Factories, assembly lines, production, production, production! These regiments have become synonymous with the growing economy of China. A market in which products are continuously pumped out with the titular label, ‘Made in China’. As a new and powerful wave of first generation immigrants comes to age in our times outside of their cultural roots, what is their connection to being ‘Made in China’ as well? Where do they fit in this culturally hybrid world?
Shellie Zhang’s contemporary art series Made in China is a collection of fourteen images of mostly mass-produced objects and chachkis from China as well as one self-portrait of the artist, to be identified as yet another product of her homeland. Made in China comes from Zhang’s own exploration of identity as a first generation Chinese Canadian woman, having to relearn certain aspects of her history, signage, and motifs found in the objects she has chosen to document. Objects such as Chairman Mao’s little red book of communism clash with an unmarked pack of cigarettes, which are today only provided to employees of the government as a symbol of class and exclusivity. Within these objects Zhang searches and learns of her China.
Shellie Zhang is a Toronto-based artist who was born in Beijing and raised in various parts of China, the United States, and Canada. She has exhibited at venues including WORKJAM (Beijing), the OCAD U Student Gallery (Toronto), Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (Toronto), and the 2014 Feminist Art Conference (Toronto). She has also been the recipient of grants such as the RBC Museum Emerging Professional Grant and awards such as the University of Toronto’s Student Engagement in the Arts Award.