An exhibition called Cola Project doesn’t at first sound entirely new: Coca Cola, consumer culture, the power of advertising—these have all been considered before, not least of all by Chinese artists assessing the impact of global capitalism on traditional aesthetics and values.
This recent show at Gallery 4A in Sydney’s Chinatown, however, took a different perspective, and considered cola the sticky liquid rather than the clout of its global logo. After analysing the effects of consumerism on images, it appears that what you are left with is the object, and the ‘stuff’ of material culture.
Cola Project is currently the signature work of young, Beijing-based artist, He Xiangyu, and one that has been doing the international rounds since first showing in Beijing in 2010. 4A brought it to Sydney as part of their ongoing program to situate Australian art within the context of the Asia Pacific, bringing Asian exhibitions to Australia and recognising the Asian in Australian work. This, He Xiangyu’s third major art project, helps underscore this geographical and cultural proximity, if only for its acknowledgement of the finite—and increasingly crowded—nature of our physical world.