kè kǔ nài láo (刻苦耐劳)
Referencing but modifying the Good Morning towel as an iconic symbol of domesticity and industriousness, this work employs cultural vernacular to comment simultaneously on ideas around what it is to be Chinese, and on the dislocating experience of migration and operating outside familiar cultural and societal norms.
“My family are Chinese Malaysians – Hakka people who escaped famine in Southern China around the turn of the 20th Century and risked their lives on the passage to Malaysia only to find themselves indentured labourers or subsistence farmers squatting on government land. They endured the Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War II which featured persecution and execution of Chinese residents and following the war were forcibly relocated into secured camps featuring armed guards, curfews and controlled food rationing.
“The title is an idiom, kè kǔ nài láo, that roughly translates as ‘to bear hardships and work hard’. It can also represent a quality summed up as ‘assiduous and long-suffering, hard-working and capable of overcoming adversity’. This idiom can be found in the lower right corner of each towel replacing the text that typically features within the Good Morning towel.” – Ross Liew.
Changing Lanes is a collaborative project between Artweek and Heart of the City, bringing together projects that will transform Auckland’s urban spaces as part of Artweek. Funded by Heart of the City.
The project aims to help create connections in our community, provide opportunities for artists and enhance public spaces. A selection of leading New Zealand artists will activate city centre laneways and these projects will reference Auckland's unique heritage and signal the changing nature of the city's urban spaces and potential future use of the sites.
Part of Artweek in the City Centre.