Contemporary artists attempt to locate a cross-cultural and social dynamic between China and the West.
(Da bao)(Takeout) is an attempt to locate a cross-cultural and social dynamic between China and the West, specifically Canada, by focusing on artists who investigate, adapt and instil ideas from abroad into their practices, while appreciating the palpable slippages that occur in the transference of ideas from one ethnicity to another. The selected artists explore ironic, metaphoric, humorous and even cynical perspectives on the import and export of people, cultures and ideas.
The title of the exhibition refers to occurrences of social and cultural shifts between people and places, using food as a metaphor for how we “digest” other cultures. Throughout China, Western fast-food chains are spreading quickly (including McDonald’s, KFC and Starbucks), keeping pace with the country’s hunger for economic growth. Chinese food has long been a favourite takeout food. Ironically, the ubiquitous white cardboard container used in the West for takeout Chinese food is completely unknown in China, and thus, the box becomes an iconic symbol of everyday misunderstandings.
Culture, in general, can be regarded as a system of delivering ideas from one group of people to another. In this way, (Da bao)(Takeout) addresses the metaphorical concept of delivery and interpretation of cultural identity. Artworks from both countries challenge and play with the different cultural conventions and restrictions that exist between East and West.
The artists in this exhibition are a mix of second- or third-generation Chinese-Canadians, Chinese who have travelled abroad to study art, and Canadians who have travelled to China for residencies or exhibitions. They share the experience of being “taken out” of familiar contexts and encountering a strikingly different culture. While their individual voices each occupy a unique position, collectively, they speak to issues of cultural transference, highlighting the gaps, distances and misunderstandings inherent in communication across cultural divides.