Installation view of Stephanie Syjuco's solo exhibition RAIDERS, 2011MORE about this artwork
For RAIDERS, her first solo exhibition at Catharine Clark Gallery in 2012, Syjuco amassed a re-assembled collection of antique vessels by downloading publicly available images from their online database and printing them at the actual sizes listed on the site.
Adhered to laser-cut wooden backings and gathered in groups, the prop- like objects at first glance appear to be a collection of valued cultural objects. Upon closer inspection, the vessels, now degraded and flattened, have been rendered ineffective, removed from their original usage, and then again from their institutional context.
By using open online sources, Syjuco investigates how we participate in the construction of culture and how the accessibility of the internet can facilitate its redistribution. On a more personal level, Syjuco chose Asian vessels as a way of exploring her own heritage and how it may or may not be found in these representations. “For me there is a murkiness of where my identifications lie, since I am supposed to have a connection to the original objects’ histories.”
Already rife with cultural and historic meaning, the vessels, jars, bowls, and vases—curvaceous items meant to contain things—also represent femininity and maternity, signifying gender roles, as well as ethnic ones. The works in RAIDERS delve into issues of acquisition, appropriation, and the accumulation of cultural capital through international “booty.” The title of the exhibition—a play both on the idea of piracy and a nod to the antiques-rescuing archeologist Indiana Jones—raises a question: who is the raider: the artist or the institution?