By Zhenhan Hao
imitation · imitation, 2016
Porcelain, blue and white with iron red
25 × 25 x 41 (cm)
9.8 × 9.8 × 16.1 (in)
Price Available Upon Request
It was eye opening to Jingdezhen people when the gas kiln was first introduced to Jingdezhen in the 1980’s. It reduced the wood kiln firing time from 3 days to 8 hours, and sped up the production cycle, enabling an even more precise grasp on quality control. Now, a new wave of technology like 3D printers and microwave kilns are being introduced to Jingdezhen. How will these new technologies change the way Jingdezhen artisans make porcelain?
The journey of ‘imitation, imitation’ started with the scandal of a fake chicken egg. It aroused heated debates when it was exposed to the public. Despite the moral issue, there is an exceptionally complicated but familiar system behind it, a system that mixes together a combination of education, culture and economics. The artist realized he was an integral part of this system, therefore it was then that he immersed himself in the understanding of imitation culture. Imitation is not only the actuality but also a metaphor encompassing all exchanges involving labour, money and power in capitalism. With a newly shaped identity as an agent, the artist demonstrated how physically separated industries and sites such as oil painting in Dafen Village and ceramics in Jingdezhen are connected with larger networks, systems and processes. In order to prompt new forms of exchange and the potential of imitation, he proposed a different ethic, aesthetic and pedagogy of imitation. Imitation, whether individual or collective, is like the art of learning, both dependent on practices and performances and on the articulation of philosophy.
Imitation, imitation is a two and a half years of experimental project located within the graduation project of MA at Royal College of Art. It uncovers the social, political and economic implications of Chinese imitation culture and stimulates a positive future through my direct interventions. The artist has taken on the guise of an agent and is managing two research-practices simultaneously under different social contexts. In China, he proposed a new production model for craftspeople in Dafen village and Jingdezhen to imitate and create at the same time. Together, they co-produced a series of improvised products that sought to inspire the imitators to explore their imagination and creativity. In London, Zhenhan introduced Chinese imitation culture through a workshop with the absurd aim of drawing perfect circles. With the exposure to forum, universities, galleries and museums people with different backgrounds are brought into complex landscapes of interdisciplinary interactions and experimentations that invite further interpretation and interrogation of the notion of imitation. In the end, his own identity of artist converted to an agent, a middleman, a catalyst provoked a beautiful landscapes which beyond any individual’s creativity and imagination.