“SHE”: international women artists at Shanghai Long Museum West Bund

The Shanghai exhibition features select work by international women artists from the Long Museum collection and important loans.

Launched at the end of July 2016, “SHE: International Women Artists Exhibition” at Shanghai Long Museum West Bund presents a collection of works by female artists that are, according to curator Wang Wei, “gathered together not only by their gender, but also by the true creativity”.

Jiang Jie, 'Ready Go', 2009, installation view at the Long Museum West Bung, Shanghai. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Jiang Jie, ‘Ready Go’, 2009, installation view at the Long Museum West Bung, Shanghai. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Exhibitions of women’s art have been hesitant to define women’s art as ‘Other’ and yet seek to produce a unity of concerns or sensibilities that are of women’s experience. Key exhibitions of the last 10 years such as “WACK: Art and the Feminist Revolution” (2007) at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, “elles@centrepompidou” (2009) at Centre Pompidou in Paris or “GOOD GIRLS: memory, desire, power” (2013) at National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest have been thematic rather than chorological.

Jiang Jie, 'Ready Go', 2009, installation view at the Long Museum West Bung, Shanghai. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Jiang Jie, ‘Ready Go’, 2009, installation view at the Long Museum West Bung, Shanghai. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

The new exhibition “SHE: International Women Artists Exhibition”, at the Long Museum West Bund until 30 October 2016, is also not a survey but a compilation with much of the work, by 105 artists from 13 countries spanning over 10 centuries, being drawn form the depths of the existing Long Museum collection. This amazing resource is augmented by some cleverly conceived loans. For curator Wang Wei it is a courageous and subtle statement, forging a new trajectory for the women’s art exhibition, away from gendered politics and activism towards involvement and purpose.

"She: International Women Artists Exhibition" (2016), Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, with, Nagasawa Ikumi, 'Released Birds', 2007 (left). Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

“She: International Women Artists Exhibition” (2016), Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, with, Nagasawa Ikumi, ‘Released Birds’, 2007 (left). Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

For this reason perhaps Wang eschews many of the established figures who have come to stand for feminist practice. There is no Martha Rosler, Mary Kelly, Carolee Schneemann, and despite the historic sweep no Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven or Claude Cahun. Wang produces a reading of women’s art aligned to parity of form, subject and attitude with art in general. Not different, not clamouring, but suggesting simply, as Wang states, “how much a society concerns about women’s living and mental conditions symbolizes the level of civilization.”

Writing for Blouin Artinfo about the show Claire Bouchara says:

Chinese female artists are commonly underrepresented in the country’s art scene, overshadowed by their male counterparts. According to Wang Wei, this is partly due to the pressure women face regarding family duties and other social challenges.

b.jpg Mona Hatoum, 'Suspended', 2011, Installation view at Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, 2016. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Mona Hatoum, ‘Suspended’, 2011, Installation view at Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, 2016. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

“SHE” divides the show into four themes that reflect the spirit of Simone de Beauvoir’s words, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” The sections are “The Annihilation of Self”, “The Liberation of Self”, “The Introspection of Self” and “The Expression of Self”. They imply not separate states of being but a journey of self-affirmation and empowerment. In keeping with this reading the themes are not marked in the show so that transition between them is fluid.

"She: International Women Artists Exhibition", (2016) Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, ground floor gallery with Louise Bourgeois, 'Crouching Spider', 2003. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

“She: International Women Artists Exhibition”, (2016) Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, ground floor gallery with Louise Bourgeois, ‘Crouching Spider’, 2003. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

The scene is set by three elegantly poised sculptures, arranged in an oblique triangle against the nave-like orientation of the galleries. A smooth concrete wall hides the works from one another, averting visual conflict, but retaining a sense of spatial continuity between them. The first impression is Louise BourgeoisCrouching Spider (2003), hunkering lower than some versions of this emblematic Bourgeois motif. The form commands the huge space making it a secure, albeit not very homely, refuge with a protector who means business.

Yoko Ono, 'To See The Sky', 2015, with in the foreground, Xiang Jing 'Otherworld — Will Things Ever get Better', 2011. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Yoko Ono, ‘To See The Sky’, 2015, with in the foreground, Xiang Jing ‘Otherworld — Will Things Ever get Better’, 2011. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Hugging the wall with her back to the spider, but gently turning to give it a steady look is Otherworld — Will Things Ever get Better (2011), a sculpture by Xiang Jing of a rose grey horse. Classical, but with a cute tousled main and a synthetic sheen, the sculpture conveys an uneasy balance between aloof irony and nature. Yoko Ono’s To See The Sky (2015) provides a different means of rising above the world. The work is a simple free-standing spiral staircase, painted bright blue – leading nowhere but upwards. Visitors are invited to climb the stairs one person at a time. Maybe Ono’s presence in this exhibition, in this particular place, is the most stridently gendered statement of the show as it is a reworking of Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912).

The transatlantic hit of the New York Armory Show I of 1913, where Duchamp’s painting pivots on the dismantled figure of a naked woman, reduced to abstract forms, Ono’s sculpture reverses many of the tenets of Duchamp’s painting, notably the colour and the direction of movement. But, it is the displacement of the work itself that is beguiling. Duchamp’s work travelled from Europe to the United States. Ono, an Asian artist, resident in the United States, initiates a transpacific movement, suggesting new structures and blue-sky thinking.

Adjustment is required after the drama of these commanding works to appreciate the numerous subtle paintings hung close by, particularly a brave collection of works on paper, including the earliest work in the show, a measured set of Chinese characters from the 13th century Song dynasty. Empress Yang Meizi’s Quatrain on spring’s radiance is an inscription on an oval fan connecting the Empress’ personal reflections on mortality to an image that was once on the reverse.

Three luminous abstract works, from left to right, Beatriz Milhazes, 'Queimadinho', 2014, Bridget Riley, 'Coda', 2016 and Joan Mitchell, 'Afternoon', 1969-70. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Three luminous abstract works, from left to right, Beatriz Milhazes, ‘Queimadinho’, 2014, Bridget Riley, ‘Coda’, 2016 and Joan Mitchell, ‘Afternoon’, 1969-70. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Wang has a way of pinpointing commonalities between diverse works, such as in the particular raw coloration of three different abstract paintings by Brazilian Beatriz Milhazes, Bridget Riley from the United Kingdom, and US artist Joan Mitchell. Both modernism and socialist realism are strongly felt too, suggesting not a feminine alternative but thoughtful participation with common concerns. Tracy DiTolla suggests:

Feminist artists often embraced alternative media, incorporating fabric, fiber, performance, and video as these materials did not have the same historically male-dominated precedent that painting and sculpture carried.

