We’re delighted to feature a diversity of artists in our program thus far, and this June we’re showcasing the ceramic works of a local artist which are the definition of resilience over the last couple of years.
Susan Chen is a Sydney-based ceramic artist, working out of her studio in Sydney’s Inner West. Chen’s work explores the intersection of art, design and craft, currently focusing on the use of digital technology in the ceramic art making process. Chen is interested in the changing narrative and perception of traditional ceramic making techniques, and how they can be applied in a contemporary context. Her inspiration is often located in the mundane of the everyday.
Chen is an acute social observer and creates sculptural interpretations and unique narratives from social debris that is left behind, both in the physical and digital realm. Her work highlights the significance of the object in the ephemeral nature of the digital world.
I’m not racist, but… (Australian Mahjong) – Photographic series
This photographic series is inspired by an earlier work from the “I’m not a Virus” project, in collaboration with Diversity Arts Australia, in 2021. Chen created a series of custom Mahjong tiles exploring the theme of casual racism that is sometimes unconsciously inflicted upon Asian-Australians, and which was exacerbated at the height of COVID.
The three traditional suits, honour, wind, flowers and joker tiles are subverted through the use of imagery that captures the state of intolerance as a result of COVID. Represented on these tiles are symbols and words that reflect the slurs, stereotypes, casual racist remarks and patronising platitudes that COVID reinvigorated.
In this new series of works, the tiles are represented in a photographic essay, which offers insight into the artist’s own cross-cultural experience as an Asian-Australian. There is a nostalgic tone that is carried through in each of the images, where the artist has included elements such as snacks, decor and treasured possessions from her childhood memories. The tiles lay scattered amongst these experiences and memories, in a cynical but casual manner; the reality of what it means to “play the game” as an Asian-Australian.
With I’m not racist, but… (Australian Mahjong)- Tiles, the artist reappropriated the “model minority” stereotype: emboldened, not silenced by cultural assimilation, she held up a mirror to Australia’s racist tendencies, playfully challenging friends, family, acquaintances – “do you play the casual racist?”
Its photographic companion piece is the natural realisation of Chen’s exploration of what it is to participate in the Chinese diaspora in contemporary Australia. It is a warm nod to, and a gentle embrace of her cultural origins and its idiosyncrasies. No longer satisfied with “playing the game”, Chen invites viewers to experience her perspective and participate in the richness of her cultural heritage. Let’s play!
Susan Chen’s exhibition will run from 31 May to 2 July 2022, Tuesdays to Saturdays from 4pm at Banchō.
Please send enquiries to Curated by Banchō Project Manager Tina Wing Kee via firstname.lastname@example.org