Yarra River Cargo Project 2005-2016
The Yarra River Cargo Project
The Yarra River Cargo Project is an ongoing Sculpture series which documents the fictitious discovery of a medieval Chinese trade vessel laden with export goods that foundered in the mud of the Yarra River Melbourne Australia, and was unable to set sail again. It is well documented that the Chinese were a formidable and expansionist naval power in the 15th C.
The use of Ancient Chinese and Contemporary American Cultural icons is a deliberate fusing of two diametrically opposed and disparate Cultural signifiers which illustrates and accentuates the dislocating nature of globalization. By becoming homogenized, we lose centrality, we become culturally diffused, without ownership of place, ideas, information or, indeed history.
The narrative - In 2001 I was walking along the banks of the Yarra River, Melbourne in the vicinity of the then fledgling Docklands development, when I stumbled across a trove of Artifacts, also evidence of a wooden vessel. The carbon dating of the timber found places the vessel to approximately 1400 AD, well before the time of First historically accredited (if fleeting) European visitations by the Portuguese. It is speculated from timber remains and the various artifacts found that the site constitutes a Medieval Chinese trade vessel laden with goods that may have foundered in the mud of the Yarra, and became damaged or unable to set sail again. After the completeion of the Dockland precent the intial wreck site was forever lost...
The objects playfully draw on notions of globalization, ‘brand piracy’ and the ownership of intellectual property within the realm of the homogenized global mass market. The choice of China as the origin of these ‘15th Century Export Wares’ is poignant today as we witness the remarkable ascendancy of China as the industrial hub of 21st Century Capitalism’s unquenchable hunger for mass consumer goods worldwide.
The project works on a number of levels. The sculptures themselves being the departure point for ideas centered around Australia, history, cultural identity and appropriation. New discoveries continue to be made and a short Documentary film is currently in the works- watch this space!
Dale Cox 2005- 2016