Exhibition: Bamboo Melamine
Theaterworks’ new exhibition by artist Joe Bun Keo entitled Bamboo Melamine draws from the compound used to produce supposedly environmentally safe dishware composed mainly of bamboo pulp, melamine and formaldehyde. Some organizations warn about the emission of toxic chemicals while placing hot foods on the dishware, microwaving or cleaning it inside a dishwasher. The artist chose the words because “bamboo” references the artist’s ethnicity of being Southeast Asian, specially Khmer(Cambodian). The “melamine” is the sleek white coating of some particle wood, referencing the concept of the model minority; behaving outwardly “white” while hiding the Asian-ness. Thus, “bamboo melamine” represents the struggle of cultural identity by using the everyday objects of utility as a platform to assess the intertwined lives of commodities and people.