Art in the First Decade is conceptual, philosophical and very conscious of its reception. Two prominent artists featured in the ‘ 21st Century: Art in the First Decade’ at the Gallery of Modern Art are Nathalie Djurberg and Ah Xian. (GoMA, 2011) Djurberg is a Swedish artist who lives and works in Berlin, explores themes of fantasy, dreams and sexuality through stop motion animation. Xian is a Chinese artist living in Australia who combines traditional Chinese materials and techniques with a contemporary sculptural practice to address issues surrounding cultural displacement, identity politics and the relationship between East and West. Djurberg’s work; Putting down the prey, and Xian’s body of work, Metaphysica. (GoMA, 2011) Although seemingly quite different in style and practice, share some themes and subject matter as a result of their technological, political and environmental influences.
Ah Xian’s highly acclaimed and celebrated porcelain figures are a clear reflection of the artist’s history and beliefs. Since Xian came to Australia in 1990, after the Tiananmen Square massacre, he has developed a new perspective of China as well as a new expression for that perspective. (The Australian, 2009) Xian’s works are made with archaic, traditional techniques, from specific regions of Jingdezhen, the traditional centre of China's porcelain trade. Some of these techniques have very specific localities. (Art moulds, 2011)The techniques symbolize the relationship between China and the West which developed around porcelain trade. Technology and trade have always been linked, and Xian refers to this in his employment of specialist factories. The world sees China as an anonymous factory and Ah Xian reflects this view and challenges it by using anonymous models for his casts and then branding his sculptures with obvious Chinese symbols. His use of traditional techniques contrasts with China’s contemporary mass production technology of goods including iPhones and...
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