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Heather Straka: The Asian

Heather Straka: The Asian

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  • Sat 7 Jan ’12, 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Sun 8 Jan ’12, 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Mon 9 Jan ’12, 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Tue 10 Jan ’12, 1:30pm – 4:00pm
  • Sun 11 Mar ’12, 1:00pm – 4:00pm
  • View all sessions


Ashburton Art Gallery and Heritage Centre, 327 West St, Ashburton


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission


Venue website

Exhibition opening and artist talk - Saturday 10th December 1:30pm.

The Asian is the first major solo exhibition by Heather Straka in a New Zealand public art gallery. This installation is comprised of an original painting by Straka and fifty copies produced by fifty Chinese artisans working from the Dafen Oil Painting Village in the Longgang District of Shenzhen.

Straka spent a sustained period on the ground in China, discussing the ideas and implications of her project with the copy artists and company representatives from the Dafen Village, then inviting the artists to sign their versions of her ‘Asian Girl’ painting.

The twist in this project is that Straka has sent her contemporary version of an early 20th century Shanghai poster girl, to be copied at its cultural source. The Asian brings into question the relationship between the original and replica because, as the commissioning artist, Straka has not only duplicated aspects of the Shanghai poster girl tradition, she has also intentionally concealed her hand by displaying all the paintings together, in a salon-style hang, without distinguishing her original.

As an image of desire, the Shanghai poster girl became an important marketing device for selling consumer goods to the growing urban Chinese middle classes between the early 1920s and mid 1930s. The glamorous sexy modern Asian woman became ubiquitous in this period, appearing in newspapers, magazines, billboard campaigns, popular fiction and films. She became the emblem for a new modernised China and was increasingly promoted as an attainable fantasy for a new generation of middle to upper class emancipated women.

The Asian will open on Saturday 10th December with an artist talk commencing at 1:30pm.

A Dunedin Public Art Gallery touring exhibition.

Image: Heather Straka, The Asian, 2009, Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of the artist.

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