02 January 2008

On art and translations...

There's a photo of a marvelous piece of art floating around out there in the blogosphere today. Its medium is porcelain, the artist is Lei Xue, and the title of the piece at its German gallery is "Tee trinken, 2007." The average English speaker would probably read that as "Tea drinking" which a quick Google search confirms is close to accurate ("to have tea" is the most common translation).

So why, then, are the objects pictured being described as beer cans or pop/soda cans? I presume because most people outside of Asia (and the Pacific Northwest/BC cities which boast large Asian populations) are unaware that tea and coffee are sold in cans, too.

Still, it's no excuse for laziness.

It even makes more sense as tea cans, because both the medium and the designs on the "cans" look like Chinese tea cups, thus the piece can be seen as a reflection or comment on modern convenience. I found another, larger piece by the same artist featuring even more porcelain tea "cans" at another gallery, unfortunately the page cannot be directly linked, but you can get to it from the artists' page by clicking on Xue.


As an aside, if you like these art pieces, you should also have a look at works by Ma Jun (see also Majun) who has in turn been compared to Charles Krafft (though Krafft's work has a much darker edge to its subversiveness). Incidentally, I would dearly love to have some of Krafft's Delft-like Disasterware™ plates hanging in my next kitchen....

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