In terms of history and geography, Silk Road is a splendid narration of mankind. If the Silk Road is a chain of nomads, then China is positioned either as the beginning or end. When ceramics moved along to the West, China was misunderstood as a different symbol. Porcelain appeared in England over one thousand years after its invention in China. During that period, ceramics was interpreted by different groups, influenced by culture, religion, science and even politics. Ceramic history was also marked by human history.
With a mindset of always moving, never stopping, the Ottoman’s nomadic society can be viewed as symbolic of current society. From both Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s perspectives, nomads are always regarded as “the other people”. The culture of the Silk Road was cultivated and spread by these “other people”, and passing from generation to generation transformed it from a starting point to a process.
“Chinese Contemporary Ceramics” is a term composed of three words, all possessing ambiguous definition. How to define “Chinese”, by nationality, lineage or cultural background? What about “Contemporary”? Is it from a historical perspective or other? And “Ceramic” is complicated as well: does it refer to culture, technique, tradition, history, function or material?
Different combinations of these three words will lead in varying directions, and these directions contrast and confront with one another to bring out multiple meanings.
This exhibition is not only a show of art works, but a cross-cultural experiment: two artists from different cultural backgrounds collaborated to reduce personal influence and gain multiple interpretations. Since nomadic culture is not recorded but is spread by “us”, “we” must have quite a few misunderstandings of ceramic culture. But misunderstanding may be good; the correct way only has one interpretation but misunderstanding can provide more possibilities, though the consequence may sometimes be disastrous. If we cannot avoid this disaster in reality, let us learn to face it and increase our understanding.
Chen Guanghui, Curator