"She: International Women Artists Exhibition" (2016), Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, with foreground, Shirin Neshat, 'Untitled' (from "Women of Allah Series"), 1994-2015 and background, Xiao Lu, 'Dialogue', 1989. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

“She: International Women Artists Exhibition” (2016), Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, with foreground, Shirin Neshat, ‘Untitled’ (from “Women of Allah Series”), 1994-2015 and background, Xiao Lu, ‘Dialogue’, 1989. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Wang, however, refuses to allow the work to suggest feminine tropes or idioms. For example, where Yayoi Kusama’s twin chromatic figurines Chii-Chan & Chin (2004) suggest lightness or sweetness, Wang sets the work against Xiao Lu’s two telephone kiosks, Dialogue (1989), a work that became highly charged when the artist shot at it in an impromptu action that caused the immediate temporary closure of the “China Avant-garde Exhibition” in Beijing. The damage from the bullets completes the work.

Wang suggests that the artists are “gathered together not only by their gender, but also by the true creativity”. This agenda softens other juxtapositions and their rationale is not always easy to follow. Sometimes the exhibition can seem like a succession of discontinuous materials and subjects, such as the hanging of Yin Xiuzhen’s livid cerise Pink Rainbow (2009), a hexagonal work stitched together from discarded clothing, opposite two figurative paintings, Xia Junna’s 1997 The Edge of the City and Duan Jianyu’s Sister No. 10 (2007) – the former set in a ripe wheat field overlooked by industry, the latter an episode with a bear in a snowy forest.

Xia Junna, 'The Edge of the City', 1997 (left) and Duan Jianyu, 'Sister No. 10', 2007 (right). Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Xia Junna, ‘The Edge of the City’, 1997 (left) and Duan Jianyu, ‘Sister No. 10’, 2007 (right). Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

These works are found at the point where the stairs to the lower gallery turn back on themselves leading to Tracy Emin’s neon inscription The Last Great Adventure is You (2014) and an extensive crimson rose coloured carpet Protruding Patterns (2014) by Lin Tianmiao. Both works evoke and redirect Betty Friedan’s edict in The Feminine Mystique,

The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own.

Tracy Emin, 'The Last Great Adventure is You', 2014 and Lin Tianmiao, 'Protruding Patterns', 2014 in the lower galleries of the exhibition at Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, 2016. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

Tracy Emin, ‘The Last Great Adventure is You’, 2014 and Lin Tianmiao, ‘Protruding Patterns’, 2014 in the lower galleries of the exhibition at Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, 2016. Image courtesy Andrew Stooke.

This exhibition as a whole succeeds by demonstrating how the view of creative work has been repositioned since 1963 when Friedman was writing. Now personal creative integrity is seen to be enacted in concord and on global, social and political platforms. Yoko Ono says:

We wanted to fly, and invented aeroplanes. We wanted to see the other side of the moon, and we have. This time, we want to heal our planet, and bring peace to this world. We will.

“SHE: International Women Artists Exhibition” is empowering. Without being explicitly feminist the show indicates what it means to act together, to act creatively, to be true to oneself.

Andrew Stooke

1309

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Asian art highlights from NordArt 2016, Germany

The annual art exhibition in Büdelsdorf, northern Germany, highlights Israel, Mongolia and China in its 2016 edition.

The 18th edition of NordArt once again brings a major exhibition of works by international artists from all over the world during the summer until 9 October 2016. This year’s iteration puts the spotlight on Israel, with a dedicated national pavilion, and offers an insightful exhibition of Mongolian artists as well as Chinese Liu Ruowang as the first Focus Artist of the event.

Michal Gabriel, Czech Republik, 'Player 1 - 13', 2011, bronze, height 171 - 191 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Michal Gabriel, Czech Republik, ‘Player 1 – 13’, 2011, bronze, height 171 – 191 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

NordArt is now in its 18th edition, and has since 1999 established itself as one of the largest international art exhibitions in Europe. Taking place during the summer every year, NordArt is located in the town of Büdelsdorf, in the middle of Schleswig Holstein in northern Germany, and uses the former 22,000-square-metre Carlshütte foundry (opened in 1827 and closed in 1997), the 400-square-metre ACO Wagenremise as well as the 80,000-square-metre historical park and public places of the town of Büdelsdorf.

NordArt is organised by Kunstwerk Carlshütte, the non-profit cultural initiative of the internationally active ACO Group and the towns of Büdelsdorf and Rendsburg. The Chief Curator of the exhibition is Wolfgang Gramm.

Viktor Freso, Slovakia, 'Birth of the Niemand', 2014, epox, height 95 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Viktor Freso, Slovakia, ‘Birth of the Niemand’, 2014, epox, height 95 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Talking about the reach of NordArt, with its 250 participating artists from 50 countries, Gramm says, as quoted in the press release (PDF download):

The NordArt is alive. It sees itself as a refuge and source of inspiration for artists from all over the world – this holds true for internationally renowned artists as well as for newcomers. The NordArt has dedicated itself to the task of enhancing mutual understanding through the language of art. Every year, the audience marvels at foreign narrative traditions, but is also amazed by how many common experiences people share, even though they live thousands of kilometres apart.
Paintings from Stav Yosha, Israel, 2015, oil on canvas, in the Israeli Pavilion at NordArt 2016. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Paintings from Stav Yosha, Israel, 2015, oil on canvas, in the Israeli Pavilion at NordArt 2016. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

NordArt 2016 Focus Country: Israel

Since a few years back, NordArt has been focusing on one particular country for each edition, with a national pavilion. After China (2012), Russia (2013), the Baltic States (2014) and Mongolia (2015), the 2016 pavilion is dedicated to Israel, with the title “The Circle of Life”.

It is about the role of the artist in society, multiculturalism, private versus collective identity, history and future, anxieties and hopes, beauty, ugliness and death, and the exalted aspiration to create. They are 28 different presences that add up to a paradoxical, contradictory, rich and complex whole. The contrasts are a statement, a cultural and political stance that allows the artists to hold the story that carries private and national memories, and create the secret that makes up the work of art.

