Sunday, November 14, 2010

"development box" and other moments

"MADE IN CHINA" stamps have been so much a part of our lives growing up in Caribbean. In the past it was pencils and plastic pencil-sharpeners, yellow twelve-inch-rulers etc. Modest items with all the associations of developing countries and low level consumption. Today, in the same locations, for people with bigger budgets, it is now monolithic structures and narratives of progress.
I bought this little stamp in a mall in Port of Spain. I began to see these little stamps more and more over the years. Apparently they are quite commonly used for labeling, on arrival, in small shops? Why are they being labeled here in Trinidad? What would the value of labeling my work this way in narratives of development and progress? So far I have begun to label drawings of pedestals for politicians to stand upon. Within the narrative of "Development" this object can allow them to feel taller and more important or they could use it to hang themselves.
A friend, Cecile, offered the following comment on my blog:
"I've heard of "suitcase traders" using these stamps when importing goods that aren't labelled with a country of manufacture. Such a label is necessary to bring these goods here "legally". So, traders take these stamps with them to wherever they go to get their goods and if there happen to be any items which are untagged, they place a little "Made in China" stamp on to avoid any trouble with Customs."

"Little Gestures" from the "Tropical Night" series.

Little Gestures ( the 1st one )
This was my first drawing of the bench (peera ) which I called "little gestures" in 2006. Through the dialogues instigated by architect Sean Leonard at Alice Yard, this simple everyday object, enlisted into my symbolic vocabulary, became an object for design investigation by designer Marlon Darbeau
See further thoughts here.


Annie Paul said...

Glad to see you've resumed regular posts here, i hadn't looked in a while, but i've always enjoyed these peeps into your head.

Yes, China has insidiously captured a lot of ground all over the world, who could have anticipated this 30-40 yrs ago? your use of the Made in China stamp to raise questions about the narratives of development and progress we find ourselves inserted into are very timely and provocative.

Anonymous said...

Muchas gracias por escribir esto, se unbelieveably informativo y me dijo que una tonelada

Anonymous said...

Muy buen material.