“Nowadays the value of a product [seems to] depend more on … what’s on the outside.”
Born Chengdu, Sichuan, 1970
Jiao Xingtao’s website is named This Side Up. As a sculptor, he specialises in exposing the other sides of things, the ones most of us ignore. His theme is consumerism, but his focus is on its discards, the packages that lure the buyer with bright promises, only to be torn open and tossed aside. Green Diary (2007) is a screwed-up Wrigley’s gum wrapper; Happily Forgotten (2007) is a crushed Crest toothpaste box. These products are American in origin, but their packaging and ubiquity have made them seem Chinese: a 2008 survey found that 56 per cent of Chinese consumers thought Wrigley’s was a home-grown brand and 81 per cent believed Crest was one. Jiao Xingtao reproduces the packages’ rips and crumples as carefully as if he were creating grand monuments. Which, in a sense, he is. His works are monuments to waste, obsolescence and triviality—and the aesthetic charms of the most mundane consumables.