2021, Fine silver, CZ stones, 9½ x 3 x 5½’’, photo credit to Yuhao Liu
“We live in an era dominated by images, which has created a cultural phenomenon in which the value of things is often determined by appearance. Image has become everything, and we circulate these images through selfies and social media to construct a picture of ourselves that is artificially enhanced. In China, many individuals are fond of following the trend or pursuing the current popular things, and they are keen to take pictures of themselves with these things and share them on social media. Gradually people will pay more attention to the appearance of these things and often ignore their actual value as functional objects. In order to meet the requirements of these customers, designers and merchants will focus more on the appearance of the products. Many individuals follow something just because of its appearance, brand, or popularity. Coming from a Chinese perspective, I hope that my work can let the viewers think more about the intrinsic value of all objects rather than their external surface and popularity. I am interested in depicting functional objects as non-functional fetishized images of desire.
I have chosen to work in the traditional technique of filigree, which has a long history in many parts of the world that dates back to the Middle Ages. Filigree is a precise, complicated, time-consuming, and precious hand-crafted process—one that cannot be produced through technological means. I use this technique to satirize this social phenomenon of paying too much attention to the appearance of things. It is more important to discover the intrinsic value of these objects and the value they bring for us. In this era of machine production instead of labor, each object loses its uniqueness because it is produced so many times by machine. Because of its ubiquitousness, sometimes people seem even to ignore its presence. The products I rendered in filigree were carefully chosen because of the values given to them by social phenomena. I used labor-intensive craftsmanship to turn these products into genuine luxury items and redefine the value of these items. I want to use this precious filigree technique to wake the audience up and think again about what these objects really bring to us.”
Oudi Wan was born in Wuhan, China. She got her BFA degree from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCAD), Canada, and got her MFA degree from University of Wisconsin- Madison, US in 2021. Oudi’s work includes jewelry and small sculpture installation.