Semiprecious: Bongs, Art and Auctions

by Ulrik


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Helsinki-based ceramics artist/designer Man Yau has crafted a series of remarkably elegant, conceptual sculptures that look and feel like a million dollars. They’re the sort of trophy-like objects that you might secretly dream of being able to afford - when you move into that swanky new Lower Eastside apartment where Apartamento and Monocle magazines are casually interspersed on the charmingly weathered upholstery of your vintage Eames sofas. However, these sculptures come with an interesting catch; they’re actually fully functional bongs ready to be filled with potent Mary Jane and get you high as a kite.

The project's marked difference between contrasting sensibilities is refreshingly obvious. There’s an articulation of ‘high society’ vs. ‘low-brow wastedness’, of ‘stiff upper lip’ vs. ‘balls out fun’ at play in the Semiprecious concept. According to Man Yau and her team of conceptual creatives, it’s all about questioning our conception of value and status. And the young designer/artist really went all out as the painstakingly extravagant bongs were, in a Duchampian fashion, auctioned off in Bukowskis, Helsinki’s oldest, most reputable auction house, located in the center of the city. In this way, by juxtaposing opposing value systems through the unlikely medium of ceramics, Semiprecious poignantly explores how value and status often come to define who we are and how we act.

Whether wealthy dowagers threw abundant wads of Euros at Man Yau’s sculptures, or if weed-craving black metal heads showed up and made bids on the curious auction pieces remains to be heard.

But one thing is for certain: this is an interesting concept with a beautifully ambiguous outcome and we certainly wouldn’t mind having a few of these 16th century Chinese nobility-inspired badboys standing around the AIAIAI office.

Check out more on Man Yau’s Semiprecious project and get a comprehsive insight into the creative process here: