Conceptualizing Made in China for a museum exhibition

Ling, Wessie (2022) Conceptualizing Made in China for a museum exhibition. Fashion Theory: the Journal of Dress, Body and Culture, 25 (7). pp. 945-960. ISSN 1362-704X


The Wereldmuseum Rotterdam is planning to hold an exhibition on China in 2023 in which fashion and design are one of the exhibiting categories. In preparation for the event, the museum is proposing to use the cliché Made in China as a provocative title for the exhibition. A workshop with the museum curators was held in 2021 to question the materiality central to the stereotypes associated with the proposed phrase to inform the curatorial direction of the forthcoming exhibition. As a workshop contributor invited to address the inquiry, I have, in this article, examined the phrase itself and China as a place, heritage and concept. The country-of-origin effect of the “made in” label was taken to analyze the phrase. While the negative connotations of Made in China in the exhibition title might have an impact on the perception of the exhibition, two interlocking components - transcultural dynamics and a site of friction - arising from the labeling system constitute a curatorial concept within which Chineseness embedded in the museum fashion and design artifacts are the offspring of the typified multifaceted “China” exchange, connection, and transformation.

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