“Harmonious Product (合品)” makes use of found footage from Chinese-language advertisements, music videos, and news footage to consider the relationship between consumption—economic and otherwise—and self-understanding in China. The Australasian artist duo TZECHAR juxtaposes the quotidian commercialism of Chinese internet and television with the formulaic pomp of the international political ceremonies where dour heads of state stand at attention, then gorge themselves. The result is a highly specific, memetic portrait of Chinese expression. TZECHAR brings together eating vlogs (吃播) and news footage of Xi Jinping at economic forums and state banquets as China comes into its own as a global power, and as the rest of the world realizes this to be the case. The images refract and tessellate as “Harmonious Product (合品)” transitions from rapid cuts of marketing jingles to feasting streamers to clips of Xi consorting with politicians and business elites, while the soundtrack shifts from ambient electronic eeriness to noise-backed dirges about being productive.
“Harmonious Product (合品)” was originally commissioned as part of Can I Leave You?, a multimedia installation by Triple Canopy with CFGNY at the RISD Museum, which was on view from fall 2019 until summer 2020. The installation centered on the efforts of Americans to define themselves through products and portrayals of China, whether via porcelain bowls or travelogues, whether out of admiration or animus. (A planned screening of “Harmonious Product” was canceled because of the pandemic.)