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Ketna Patel uses grand narratives and references to renaissance paintings that are embedded in all our collective consciousness. She attempts to flatten time, blur geographical boundaries, and bring to the fore a certain ‘consumption’ of contemporary culture that seems to be at a major penultimate moment before it eats itself into oblivion. There is beauty and death in this moment, and underneath it all, a small seed of a new beginning.
Here, Leonardo Vinci's 'Last Supper' painting has been transmuted into Ketna Patel's 'The Last Asian Supper'.
In ‘The Last Asian Supper’, several individuals are having a junk food picnic in the setting sun. Strewn with litter, the scene shows them happily enjoying themselves, oblivious to the darkness that is about to fall around themselves.
In the background is a collage of famous Asian architecture, including the Borobudur temples, The Hong Kong and Shanghai bank, the Twin Towers of Malaysia, the Taj Mahal in India and the Gardens on the Bay in Singapore. The setting sun is a deliberate metaphor for the transition of ‘lightness’ to ‘darkness’. Instead of the picnicers getting up and tidying themselves, they seem to be oblivious to time and the repercussions of their self-indulgence.
The ‘karaoke’ style visualization with its saturated colours is also deliberate, re-endorsing the ‘unreal’ and ‘make believe’ aspects of our illusory, maya world (‘Maya’ in Sanskrit means ‘illusion’)
The title Heterotopia refers to the essay ‘Of Other Spaces’, written by Michel Foucault in 1967. This is a concept of ‘spaces of otherness’, which are neither here nor there, that are simultaneously physical and mental, such as the moment you wake up after a dream, or the moment when you see yourself in the mirror. It could also be a moment of realization, which we individually observe; a moment of understanding that our beautiful and complex civilization is pregnant with death.
For many, Foucault’s essay has helped crystallize an ongoing polemic about our ‘re-mix’ society. A society where nothing is original, and we swim, even wallow in the fragmentary and chaotic currents of change, forever legitimizing our expressions by references to the past.