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Image of Looty — Elgin’s Gift

Fred Han Chang Liang , b. 1964

Looty — Elgin’s Gift

2017
49 x 65 1/2 in. (124 x 166 cm)

Medium and Support: Papercut on Arches
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Accession Number: 2018.60

Commentary

Created on campus as an Edward E. Elson Artist-in-Residence and included in the exhibition, Convergence, the delicate and intricate papercut Looty depicts a dog stolen from the Empress Dowager by British soldiers during the Second Opium War and presented as a gift to Queen Victoria in 1861. The first Pekingese dog in Britain, Looty, inspired a fashion for the breed in well-to-do society. Now ubiquitous, the breed’s original imperial status has been lost. Although its origins remain in the name of the breed, this history has been elided as suggested by the barely discernible puppy buried in the all- white papercut. Referring to the dissolution and synthesis that occurs when cultures converge Looty explores the movement and subsequent dissemination, appropriation, and transformation of cultural ideas, objects, and peoples.

________

Boston-based artist Fred Liang grew up in China
during the Cultural Revolution. Inspired by Song
Dynasty scroll paintings and jian zhi, the traditional
Chinese art of cut paper, the artist transforms paper
into delicately layered, often three-dimensional
worlds that bridge tradition and innovation,
and east and west in drawings, sculptures, and
installation.

Created by Liang here on campus during his time
as an Edward E. Elson Artist-in-Residence, the
delicate and intricate papercut Looty depicts the
dog stolen from the Empress Dowager Cixi by
British soldiers during the Second Opium War and
presented as a gift to Queen Victoria in 1861.
The first Pekingese dog in Britain, Looty became
all the rage in fashionable society. Now ubiquitous,
the breed’s original Imperial status has been lost;
although its origins remain in the name of the
breed, this history has been elided as suggested
by the barely discernible puppy buried in the
all-white drawing. Referencing the dissolution
and synthesis that occurs when cultures converge,
Looty explores the movement and subsequent
dissemination, appropriation, and transformation
of cultural ideas, objects, and peoples.

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