MADE IN CHINA

MADE IN CHINA, is a deep, wry, genial meditation upon cultural appropriation, racial stereotypes, and the misconception. The project stems from a personal experience of everyday racism and fully blossoms in a concept. The use of symbols (labels, chopped-chopsticks, jade bangle) turn jewels from mute adornments into pieces of emancipation and liberation from stereotypes.
My collection is closely related to personal experiences during these six years in the UK, I have encountered racism quite often, random people on the street flip you a bird and call me chink, yell go back to china at me etc. Why in a technologically advanced society, where everyone can easily acquire knowledge from the internet, there are still misunderstandings between cultures, people still judge a book by its cover. Just because I look different so I deserved to be made fun of when I am just walking down the street? I sort of got used to it but at the same time so fed up with it.
I kept questioning myself until learning an academic term “cultural appropriation”, where in the global village; cultures started to merge together like there is a melting pot, which makes the origin can be barely seen anymore, it seems appropriating other cultures are very common. However I definitely feel uncomfortable to realize my own heritage, my own culture, has been fading away under the “global development”. Also the large sea of cultures and identities has suddenly been diluted into shallow swamps and broken into vague fragments; but the most painful truth is there are people believing these remains are the whole image. Hence I used elements of glitch and pixilation to be the main backbone of the whole collection, to visualize this occurrence. Therefore I have pixelated the iconic Chinese jewellery jade bangle and pearl necklaces in order to represent the idea.
On the other hand I want to introduce another element – labels, into my collection. By reason of labelling and stereotyping are infested in media, I would like to pin point about how absurd, and sometimes hilarious these labels are. Plus to nail down how does it feel when a non-targeted person falls into these stereotypes. As I do not speak for all of the cultures, I would like to create a collection mainly focus on my own background, also I found the phrase “Made in China” very powerful in terms of modern Chinese stereotypes; for instance it extremely relates to cheap labour, bad quality, and mass production, which contradicts with jewellery. And so I adopted the phrase to be my project title. In order to visualize the labelling element along with the hint of mass production, I have decided to imitate clothing labels and designer’s bag logos to intensify its sarcasm. These elements will be made into brooches and pins, alters the wearer’s identity in the simplest way.
Throughout the designs of the labels, I tried to sustain a tone of humour, whereas to lighten the subject, cynical but still entertaining to depict the idea. Most of the stereotypes mentioned in my work are the most common ones that personally have encountered; I have also looked at a lot of recent media work in popular cultures and handed out surveys to collect more thoughts. The whole collection is made to be hit the nail on the head to make people think, but subtle enough to lead to an open-ended answer.

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Freelance graphic designer