Crushed Cans

“Crushed Cans,” acrylic on canvas, from Crushed Cans, 1992-93


Gu Xiong’s Crushed red Coca Cola Cans embodies the contrast of his Chinese heritage and the cultural transformation he experienced after moving to Canada, with the universally recognizable Cola cans showing both English and Chinese text. This installation speaks to the individual as part of a group or community. The use of repetition, pattern and context as artworks forces us to imagine the personal connection between waste and the human experience. The crushed red Coca Cola cans show how Gu’s early experiences as a Chinese Canadian are intimately tied to the litter of consumer consumption.

In Gu’s own words:

“Crushed red Coca-Cola cans have made a deep impression on me. A lifeless object, in the process of being destroyed, finds a new life. No two crushed cans are the same, each one is unique. My past was crushed by realities beyond my control, but my new life was born from this devastation. Common objects made alike come to life when they are killed.”