Chinese Takeaway is an art series (or the beginnings of) exploring ideas of cross cultural knowledge, understanding and appropriation: one culture's 'take away' from another comes down to so many factors: access to and exchange of ideas, being open to and comfortable with 'foreignness', as well as a willingness to simply think about ideas that are different from our own.
Why Chinese Takeaway in particular? Well, aside from the most excellent ability to wordplay here, how does one understand a culture as evolved? As rich? As diverse and complex?
But then, do we need to understand it?
Do 'The Chinese' understand or seek to understand everything that makes up their collective identity - do we of our own cultures? (And there I go, tying together a hugely diverse spectrum of ethnicities with the string of geography)
As a foreigner looking in (nose pressed against the glass, hands cupped to face), is there a greater obligation to understand, purely by reason of being on the outskirts. As proof of a willingness to engage and interact. Where do we meet?
Can we ever get past the artificial, the superficial? Travel broadens the mind, but does modern tourism generate and replicate a disneyfied version of the culture visited, making it more easily digestible for those visiting? Can an 'authentic' experience be had at a tea ceremony crafted and played out purely for the entertainment of foreigners? Does it matter either way?
So many rice grainy questions in this big bowl for contemplation.
All good things to consume while doing the same with the pieces below, which take cliche imagery - the fortune cookie, the oyster pail takeaway box and the Lazy Susan (and here I have appropriated from American culture for NZ takeaway containerage - styrofoam and plastic containers and bags - is just not that visually appealing!) - and tessellates them, like traditional Chinese patterns.
I've also commandeered and manipulated a traditional Chinese art and craft - rice grain porcelain - but reversed it. Rather than rice grain-sized, glaze-filled gaps, the rice paper spreads beyond the borders of what one culture takes away (and what I have taken and used): culture is always more expansive and far-reaching than we can ever comprehend.
And I think that's the message of this fortune cookie, really.
And if your ears are perked and prepped to hear your takeaway order being called, check out this excellent little podcast on the American invention of 'Chinatown'. Talk about a cultural Disneyland.
And then I up and go a little meta on y'all: American Chinese is officially its own cuisine. It's even gaining popularity in China.
Pick that one up with your chopsticks and chew on it for a bit.