Chan Tao Wai Chan (Desmond)
Spray paint on board
91cm x 76 cm (unframed)
Price: $4444 (sold only as a set)
The term “hegemony” is defined as the power or dominance, which small social groups hold over the majority of people in society. It is not only about social power itself, but also a method for gaining and maintaining power. The key idea of ‘Cultural Hegemony’, by Antonio Gramsci, was to acknowledge that such power and control does not only come from physical power but also cultural domination, and it is often hidden within cultural texts, it is the idea of a dominant group legitimising their power through culture. Mass media uniquely introduce elements into individuals’ consciousness by consent, and the power of mass media is the subtleness of how it influences their audiences, to perceive social roles and routine personal activities. Advertisements on social media for example, encourage audiences to consider themselves as market rather than public, as consumer rather than citizens. Gramsci famously described it as ‘predominance obtained by consent’. Power comes from consents, physical power is nothing compared to the people’s belief.
In the artwork, I spray painted stencils of different characters, aesthetically inspired by Ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e, literally translated into “Pictures of the Floating World,” refers to the traditional art form of the Japanese woodblock prints and paintings from the Edo period. It is a narration of leisure scenery, city life, actors, landscapes and erotic scene. But Ukiyo-e is not only an aesthetic representation of that pleasant historical period. It also contained an implicit criticism to the hedonism and materialism. Through the context of cultural hegemony, I discovered this interesting connection between, which led me to reference Ukiyo-e in this artwork.