboration between two artists who do not share the same generation, geography, or gender, the aim was to develop a sculptural language through the notions of inclusion, storytelling and connection that celebrates the discarded and unwanted through the creation of mnemonic objects. Given a new life, this act
of recuperation has produced objects and images which aspire to induce daydreams into, and transformation of, our repressed histories, memories and trauma.
The psychic effects of trauma - that psychoanalytic theories have shown insist on repetition and its technical reproduction - is a theme which is extensively explored through the lens of China’s ceramic practice and history, an ancient cultural tradition which celebrates and rewards repetition. It also looks at the ceramic object as fetish and prop, which allows the psyche to hold onto contradictory knowledge, ‘magical thinking’ and a belief in false messiahs.
The work refers specifically to the inequalities of a global economy and considers the political, economic and social complexities of industrialized ceramic production in which manual labour has been reduced to mindless, deadening repetition and creates a form of psychic amnesia and repression of historical memory. It provides a space in which to
question the enchantment of beauty over the ugliness of social exploitation and “how the craftsperson can, through the pride taken in their work, be blinded to the social and political consequences of what they make”. Ceramic materials, processes and skills are used to
expose and explore issues of what it means to be considered obsolete, useless and unwanted. The purpose of clipboards, aluminium cable trunking and an industrial trolley for display adds a further material association with production workshops and factories.
Three Prostrations and Nine Kowtows (2014)
Porcelain clay, cobalt oxide, black stain
Three box frames each holding nine small tiles printed with hands, layered with images of the dumped moulds and faces from the past, are lined up to reference nationalist and familial promotion of collective identity and ideological regimentation. As “icons of loss”, they are an aesthetic attempt to represent ritual, sacrifice and ancestral worship through the use of fetishes, charms and effigies in humanity’s delusional search for bliss.