Wax Seal

Huang Yongping


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Object Detail

ink and sealing wax on rice paper
33 x 680 cm
Wax Seal parodies a legal document in a scroll depicting thirty-five Hong Kong islands and a mixture of treaties, pacts and agreements. As well as symbolic animals drawn in spare ink and brush, it is covered with official-looking stamps, symbols of French and British imperial power, and important red seals. The work references the Treaty of Nanking, signed on August 29, 1842, that ceded Hong Kong to the British. Huang Yongping asks us to consider the meaning of ‘sovereignty’, a term that entered the Chinese language only with the creation of the treaty ports after the mid-nineteenth century Opium Wars, a crushing humiliation for the Qing empire that continues to resonate in Chinese foreign policy. Wax Seal, with its beautiful calligraphy, and its stamps and seals, reflects on how nations and peoples are hostage to games played by the powerful.
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