Among the highlights of the pavilion is Tel Aviv-based Stav Yosha (b. 1985), whose work engages with the cycle of life of symbols – the mechanism by which symbols become allegorical implements, die and are reborn with new meanings and different forms. Yosha’s paintings imagine how our history can be understood by future people and how we would look at history in the future.

Objects from Avinoam Sternheim and paintings from Ruthi Helbitz Cohen in the Israeli Pavilion at NordArt 2016. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Objects from Avinoam Sternheim and paintings from Ruthi Helbitz Cohen in the Israeli Pavilion at NordArt 2016. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Avinoam Sternheim (b. 1983) is a Tel Aviv artist and musician, who works with industrial leftovers and other discarded objects to which he attaches new form and meaning. His sculptural work addresses the notion of how fantasy creates reality and viceversa, while the use of real, found objects serves as an “anchor” to root the work in everyday life.

Ruthi Helbitz Cohen (b. 1969) has held solo museum and gallery exhibitions around the world, and works with Umtrieb Gallery, Kiel, Germany; Gordon Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel; Helga Hofman Gallery, The Netherlands. Recurrent themes in her work are horror, suffering and shame, and women are the focus of her figurative oeuvre. She portrays her figures as hairless, with dark faces and generalised features, often with undefined clothing, making them appear as Jungian archetypes, such as the great mother or goddess, the trickster, or animus, the male in the woman.

 Liu Ruowang, 'Wolves Coming', 2008-2010, steel casting, 110 parts. Liu Ruowang, 'Original Sin', 2011 - 2013, 36 parts, copper, height 350 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Liu Ruowang, ‘Wolves Coming’, 2008-2010, steel casting, 110 parts. Liu Ruowang, ‘Original Sin’, 2011 – 2013, 36 parts, copper, height 350 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

NordArt 2016 Focus Artist: Liu Ruowang

For the first time in its history, NordArt presents a Focus Artist. Liu Ruowang (b. 1977, Sichuan, China) graduated from China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in 2005, and his work has been on show at the National Museum of China, China National Art Museum and other museums throughout China, as well as in international institutions and collections around the world.

His works, which include sculptures and paintings, are deeply rooted in Chinese cultural and historical context. One of his sculptural installations, Wolves Coming, was located at Beijing’s 798 Art District, and was regarded as the landmark of the art district until, acquired as part of Sir Michael Hill’s private collection, the installation was moved in 2012 to Queenstown, New Zealand, where the movie The Lord of the Rings was filmed.

Liu Ruowang, 'Original Sin', 2011 - 2013, 36 parts, copper, height 350 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Liu Ruowang, ‘Original Sin’, 2011 – 2013, 36 parts, copper, height 350 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Original Sin (2011-2013) is a group of sculptures of apes standing on two legs and looking up at the sky. Liu says about the work, as quoted in his NordArt profile (PDF download):

Ape-man looking up into the sky symbolizes the springing up of ancient civilization; today, high civilization brings advanced material culture, yet the nature we live in is being damaged unceasingly. The perplexed eyesight and innocent face of ape-man reveal the desire to correct all of this and to step towards a bright future. The title of Original Sin originated from my sense of social reality. I express my upset towards the deviated part in the ocean of civilization we are living in with this series of works, and appeal for more attention to beautiful things.
"Tradition and Modernity", installation view of the Mongolian artists exhibition at NordArt 2016. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

“Tradition and Modern Age”, installation view of the Mongolian artists exhibition at NordArt 2016. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Mongolia’s Art

Following the success of the 2015 national pavilion dedicated to Mongolia, NordArt has brought another exhibition of Mongolian art to its 2016 edition. With the title “Tradition and Modern Age”, the show is curated by Berlin/Ulaanbaatar-based Oyuntuya Oyunjargal and includes 17 artists working in painting, sculpture and photography, with evident influences from animistic rock art, Buddhist iconography and traditional Mongolian painting, socialist realism and western abstraction.

In her curatorial statement (PDF download), Ounjargal writes:

Tradition, turmoil, return – all this is reflected in the Mongolian art. The checkered and eventful history and the cultural tradition of closeness to nature and the preserved nomadic culture of the Mongolians, who were united by Chinggis Khaan in the 13th century and put their religious roots in Shamanism and Buddhism, are reflected in the works of the Mongolian artists.

Jang Yongsun, 'Dark Matter', 2014, scorched stainless steel. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Jang Yongsun, ‘Dark Matter’, 2014, scorched stainless steel. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

NordArt Prize

The NordArt Prize is sponsored since 2010 by husband and wife entrepreneurs Hans-Julius and Johanna Ahlmann and awards a prize of EUR10,000 to the winner. In addition to the top awardee, there are three further Public Choice Awards of EUR1,000, and all awardees are invited to participate in the following year’s NordArt exhibition.

In 2016, NordArt is showcasing new works by 2015 winner Liu Yonggang from China and 2014 winners, Russian art group AES+F. Additionally, the 2015 Public Choice Award winners – Jang Yongsun (South Korea), Lv Shun (China) and Ochirbold Ayurzana (Mongolia) – also present new works.

Liu Yonggang, 'Standing Characters - Embrace of Love series', 2011-2016, painted steel, height 380 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Liu Yonggang, ‘Standing Characters – Embrace of Love series’, 2011-2016, painted steel, height 380 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

Liu Yonggang (b. 1964, Genhe, Inner Mongolia, China) was trained in China and Germany. His works display the interrelation between Chinese humanistic tradition, classical art and contemporary practices. Liu created alternative characters that merge Chinese and Mongolian scripts to represent the multiculturalism of his country. His work Standing Charcters at NordArt is a sculptural work that displays a painterly, calligraphic character that infuses the written language with new power and meaning. He says, as quoted in his NordArt profile (PDF download):

A ‘line’, representing the spirit of the Chinese nation, has run through time from
ancient times to the present without ever breaking. And now, with the country’s
continuous prosperity and national power, this ‘line’ extends and connects to a
‘blood line’, showing the nation’s tenaciousness and its pride. So, I tried to change
the line into a three-dimensional line so that it can have a new phenomenon in
the three-dimensional space, such as in The Standing Character – Embrace of
Love.

