In 2002 I participated in ArtOmi, International Artist’s Colony, a residence for artists located near the Hudson river, upstate New York. About thirty artists from the most variated places of the world assist annually to that residence, and in that opportunity asian presence, particularly Chinese artists, was important. Some of them were actually living in that country and others had emigrated to the United States. There I met artist Pan Xing Lei, who invited me to be part of its curatorship for Redo China the following year.
Aware of the difficulties for Chinese contemporary artists to carry their millenary culture, Pan Xing Lei’s curatorship was looking for Chinese and non-Chinese artists to reflect on the relation and notion they held on what really contemporary China was. Even though I thought the challenge was interesting, it appeared to me that the way to face it wasn’t necessarily to make an accurate research on the recent political, social and cultural events of that country; I felt that doing so was to avoid reality: I didn’t know much about contemporary China. Beyond what the media informed at a kind of regular basis, the image we have built around those latitudes are loaded of clichés, filtered by the choices of different groups of interest’s on what is right for us to know.
Then one day, picking up the toys my children left scattered on the floor, I understood that it was far more honest to face the challenge from true ignorance and that the only certainty I had was that those toys had traveled all the way from that country to settle down in my children’s room, like little silence ambassadors. So I chose two toys into which its origin was clearly impressed (CHINA), I photographed them and then used these images to make two little handmade embroideries, on the object’s natural scale, and sew them on two red canvases, like many of the symbols our memory associates with that country.