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Karen Tam

Castiglione's Insect Mimics


Karen Tam
Born in Montreal in 1977


Castiglione's Insect Mimics




Sequins, steel pins, polystyrene, wool


Variable dimensions


Purchase, Canada Council for the Arts' New Chapter program, inv. 2017.828.1-7


Quebec and Canadian Art

The oeuvre of Karen Tam, who is of Chinese descent, deals with the commodification of cultures and explores the concept of “chinoiserie.” For this series of vases, executed in the context of her artist’s residence, she drew her inspiration from a set of eighteenth-century Chinese ceramic works in the Museum’s collection; these are in the Japanese Imari style. She alludes to China’s role as a mass-producer when it was manufacturing that type of porcelain to satisfy the European demand that Japan had difficulty in meeting. By gluing the sequins on the vases one by one to imitate the Imari style, she counters the “Made in China” stereotype with her painstaking technique. Moreover, to clearly indicate that the objects were made locally, she has also affixed a “Montreal” seal to each vase.

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