New Year's Feast: Beijing, 2014, is conceptual artist Rachel Lee Hovnanian's raw acerbic take on global narcissism during the celebration of the New Year's Feast. Rachel has observed people around the world staring into their digital devices. For this work, Rachel has created a 70 inch round dining table set in signature white, the traditional color of mourning. The family's distracted faces are displayed on individual monitors, set around the dining table indicating the way in which technology is taking over our lives. Universally recognized computer dings, that have become commonplace at dinner tables everywhere, complete the sensory experience.
Eight holiday guests appear disinterested in the finest delicacies prepared for their enjoyment including Peking Duck, Longevity Noodles and an elaborate sweet dessert cake. Small white lab mice are video projections munching away while the technologically distracted guests go through the motions celebrating their holiday. Duck, fish, prosperity dumplings, and snow peas are placed on the table symbolizing wealth, happiness, and good fortune. A side table features oranges, tangerines and a dragon-emblazoned cake. Looming overhead, a chandelier sculpture with red hanging envelopes filled with money signifies themes of prosperity and virtue.
Rachel's work suggests a dialogue about the fate of narcissistic family members at the holiday dining table. Existing within the dynamic and sometimes volatile cultural confines of technologically, close relationships,the work underscores the isolation and loss of mindfulness. With her sly wit, the artist juxtaposes the uncomfortable pairing of technology and domesticity, twisting traditional meanings that exist around the world, toward new frustrated purposes. Rachel's ghostly little historical lab mice appear free to enjoy the family’s good fortune, harmony and longevity, while family members and guests each participate in a compulsive manner on the Internet - isolated and unappreciative of the gifts at the New Year's Feast. It is a world wide phenomenon, their bodies are present but their minds, hearts and spirits are else where “ Ren tsai, shin bu tsai”