AES+F, 'First Rider', 2009, fibreglass, steel, polymer, paint, height 650 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

AES+F, ‘First Rider’, 2009, fibreglass, steel, polymer, paint, height 650 cm. Image courtesy NordArt | www.nordart.de

AES+F was formed in 1987 by conceptual architects Tatiana Arzamasova and Lev Evzovich and multi-disciplinary designer Evgeny Svyatsky, and expanded with photographer Vladimir Fridkes in 1995. Their work positions itself at the intersection of photography, video and digital technologies, nurtured by interest in more traditional media, especially sculpture, but also painting, drawing and architecture. Their narratives explore the values, vices and conflicts of contemporary culture in the global sphere.

At NordArt 2016, alongside their acclaimed video work Inverso Mundus (2015), the collective presents First Rider (2009), a fibreglass sculpture that reinterprets the image of the Virgin on the Beast from the Apocalypse. The woman, or girl, astride a tyrannosaurus rex reflects the blurring of differences between angels and demons – or sacred and profane, good and bad. The apocalyptic parade which this figure is part of doesn’t usher in the end of the old world, but rather the beginning of a new one.

C. A. Xuân Mai Ardia

1317

Related Topics: Israeli artists, Chinese artists, Mongolian artists, Russian artists, sculpture, installation, painting, festivals, events in Germany

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Ateneo Art Awards 2016 announce winners

Out of a shortlist of 12, the Ateneo Art Awards identify leading young artists from the Philippines.

The winners of the Ateneo Art Awards 2016 draw on ethnographic approaches in order to explore social and environmental issues.

Martha Atienza, 'Study in Reality No. 3' (installation), 2015. Image courtesy Silverlens and the artist.

Martha Atienza, ‘Study in Reality No. 3’ (installation), 2015. Image courtesy Silverlens and the artist.

The Ateneo Art Awards have been identifying up and coming Filipino visual artists since 2004. Awarded to artists under the age of 36, the prize recognises outstanding work presented in an exhibition held between 2 May of the previous year to 1 May of the current year.

The works of the shortlisted artists and the winners were on show at the Grand Atrium of Shangri-La Mall until 19 September 2016, and will be exhibited at the Ateneo Art Gallery from 10 October to 3 December.

There are two categories to the award, the Fernando Zóbel Prizes for Visual Art and the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prize for Art Criticism. The visual art award was named after Fernando Zóbel de Ayala (1924 – 1984), a great supporter of emerging Filipino visual artists and also an important figure in developing art history in the country.

The award for art criticism was established by the Ateneo de Manila University, in partnership with the Kalaw-Ledesma Foundation and The Philippine Star and joined by recent partner ArtAsiaPacific, who offers winners the opportunity to be contributors to the magazine for one year. It honours Purita Kalaw Ledesma, art patron and Founder of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP), who fostered Philippine art of the post war period.

Nathalie Dagmang, “Dito sa may Ilog ng Tumana: A Sensory Investigation on the Contradictory Relationship of Barangay Tumana with the Marikina River” (installation), 2015. Image courtesy the artist.

Nathalie Dagmang, “Dito sa may Ilog ng Tumana: A Sensory Investigation on the Contradictory Relationship of Barangay Tumana with the Marikina River” (installation), 2015. Image courtesy the artist.

Last year’s winners of the visual art award were Pio Abad, Frank Callaghan and Ryan Villamael. Throughout the history of the award the selected works are varied, ranging from paintings and photos to installation and video.

Announced on 15 September, the three 2016 visual art winners, selected out of a competitive shortlist of 12 artists, are Martha Atienza, Rocky Cajigan and Nathalie Dagmang. The winners of the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prize for Art Criticism, selected from a shortlist of six, were writers Pristine de Leon and Dominic Zinampan. de Leon won The Philippine Star award with her piece “Owning the Image: Exploring Lopez Museum’s political cartoons and the pleasures of resistance”, and is given a regular column to be published twice a month, or 24 articles a year, in the Arts and Culture section of the newspaper. Zinampan won the ArtAsiaPacific prize for his entry “Chambers of Reflection: A Critique of Mark Giustiniani’s ‘Reverb'”, and will be contributing a total of six articles to the magazine for one year.

Martha Atienza, 'Study in Reality No. 3' (detail), 2015. Image courtesy Silverlens and the artist.

Martha Atienza, ‘Study in Reality No. 3’ (detail), 2015. Image courtesy Silverlens and the artist.

The Ateneo Art Award 2016 Visual Art Winners

Martha Atienza

Atienza (who also won the award in 2012) was recognised for her installation “Study in Reality No. 3” at Silverlens Galleries (7 May to 6 June 2015). In 2016, Atienza also wins the La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre residency grant. Atienza is an experimental video artist who explores her Dutch-Filipino cultural background as well as themes of environmental sustainability. She often works with communities, such as fishing communities in the Philippines where she worked on bio-intensive farming and marine preservation. This social engagement feeds into her creative work.

Martha Atienza, 'Study in Reality No. 3' (detail), 2015. Image courtesy Silverlens and the artist.

Martha Atienza, ‘Study in Reality No. 3’ (detail), 2015. Image courtesy Silverlens and the artist.

Study in Reality No. 3 draws from Atienza’s filmed experience of the 2014 Typhoon Hagupit, transposed into seven-foot-long of stainless steel slices. In addition there are three motorised trees that move with a soundtrack of the storm.

In an interview with Artsy, Atienza explains the motivation behind her artwork:

I wanted to have some control over how things really are and how we try to manipulate them […] that is what I have been doing with my ongoing projects on the island. I have a vision of how we are going to do things, but in the Philippines things just work out differently. Real life situations are part of it. This is a study of dealing with the reality.

Rocky Cajigan, 'Museumified' (installation), 2015. Image courtesy Blanc Gallery.

Rocky Cajigan, “Museumified” (installation), 2015. Image courtesy Blanc Gallery.

Rocky Cajigan

Cajigan’s winning exhibition “Museumified”, shown at Blanc Gallery from 10 to 31 October 2015, consisted of 22 found objects and sculptures that critique ideas of individual and collective life. The shadow boxes contain artefacts such as reptile skin, white baby dolls, monkey skulls, heirloom beads and Christian icons that refer to Philippine cultural memory.

