Fostering cultural understanding: mirroring ways of living in Providence, RI, USA and Beijing, PRC
Date of Award
Master in Interior Architecture
Over the last several decades, the relationship between the US and China has suffered twists and turns, rooted in different ideologies and social foundations. The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent surge of anti-Asian violence in the US contributed to the exacerbation of this global controversy, triggering an undeclared Cold War. However, in history over hundred years, there was a real dialogue between the US and China through business trade. The high classes in the US were used to buy Chinese export commodities, such as luxury furnitures and porcelain, and similarly, Chinese merchants bought American goods, which caused naturally lead to an ideological exchange. By contrast today, the US and China are in the midst of a trade war. The exhibition describes the interrupted communication, the loss of cultural sharing, and the tremendous changes in the relationship between the American and Chinese societies since the 18th century. This is a space which aims to understand socio-political changes, and promote cooperation between these two powerful countries.
Living rooms and their contents are chosen as a social and cultural metaphor to describe the shifting relationship between the US and China, as the living room is the intersection space in a house that combines private experience and social activities. There are 10 living rooms in the exhibition, which are divided into two groups: one group for the US and one group for China. And at the end of the exhibition, there will be a contemporary living room, which provokes a conversation among audiences from these two countries. The items will be displayed in the stacking boxes system which provokes the role of museum preservation. The magnifying glass on them will highlight the details of the furniture, through which audience can find some similarity.
Amid the latest political tension between the US and China, universities seemed to be the only place where cultural exchange remains intact, mostly because of the diversity of students' backgrounds. The Rhode Island School of Design and Tsinghua University in Beijing will be the sites of this collaborative exhibition, due to the similarities and affiliation between these two well known institutions. The exhibition will be shown in the art museums of the two schools simultaneously, allowing audiences in America and in China to share their comments in real time. The items will be displayed in a series of reconstructed Living Rooms from different time periods, but rather than only provide a pure aesthetic experience through style, furniture, and decorations, the spaces will work as places of encounter where the lost communication between the two countries will be reconstructed through acts of intimate cultural exchange.
Wu, Jiarui Tina, "Fostering cultural understanding: mirroring ways of living in Providence, RI, USA and Beijing, PRC" (2021). Masters Theses. 727.
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View exhibition online: Jiarui Wu, FOSTERING CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING: MIRRORING WAYS OF LIVING IN PROVIDENCE, RI, USA AND BEIJING, PRC