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The past gets personal in art show

RAG's new exhibit investigates the life-cycles of objects

How does the meaning of an item transfer through interpretation?

That is the question Richmond Art Gallery (RAG) asks in its latest exhibit Eternal Return.

Working with Richmond Museum, RAG has invited five local artists to select artefacts in the museum’s Migration Collection, Our Journeys Here, and created contemporary artworks based on their selections.

"The exhibition is about investigating the life-cycles of objects," said the curator Sunshine Frère.

“The artists interpret the historic objects from their own angle and relate them to personal experience, in that way, we look at how objects are valued and how ideas are transformed by looking at them in different ways.”

One of the artists, Anchi Lin, created a work inspired by a metal can sealer, which reminded Lin of her time as a child, working in a factory in Taiwan.

“The repetitive gesture of sealing cans with the metal sealer is similar to the repetitive gesture of enclosing packaging with plastic, which Lin and her family did in the factory,” said Frère.

In Lin’s show, the can sealer is displayed, but, with video showing Lin manipulating the sealer, and enclosing products with plastic, as she used to do.

Meanwhile, artist Lucien Durey created a series of standing and hanging sculptures made of glass fragments, emphasizing the bottles and fragments gathered from historically significant building sites in Richmond from the museum's collection.

Each artist allows people to immerse themselves in the exhibition through performance, video, sound, sculpture and photography.

Frère hopes that the Eternal Return exhibition will encourage the audience to “think about how meaning and value can change with objects, depending on who decides to do what with them.”