Rocky Cajigan, 'Educated' in "Museumified", 2015. Image courtesy Blanc Gallery.

Rocky Cajigan, ‘Educated’ in “Museumified”, 2015. Image courtesy Blanc Gallery.

Cajigan looks into themes of decolonialisation, paying particular attention to multicultural identities and experiences. In a statement in the Philippine Star, Cajigan explained the influences behind his work:

Growing up in Central Bontoc, Mountain Province, in an ethnolinguistic community along the Chico River is the aesthetic and theoretical backbone on my work.

His leaving to study at university prompted him to question concepts of home and what it means to be Filipino. Cajigan draws on ethnographic practices to interrogate these themes in his creative practice.

Rocky Cajigan, 'American Goathanger' in "Museumified", 2015. Image courtesy Blanc Gallery.

Rocky Cajigan, ‘American Goathanger’ in “Museumified”, 2015. Image courtesy Blanc Gallery.

Nathalie Dagmang, “Dito sa may Ilog ng Tumana: A Sensory Investigation on the Contradictory Relationship of Barangay Tumana with the Marikina River” (installation), 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

Nathalie Dagmang, “Dito sa may Ilog ng Tumana: A Sensory Investigation on the Contradictory Relationship of Barangay Tumana with the Marikina River” (installation), 2015. Image courtesy the artist.

Nathalie Dagmang

The final winning exhibition is Nathalie Dagmang’s “Dito sa may Ilog ng Tumana: A Sensory Investigation on the Contradictory Relationship of Barangay Tumana with the Marikina River”, the artist’s thesis show at the College of Fine Arts in UP Diliman. Dagmang also wins both the Liverpool Hope University – Creative Campus and the Artesan Gallery + Studio residency grants.

Nathalie Dagmang, ‘Things Washed Away (After the floods of Typhoon Mario)’ in “Dito sa may Ilog ng Tumana: A Sensory Investigation on the Contradictory Relationship of Barangay Tumana with the Marikina River” (installation), 2015. Image courtesy the artist.

Nathalie Dagmang, ‘Things Washed Away (After the floods of Typhoon Mario)’ in “Dito sa may Ilog ng Tumana: A Sensory Investigation on the Contradictory Relationship of Barangay Tumana with the Marikina River” (installation), 2015. Image courtesy the artist.

The work looks into the recurring flooding of the Marikina River and how the residents of the surrounding communities interact and react to the environmental changes. The resulting installation includes videos and found objects. It conveys the impact of the floodwaters through the detritus of things left behind, which are covered in silt.

Dagmang also incorporated ethnographic methods into her art-making process in order to better understand the community as she states that

the field of ethnography can provide the visual arts alternative routes in examining and portraying landscapes and communities.

Claire Wilson

1305

Related topics: Emerging artists, Filipino artists, awards, news, new media, installation

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“The Colony”: Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Lê at Artangel, London

Din Q. Lê explores colonial exploitation of resources in 19th century Pacific.

Dinh Q. Lê is known for his subtle and poetic revisions of colonial history, linked to his birth country, Vietnam. In his latest video installation, he explores the exploitation of resources off the coast of Peru, which in the 19th century provoked conflictual relationships between various countries and caused a great deal of human suffering, much in a similar guise as what is happening today closer to the artist’s home, in the South China Sea.

Infirmary on Chincha Norte Island. Production shot of "The Colony", Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

Infirmary on Chincha Norte Island. Production shot of “The Colony”, Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

Mountains of guano cover a group of uninhabited islands off the coast of Peru in the Pacific Ocean, deposited there by sea birds such as the Peruvian pelican, booby and Guanay cormorant that feed on the plentiful, richly nutritious fish of the area. The Chincha Islands were once, in the 19th century, a strong point of contention between countries that already had a presence in the region – nearby Peru and Chile, Spain and the United States. Meanwhile, British merchants and middlemen sent large contingents of bonded Chinese labourers to harvest the manure to take back to Britain and trade.

The United States responded to disputes by passing the Guano Act in 1856, which allowed the imperial power to seize uninhabited islands, reefs and atolls anywhere in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. As the history of imperialism unfolded, the Guano Wars of 1864-1866 broke out to gain control of the islands, home to a rich agricultural resource abundantly gifted by nature, during a period that is recorded in history as the Great Guano Rush.

Guanape Island. Production shot of "The Colony", Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

Guanape Island. Production shot of “The Colony”, Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

Reader in Environmental Humanities at the University of Birmingham, Frank Ueköttor gives a detailed account of that period of time and the history of Peruvian guano in his essay “War, Peace and Guano” published in Dinh Q. Lê’s “The Colony” exhibition catalogue. He writes that

The Chincha Islands were not destined to make world history. They were small, they did not have a permanent human presence, and they were at a distance from the main trade routes. They had no strategic value and little in the way of scenery. But commodities have an ability to catapult remote places onto the stage of global history. The story of eruvian guano echoes the stories of Saudi Arabian oil, Californian gold, or bananas from Central American republics. These commodities are more than just stuff from a place. They are the stuff that makes a place.

Pescadora Island. Production shot of "The Colony", Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

Pescadora Island. Production shot of “The Colony”, Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

Guano is essentially birds’ droppings and was extensively used as a precious and potent fertiliser, rich in nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, before chemical ones were invented and commercialised. A natural resource that caused such extensive territorial disputes in the Pacific Ocean, guano is the focus of Dinh Q. Lê’s lens in his new video installation “The Colony”, now on show at Artangel in London until 9 October 2016.

The videos feature newly shot film in the Chincha Islands as well as found footage from the Internet. Alongside the videos, the exhibition also features a number of 19th century maps and photographs of the Chincha Islands, taken in 1865 
by the renowned American Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner, and a selection of Illustrated London News bulletins on the islands and guano trade.

Dinh Q. Lê, "The Colony", 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

Dinh Q. Lê, “The Colony”, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

“The Colony” is part of The Artangel Collection, an initiative to bring outstanding film and video works to the United Kingdom, developed in partnership with Tate, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Foyle Foundation and using public funding from Arts Council England. “The Colony” was commissioned by Artangel, Ikon Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima, with support by Shoshana Wayne Gallery. The exhibition toured the UK, from Ikon in Birmingham in early 2016, to Derry Void in Northern Ireland until 2 July, and finally Artangel in London.

