Anthony Key is a British-Chinese artist whose practice explores cultural identity. His work aims to be both ironic and accessible, and locates itself in the “everyday”. His art is minimalist in form and is sculptural and object based. The objects are often seen as “ready-mades” and take the form of “shopping”. Anthony uses the process of repetition (echoing Buddhist philosophy) to form installations. The work appropriates and scavenges from art and cultural histories as it struggles to find/build a new identity to define the ever-changing position of British-Chineseness.
“The term bok gwai (white ghost/foreign devil) is a pejorative term used by local Chinese and aimed at the white colonizers of South China, after China’s defeat in the Opium wars. The title is used here not only to describe the piece but also to reference those historical interchanges between the British and the Chinese that resulted in the ‘coming home’ of former British/Chinese as migrants to the UK.
Up to this point I have used the tin foil Chinese takeaway carton intact as an iconic container to talk about immigrant cultures. I am now ‘deconstructing’ the carton. Instead of using them as containers I have flattened them out to make tin-foil plates that are stapled together to form a skin. This foil sheet is then pressed, burnished and formed around things. The sculpture that I have made here is a cast of the complete kitchen in my apartment here at IMMA, it’s memory impressed upon this foil skin.
When I came to Dublin the first thing I had to find was where I could purchase Chinese provisions to cook. Having done that I could then negotiate with my new world, in a sense, all new experiences are filtered through my kitchen. In order to survive their uncertain situations, immigrants take comfort and rely on their familiar food and a place to prepare this. I believe we carry a metaphorical and invisible kitchen around with us, so this is what I have built.” Anthony Key, Oct 2005