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Fashion and Beauty in the Time of Asia$
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S. Heijin Lee, Christina H. Moon, and Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479892150

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479892150.001.0001

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China: Through the Looking Glass

China: Through the Looking Glass

Race, Property, and the Possessive Investment in White Feelings

(p.41) 2 China: Through the Looking Glass
Fashion and Beauty in the Time of Asia

Minh-Ha T. Pham

NYU Press

This chapterargues that the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s China: Through the Looking Glass exhibition provides an exemplary case for studying the ways in which authorship is constituted not simply by the law but by a complex of race, knowledge, power, and emotions. As this exhibition demonstrates, Orientalism is a primary means by which Western fashion designers establish their privileged status as authors, as artistic agents specially endowed with the power of creating and controlling circuits of meanings not just about aesthetics and design but about race, representation, and value. In a strange twist of irony—but one that perfectly encapsulates the illogic of the inverted worldview through the looking glass—Western fashion’s use of Orientalist reproductions of “China” and “Asia” has enabled it to both draw and blur the lines between authors and copyists.

Keywords:   Orientalism, China, Metropolitan Museum of Art

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