Click here to watch an excerpt from “The Colony” by Dinh Q. Lê on YouTube

“The Colony” makes a powerful connection between what happened off the coast of South America more than a hundred years ago and what has been the focus of contention in the South China Sea, where China lays claim to the majority of islands that apparently hide rich natural oil and gas resources, as well as the sea itself, with its abundant fish. Various countries in the region, including Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam are in continuous abrasion with the giant of the East. Dinh Q. Lê seems to suggest that, as the saying goes, History repeats itself.

As James Lingwood, Co-Director of Artangel, and Jonathan Watkins, Director of Ikon, write in the foreword to the exhibition catalogue,

The islands afford an extraordinary location for Lê’s new work, but they are not its only subject. The world’s powers continue to wrestle for control over actual and potential natural resrouces in the Middle East, the Arctic and the Antartic and, significantly for an artist now living back in Vietnam, in the South China Seas where competing claims over tiny islands mark a new period of colonial conflict.

Dinh Q. Lê, "The Colony", 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

Dinh Q. Lê, “The Colony”, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

When in the 20th century the harvesting of Guano abruptly stopped, birds reclaimed the islands, left again uninhabited, deserted. Today, even though on a much smaller scale, the harvesting of the natural fertiliser has resumed on occasion, and Lê landed on the islands to document their present state. Through different perspectives, the artist records the still gruelling manual labour of workers intent in collecting, transporting and loading bags full of guano onto boats, “echoing the burden of their predecessors”, as Artangel writes in the exhibition pamphlet.

Dinh Q. Lê, "The Colony", 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

Dinh Q. Lê, “The Colony”, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

Lê follows the conceptual ideas of his previous works to shed light on the plight of nameless individuals, ‘victims’ of imperialist thirsts for power and control and human desire, through an exploration of colonial history. Silhouettes of animated figures representing the 19th century Chinese workers appear on screen, while other scenes in the video show the interior of an abandoned building, once dormitories built for the guano workers in the 20th century. The spaces are dotted with pornographic photographs, left there by the workers, confined in solitude far away from home and from their wives and families.

Dinh Q. Lê, "The Colony", 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

Dinh Q. Lê, “The Colony”, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

Dormitory and worker kitchen on Chincha Norte Island. Production shot of "The Colony", Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

Dormitory and worker kitchen on Chincha Norte Island. Production shot of “The Colony”, Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

In a conversation with Zoe Butt, Executive Director and Curator of Ho Chi Minh City-based art space Sàn Art, published in the catalogue, Lê reveals that the installation’s title “The Colony” was inspired by Kafka’s In The Penal Colony, the stark landscapes of which were a constant reminder to Lê during filming. The confinement, the solitude and the suffering of forced labour are concepts that permeate these images of a run down, deserted building, as Lê says:

[…] it must have been much worse for the indentured Chinese servants in the 1850s enduring constant hard labour and physical abuse, confined to islands you cannot easily escape. It must have been a kind of prison, for they were essentially slaves to the British companies who brought them there to harvest guano. To me these dormitories are also a visual reminder of the human cost of desire.

Guanape Island. Production shot of "The Colony", Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

Guanape Island. Production shot of “The Colony”, Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

In a continuation of the traditional presence of helicopters in Lê’s work, a symbol of technological and military superiority, “The Colony” was partly shot using a drone, one of today’s deadliest war machines and espionage tools on the market. Talking with Butt about the role of the drone in the work, Lê reveals the flying machine as “an aggressor”,

a kind of alien of the future, but at the same time it is utterly a machine we live with today. It is as if the drone is saying “the future is here”. The drone to me has the visual power to suggest a form of knowledge that invades.

Dinh Q. Lê, "The Colony", 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

Dinh Q. Lê, “The Colony”, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

The five-screen video installation is accompanied by an apocalyptic soundtrack by Daniel Wohl, and includes footage shot on the Chincha Islands, as well as found footage taken from the Internet of what is taking place in the South China Sea. Apart from the music, the sounds of birds and the sea, of labourers and of radio exchanges in the air zones above the ocean in Asia can be heard in a cacophony that reminds of conflict and tension. In the conversation with Butt, Lê talks about the power of mediated imagery taken during surveillance operations, such as those included in his work, shot by the American military over the South China Sea:

Some of the footage I include documents the American military flying over the South China Sea. These are surveillance videos that I found online. They are extremely beautiful but when you hear the Chinese radio warning “You are violating our territory” and the American respond with “This is international waters,” the tension is palpable. The point of this American military surveillance over the South China Sea was to make clear that America does not recognise China’s claim of these unpopulated waters, so in a way my sending in the drone to these inaccessible, similarly unpopulated Guano Islands is also a kind of surveillance, of saying that this history, which is a way is being repeated, shall not remain hidden.

Dinh Q. Lê, "The Colony", 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

Dinh Q. Lê, “The Colony”, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Photo: Marcus J. Leith.

Chincha Norte Island. Production shot of "The Colony", Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

Chincha Norte Island. Production shot of “The Colony”, Dinh Q. Lê, 2016. Commissioned by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham, Han Nefkens H+F Collection and Proyecto Amil, Lima. Image courtesy Dinh Q. Lê.

The Chincha Islands video ends with an aerial shot of the film crew, in an unexpected move that gives “humanity back the control”, as Butt comments. The cameraman extends his arms to receive the drone descending from a day’s shoot, as if the author (the artist) wanted to recede, in order to challenge the pervasive view that ‘others’ are always responsible, while in fact the responsibility of catastrophe is often in the hands of the collective conscious, as he tells Butt:

[In revealing the existence and identity of the film crew] I’m saying that we, the viewer are in control, that you as viewers are also authors in a way. Today we are accustomed to justifying that someone else is directing the toll of human suffering, but in the end I’m saying it is our responsibility to remember it, to understand it and thus endure that our collective actions matter, our memory matters. When you realise you are looking directly at the cameraman who controls the drone you suddenly realise perhaps that you haven’t asked who is controlling the camera and why.

