Limerick, Ireland
Ni Haifeng, Of the Departure and Arrival, 2007, ceramic installation, dimensions variable

Ní Haifeng

b. 1964, China

The project began with collecting everyday objects in Delft – used objects, found objects and discarded objects. It was not unlike gathering ethnological evidence of the Delft population, or, one might say, the contemporary archaeology of the city. The collected objects were gathered, catalogued and crated before their departure to China. They were shipped to a Chinese equivalent of Delft, Jingdezhen, where they were remoulded into porcelain. The transformed Delft objects were then containerised and shipped back to Delft. Upon their arrival in Delft, the objects were arranged in a massive array on a ship moored near the old VOC headquarter, which evokes a sense of the return of the past, as if the oriental goods in bulk had just arrived. Accompanying the objects, multiple documentations, photographs, video and sound installations were displayed in the cockpit and various cabins of the ship. Some selected objects were displayed in Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, in the vitrines among the original archeological objects of Delft.

The process is not only reminiscent of the porcelain trade, the practice of China de Command and VOC economic-politics of the old days, but also of the nature of the contemporary ‘Made in China’, global-production outsourcing. Thus, the project fuses history and today, as though to reconstruct a historical moment as a contemporary fiction or to historicise contemporary life as a phantasmagorical reappearance of the past. Also, in a somewhat ironical twist, what had departed as present-day objects – used objects, junk objects from Delft – returned as ‘beautified foreign goods’, reified contemporary antiques.

(Text: too early for vacation catalogue, 2008)

Back to Artists