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The Transorientalist Nature of the Blue-and-White Porcelain Aesthetic

by Michelle Guo

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The aesthetic of blue-and-white porcelain, when used by Western designers, is often perceived as a form of neo-chinoiserie that appropriates and bastardises porcelain in a form of colonial power. These designers are perceived to be effacing and unfaithfully presenting a cultural aesthetic that does not truly belong to them; that they only acquire through colonial power. When exhibited together in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2015 exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass [1] the Museum was critiqued for ‘using the imagery and style associated with China as manipulable, unconstrained to China itself.’ [2] In contrast to the works by these Western designers, the works by Guo Pei and Li Xiaofeng can be interpreted as reclaiming this aesthetic.

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