C. A. Xuân Mai Ardia

1306

Related Topics: Vietnamese artists, video, installation, archive, environment, trauma, political art, war, gallery shows, events in London

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‘barrangal dyara’: Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones revives forgotten history of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens

barrangal dyara is the most ambitious artwork presented by Kaldor Art Projects to date.

A major installation in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens by Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones revives its forgotten history. Presented by Kaldor Art Projects, the work will be on show until 3 October 2016.

Jonathan Jones, 'barrangal dyara', 2016, installation in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens. Image courtesy Peter Grieg.

Jonathan Jones, ‘barrangal dyara’, 2016, installation in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Image courtesy Peter Grieg.

For 48 years, since 1969, Kaldor Art Projects has had a significant influence on contemporary art in Australia, and has presented groundbreaking contemporary art to the country by influential international artists such as Gilbert and George, Charlotte Moorman and Nam June Paik, Tatzu Nishi and Sol LeWitt. Until now, the most ambitious of all was the inaugural project in 1969 when Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped Little Bay in Sydney’s southern suburbs. At the time, Christo assured Kaldor that “a project is successful when it’s larger than every[one] imagined.”

Christo, Little Bay. Image couresty Kaldor Public Art Projects.

Christo, Little Bay. Image couresty Kaldor Public Art Projects.

However, Kaldor Public Art Project 32, Jonathan Jones’ barrangal dyara (skin and bones) in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens from 17 September to 3 October 2016, has pushed the boundaries of this ambition beyond perceived limits. Taking two years to develop, the work is monumental in scale and scope.

Jonathan Jones is based in Sydney. He works across a range of media to create site-specific installations that use light, shadow and repetition to explore Aboriginal practices, relationships and ideas. He has worked on several major public commissions, including the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Sydney, and has exhibited nationally and internationally.

Jones is a member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south-east Australia. Twenty years ago, as an art student, he began to explore his cultural heritage through his art. Struck by the absence of historic Aboriginal cultural material in Sydney’s museums, he learnt that countless objects collected by the colonisers were destroyed. In the catalogue essay, curator Emma Pike quotes the artist as saying:

I first went looking for cultural material from where my family is from and found out that much of this material was lost in the Garden Palace fire. Ever since, I’ve been struck with the loss of our cultural material, what that loss means for our communities and how you can move forward as a culture when you can’t point to your cultural heritage.

Jonathan Jones, 'barrangal dyara', 2016, section view. Image courtesy Peter Grieg.

Jonathan Jones, ‘barrangal dyara’, 2016, section view. Image courtesy Peter Grieg.

The name barrangal dyara is taken from the local Sydney language, and translates as ‘skin’ and ‘bones’.  Jones envisions the project as peeling back the ‘skin’ of the site to reveal the ‘bones’ of the building:

barrangal dyara is a response to the immense loss felt throughout Australia due to the destruction of countless culturally significant Aboriginal objects … It represents an effort to commence a healing process and a celebration of the survival of the world’s oldest living culture despite this traumatic event.

The installation is made up of three formal components. 15,000 white shields made from gypsum outline the Garden Palace’s footprint. The shields traverse the city’s highest ridge and extend across to an island in a major expressway. Reminiscent of scattered bones in the landscape, or masses of rubble left by fire, the shields are based on four shapes that refer to the many Aboriginal nations of Australia’s South East. Unlike the originals, which would have carried markings that refer to connections with country and family, these shields are devoid of markings. Mens’ shields, used for both ceremony and war, were a popular souvenir of the colonisers. Captain Cook was notably the first to obtain one after firing gunshots at the local people upon first landing in Sydney’s Botany Bay.

Jonathon Jones in Kangaroo Grass Meadow. Image courtesy Belinda Piggott.

Jonathon Jones in Kangaroo Grass Meadow. Image courtesy Belinda Piggott.

In the heart of the installation, where the massive dome once stood, Jones planted a native kangaroo grass meadow. The wild planting disrupts the European style formality of the Royal Botanic Gardens, as well as the commonly held belief that, prior to colonisation, Aboriginal people did not practice agriculture. Across southeastern Australia, grasslands were widely cultivated and harvested.

To manage food supply in the vast landscape, fire was used to clear the land and promote growth of preferred plant species, some of which actually require fire to regenerate or release seeds. Extensive grasslands were a food source in themselves, seeds of grasses such as kangaroo grass were ground to make the flour. The recent discovery of a 30,000 year old grinding stone is evidence Aboriginal Australians were in fact the world’s first bread-makers. These cultivated grasslands also attracted wildlife such as kangaroos, simplifying the hunting process.

The final component of barrangal dyara is composed by the soundscapes that infuse the space once occupied by the Garden Palace. Voices speaking and singing in eight Aboriginal languages recall not only the objects lost in the Garden Palace fire, but the material excluded from the colonial collections – those used in agriculture and by women and children.

At one time there were 250 language groups across the country. Today, as a result of the punishments metred out to Aboriginal people for speaking languages other than English, it is rare to hear any words uttered. As a result, many languages have almost disappeared. In the last few years, however, there has been a passionate revival of language across the country, offering communities a precious connection with their culture in the absence of historic objects. To make the eight soundscapes, Jones travelled throughout the country and collaborated with people from the various language groups – the Sydney Language, Gamilaraay, Gumbaynggirr, Gunditjmara, Ngarrindjeri, Paakantji, Wiradjuri and Woiwurrung.

Exterior, the Garden Palace, Sydney, c. 1879. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney.

Exterior, the Garden Palace, Sydney, c. 1879. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney.

Themes of loss and memory are not only relevant to Aboriginal people. Prior to Kaldor Art Projects 32, the Garden Palace itself had been forgotten by all but a handful of people. In his presentation during a symposium leading up to the opening of barrangal dyara Jones said:

How surprising it is that a building measuring 250m long and 150m wide, so almost two football fields in size, an enormous building, a huge undertaking of the colony, and a building that really stands for a way of understanding Australia’s coming of age story … How is it possible that we can miss that building? … If we imagine that we have the ability to blindside this enormous building, this enormous moment of our history, what else have we forgotten?

