In this new series of work, Streitmatter challenges notions of service and gendered roles. Metal plates and serving trays are ubiquitous household items, commonly seen in South and Southeast Asia. They’re often used for preparing, cooking and serving food. In Vietnam, they are mostly used by women—who largely serve in the hospitality industry, whether this is in kitchens, hotels, or private homes. Whereas the idea of service is seen as a duty that men largely perform when serving the military in the army.
The large trays can also be seen to resemble shields, therefore could symbolize a type of armour. Streitmatter coats the stainless steel serving trays with a watercolor ground, which allows him to paint contemporary portraits of women on the metal surfaces as if painting on watercolor paper. In doing so, Streitmatter hopes to collapse these identities and thus destabilize conventional notions of the domesticized Saigon woman, or the warrior male.
Streitmatter wants to show that there is no hierarchy or inequality between the two types of service: that one can be strong and serve at the same time. All service is to be recognized and celebrated.
'Prophilia' is part of SPRMRKT Vietnam: A Cultural Showcase—the first of an annual cultural showcase series organised by SPRMRKT, in which we aim to present the best of contemporary culture from the region. Taking place over 8 Jan—20 March 2018, #SPRMRKTVietnam is a cultural showcase to promote the best of Vietnam's contemporary culture through food, art and design.
SPRMRKT STPI, Singapore
January 11 - February 15, 2018