JIA JIA CHEN
In the metaphysical realm erasure is deemed impossible, everything leaves a trace. The past exists in perpetuity, it informs the present and shapes the future, which in turn conditions how we frame the past. And from the material point of view, the notion of erasure sets forth an inquiry into the physical matter of things. Can a thing actually be unmade? According to the laws of thermodynamics, energy (matter) cannot be lost, rather it is essentially transformed into a new state of being.
To Erase? documents a speculative experiment that sets out to erase a formal material creation whilst still in a malleable plastic state. The initial physical form that was intended for ‘completion’, is now repurposed. Completion here refers to the usual practice of transforming ceramic material from ‘greenware’ (raw clay) to glazed, high-fired rigid ‘stoneware’ (vitrified clay), in order to render it ‘functional’. As a ceramicist, the ‘destruction’ of unsatisfactory work whilst in its green state is a common occurrence, allowing the clay to be recycled and re-used.
This work operates as a metaphorical vehicle that speaks to broader societal, environmental and political concerns through the provocation of the coexistence of dual realities within virtual and physical environments. To erase in this context is to remove the visual traces of artistic labour; to push out, to flatten, and deconstruct. In ‘completing’ this operation, the physical clay matter has been permanently reconfigured and reclaimed for future use. Consequently, the work no longer exists in the material world, it has been transposed into a digital archive and into the realm of memory.
A new existence.
Jia Jia Chen is a ceramicist working across art, design and food. Her interdisciplinary approach is driven by her interest in exploring the diverse applications of the material through function, decoration and industry within the framework of creative production. Born in China and raised in Australia, her practise draws inspiration from both Eastern and Western aesthetics; merging and re-interpreting iconic symbols into new and personal expressions whilst alluding to its complex history of cultural and economic exchange. She engages with the process of making as a transposing of conscious and unconscious ideas, the internal to the external and obverse the physical to the metaphysical. Machinery and hands are the tools that enable the conduit interflow between mind and matter cycling through a systematic expansion of intention, creation and reflection via the medium of ceramics.
Chen completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours at RMIT and is currently in her final year of the Master’s of Contemporary Art at VCA. She has collaborated with Speak Percussion for Assembly Operation exploring the aural qualities of ceramics and participated in Design Week 2019 with But First We Eat that referenced the long and intimate history between ceramics and food.
Jia Jia Chen, 'To Erase...' (version 2), 2020, stoneware, video 4.56min