Melamine Majesty

2009

 

The main entrances to ancient Chinese palaces and temples often had grand doors with studds arranged in rows. These studs indicated rankings in the feudal hierarchy and served to ward off aggression. The studs on the gate of the Forbidden City in Beijing are made of brass and plated with gold. The number nine represented the supremacy of the monarch; thus all gates used by the emperor had nine rows of nine studs (81), while gates used by princes and barons typically had nine rows of steven studs (63) or seven rows of seven (49). Here in Melamine Majesty, five rows of nine, ordinary Melamine bowls are composed as halves of a ficticious gate, totaling go "studs". (In ancient China, the number of "nine" was sometimes combined with "five" to represent imperial majesty.) Using inexpensive bowls that are so common in everyday Chinese life, rather than gold-plated brass studs, but adhering to the supremacy of the monach through the number nine, an imaginary gate is generated that intentionally undermines authority and historical meaning.