November 2021 – February 2022
Ketty Zhang (she/her) is a Chinese Canadian artist based in Surrey whose practice is informed by notions of identity for people of the Chinese diaspora, the influences of consumerism and corporate culture. In her photographic series LUXE (2019), Zhang is guided by her attraction to objects of desire as she explores the systems of value that engross consumers. The refracting light of the sequins and lush fabrics depicted in the work activate the desire to touch and to possess, speaking to the coercive nature of the value hierarchies embedded in the aesthetics of fashion, which in turn reinforce our perception of class and status. The artist uses her iPhone to photograph what seem to be luxury products at fashion boutiques, department stores and dollar stores around Vancouver. Images of products that could be considered kitsch—cheap, mass-produced objects of popular culture—become nearly indistinguishable from materials that are marketed as high fashion, pointing to the systematic and absurd construction of value.
About the Artist | Ketty Zhang
Ketty Zhang (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist. Driven by her interest in popular culture and human-technology relations, her current practice focuses on micro-level narratives on consumerism, surveillance capitalism and corporate culture. Her work has been exhibited at Surrey Art Gallery, The Reach Gallery Museum, Vancouver Art Book Fair and Beijing Design Week among others.
“I took the images in the Luxe series at various luxury fashion boutiques, department stores and dollar stores in Vancouver. When I walk into these places, the first products that catch my eyes are always the shiny, glossy, glittery ones. We are inherently attracted to shiny things – research shows that from an evolutionary angle, this attraction is associated to our need for water. Things that could serve the purpose of fulfilling our innate needs get our attention first, whether we like it or not.
There are many similarities between the aesthetics offered by products at these stores, despite the different price points. Products are often made to look more valuable than they are, which reminds me from value theory that nothing is valuable in itself, but rather, there are specific signs of value that impose themselves upon the valueless.”