Big thanks to Bouke de Vries for allowing us to include his historically engaging exhibition catalog Studying Human Activity through the Recovery of Material Culture in cfile.campus. If you are a member, view the catalog, or begin your 30-day free trial.
Bouke de Vries studies history of civilization by singling out Chinese and Dutch ceramic art objects. He uses clay to talk about death. Throughout history, ceramic vessels have been an integral part of death ritual. The most obvious, urns. In less obvious ritual, ceramic objects are buried with the corpse and belongings of the deceased. In parts of the East, Egypt namely, it is believed that burial with ceramic objects will help in the afterlife.
Reassembling Chinese and Dutch ceramics to talk about death, de Vries alludes to the cyclical nature of clay; it is made and dug from within the earth, where it will return until it is perhaps dug up again. And this is the story will almost all material culture.
Check out Bill Rodgers’ review of de Vries exhibition here.
“Made from the very earth of the land of their origin and primordially transformed by fire, the partly Chinese and partly Dutch ceramics are chosen for their important place in ceramics history. De Vries often works with these two, the Chinese carry a large variety of materials and the Delftware has such an important place in his native Dutch history and culture. The Chinese works cover the Han, Tang, Ming and Qing dynasties. Some items were grave goods, intended to help the deceased in the afterlife; a common cultural phenomenon, which almost seems to be a universal approach to death in ancient cultures. Other items are from marine archaeology – ships laden with ceramics, lost and lying undisturbed on the sea floor for hundreds of years before being found again in recent decades. The Dutch works focus on 17th- and 18th-century fragments of white Delftware, itself a material originally conceived to mimic Chinese porcelain.”- Bill Rodgers
“In these works, the archeological remnants are the jumping off point for a new narrative, telling new stories. Perhaps one day they too will disappear back into the earth. And will again be found in some unimagined future. What stories will they tell then?”- Bouke de Vries
Don’t miss the opportunity to view this amazing exhibition in cfile.campus. If you are a member, view the catalog, or begin your 30-day free trial.