Donald & Era Farnsworth
Alice Rowing (Cultural Theme Park series), 2017
mixed media on kakishibu- treated Japanese paper, coated with hand-crafted paint, archival print with watercolor, acrylic ink and acrylic paint, mounted on scroll
image: 34 x 23 in; scroll: 60 x 27 in.

The Cultural Theme Park series by Donald and Era Farnsworth presents a satirical indictment of the corrosive effects that globalization, tourism, and unimaginative ‘development’ have wrought on the world’s cultural landscape. In particular, the series lampoons the efforts of Chinese developers and government officials to create massive theme parks dubbed “Cultural Tourism Cities,” where historic buildings are often demolished to make way for Disneyesque “authentic replicas.” These state-funded replicas are increasingly surreal in their bids for tourist attention; one enormous, Muslim-themed attraction features architecture mimicking Islamic monuments like the Taj Mahal, as well as dance performances by women from China’s largest Muslim ethnicity dressed in traditional garb – which can also be purchased in children’s sizes at the gift shop.