In a new exhibition opening 1 April 2013, visitors to Couriers of Taste at Danson House will be able to explore a reconstruction of an opium den, peek into the private belongings of an imaginary 18th century trader and see seeds taken from Ai Weiwei's 2010 Tate Modern installation reclaimed through a social media campaign and back on show.
This exhibition is part of SINOPTICON, an on-going contemporary art project that considers value and taste, fantasy, replication and the stereotyping of images through the form and decorative narrative found in chinoiserie. âChinoiserie', a French term meaning âChinese-esque', was a European style inspired by China and the East. Like many fashionable 18th century houses, in Danson House there is wallpaper inspired by China, which you can see today in the salon.
Karen Tam's reconstruction of an opium den explores the carelessness of cultural stereotypes: visitors to âOpium Den' are invited to lie on the âopium beds' and explore authentic and inauthentic props like an opium pipe and cheap replica perfume, âOpium by Yves Saint Laurent'. And in the context of âThe Trader', Tam's fake ornaments sit alongside alien furniture by Stephanie Douet and an invasion of computer components, Fire Wire, by Susan Stockwell as contemporary hi-tech consumerism encroaches on every aspect of his world. New works will also be on show by Gayle Chong Kwan, who connects Danson House's heritage to the theme of consumerism through a sculptural work that references the masked allegorical figure in the Danson House dining room with the theatrical engagements between different cultures. Laura White's âEsque Collection' fills the final room with a riot of colour and everyday stuff with her eye-popping installation of 26 sculptures, playing off WESSIELING's poem constructed with advertising slogans.
Couriers of Taste looks at international trade in the past and today. The contemporary works on show are a poignant reflection of the concerns of artists practicing today and how history influences our understanding of the world.
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