Shortly before I departed Guangzhou, I went shopping with Michael in search of 剪纸, papercut art, something Foshan was famous for, prior to its becoming yet another unrecognisable manufacturing town. Our wanderings through the more salubrious markets of Haizhu brought nothing besides a quite circuitous digression where I thought that while the Pearl River Delta is wholesale, Guangzhou is retail.
In the opposite hemisphere, at what was once the home of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie which traded across the orient and to Canton, Amsterdam artist Dylan Graham is exhibiting his papercut installation at de Vleeshal.
His work for De Vleeshal marks Graham`s first combination of the excessive decorativeness of his ornaments with a large scale installation. The installation consists of two layers. The outer layer is constituted by a large, dome-like structure reminiscent of De Vleeshal`s arched ceiling. However, instead of Gothic ornaments, the dome incorporates images of slavery. The second layer is formed by a small, modest building; an office filled with treasures from colonial times.
Dylan Graham`s work is a commentary on both the ostensibly peaceable voyages of discovery made in the days of the Dutch East India Company, and our present reality of refugees, adventurers and multinationals. In juxtaposing the perspectives of the vanquished and the vanquishers, Graham offers a subtle analysis of historical events – an analysis undertaken in what seems to be a very different time.