The Garden Palace was purpose built in 1879 to host the International Exhibition, Sydney’s response to London’s Crystal Palace and the Palais du Trocadero in Paris. At the time the colony was optimistic and energetic – the population had tripled in the 20 years since the Gold Rush in the early 1850s. A sense of independence and national identity was developing. The Exhibition was the opportunity for the convict colony to present itself to the world showcasing wealth and success with exhibits of wool, wheat and gold. Not surprisingly, the national identity excluded Australia’s original inhabitants, their representation was limited to the dedicated Ethnological Court. Cultural objects and ancestral remains were presented in a way that supported discourse at the time – the mission to “civilise” the natives, and popular theories such as Social Darwinism.

Lithograph, Burning of the Garden Palace, Sydney, Gibbs Shallard and Company, Sydney, 1882. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney.

Lithograph, ‘Burning of the Garden Palace’, Sydney, Gibbs Shallard and Company, Sydney, 1882. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney.

The subsequent fire that destroyed the Garden Palace just three years after it was built, along with the vast collection of Aboriginal cultural objects, could be considered a disaster. However, Oliver Costello, a Bundjulung man and Co-founder of Firesticks, offers an alternative perspective:

Fire creates change. The Garden Palace fire cleansed the site and created meaning. All those artefacts, taken out of country, were used to misrepresent our identity … The Garden Palace symbolised the colonisation of Australia and attempted to say our culture was over. The fire provided the opportunity to cleanse that negative energy and t step back from the colonial framework and ask ‘where are we?’ … The artefacts were already lost and the fire has given us a chance to find them.

Bangarra Dance Company and Jonathan Jones. Image courtesy Kaldor Art Projects.

Bangarra Dance Company and Jonathan Jones. Image courtesy Kaldor Art Projects.

There are a variety of ways to interact with barrangal dyara. Each day of the exhibition there is a talk by Jonathan Jones on site. Aboriginal elders, curators, artists and theorists are also involved in daily talks; on the anniversary of when the Garden Palace burnt down, 22 September, Bangarra Dance Company presented an on-site performance. To guide viewers around the installation, onsite invigilators will share stories about the work, reminiscent of the way oral history has transferred Aboriginal culture across the millennia. The Project 32 App activates on site to stream insights and conversations. Podcasts of the three Spitfire symposia held in the lead up to the opening are available online.

Belinda Piggott

1307

Related Topics: Australian artists, public art, historical art, identity art, performance, events in Sydney

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Israeli artist Yael Bartana’s ‘Inferno’ at Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Norway

Israeli Yael Bartana creates a hellish drama out of religious devotion through “historical pre-enactment”.

On view at Norway’s Trondheim Kunstmuseum until 16 October 2016, Inferno explores the depth of religious devotion and its ensuing spectacle merging past and present histories, through a dystopic view of São Paulo’s Jewish community and its multicultural complexity.

Yael Bartana, 'Inferno', 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Yael Bartana, ‘Inferno’, 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Courting controversy while embracing the historical past has been a recurring act in Yael Bartana’s artistic career. The Israeli-born artist’s works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, as well as at the São Paulo Biennal, and most recently in the fall of 2016, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Bartana has made a name for herself producing video and photo installations that centre on the nationalist underpinnings of her native Israel while interrogating the conceptual boundaries of belonging. Ultimately, her work considers the nuances of collective identity in the face of violence and adversity.

Yael Bartana, 'Inferno', 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Yael Bartana, ‘Inferno’, 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Bartana’s 22-minutes-long, 2013 film Inferno is the latest iteration of film and video art to be presented at Norway’s Trondheim Kunstmuseum in collaboration with About Art – a year-long project running until 14 January 2017 that also includes works by Vito Acconci, Lynda Benglis and others. Inferno, on show at the museum until 16 October 2016, was produced in collaboration with New York’s Petzel Gallery and commissioned by the Perez Art Museum Miami for the 19th edition of the Biennale of Sydney. Directed by Bartana and produced by Naama Pyritz, the film escorts the viewer to a São Paulo that is not quite in our present and nods to the distant past – a practice that Bartana calls “historical pre-enactment”.

Click here to watch Part 1 of Yael Bartana’s ‘Inferno’ (2013) on YouTube

The film opens with dizzying shots of the megalopolis’s numerous skyscrapers and brings us down to the frenetic activity of its inhabitants. Dressed in white linen that recalls Brazil’s folkloric tradition, the men, women and children, accompanied by various livestock, traverse the urban landscape to head to a massive temple. They are in celebration: they lock hands and dance in a circle, and point excitedly at two massive helicopters bearing large golden ornaments – among them, notably, a menorah. The crowd eventually files into a massive temple. At the front of the altar, a black priest leads a ceremony fuelled by flames licking at the golden ornaments behind him.

Yael Bartana, 'Inferno', 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Yael Bartana, ‘Inferno’, 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Yael Bartana, 'Inferno', 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Yael Bartana, ‘Inferno’, 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Eventually, these flames begin to engulf the temple and chaos ensues as a stampede of screaming devotees flee the now crumbling structure. Limbs and slack bodies litter the ground as the worshippers carry out the large menorah and golden palanquin. The priest remains unscathed and an image of his face is followed by a brief blackout. The next scene shows the remnants of the temple – a large wall recalling the Western wall. On one side, worshippers dressed in white cloaks pray in unison toward the wall, the crevices of which are filled with folded notes. On the other, the scene is quite different: a bare-chested man with wings tattooed onto his back makes a gesture of devotion. Tourists with Nikon cameras, merchants selling menorah souvenirs and embossed green coconuts all take up the space. We are left with this final scene of modern, globalised tourism.

Click here to watch Part 2 of Yael Bartana’s ‘Inferno’ (2013) on YouTube

Inferno’s final message hints at the dichotomy between the piety of a distant past and a heavily gestured loss of such history in the present, but the specific images are rooted in the context of Judaism in contemporary São Paulo. The massive temple structure in the film is based on the USD300-million-dollar edifice constructed by the neo-Pentecostal Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in 2014, which in turn is a replica of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. At the time of filming, the temple was not yet complete, prompting Bartana to film the interior temple scenes in a cavernous hangar and use CGI to fill in the necessary gaps in the exterior structure and the massive ornaments carried by the helicopters.

Yael Bartana, 'Inferno', 2016, screening at the 31st São Paulo Biennale, 1 October 2014. © Pedro Ivo Trasferetti / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo.

Yael Bartana, ‘Inferno’, 2016, screening at the 31st São Paulo Biennale, 1 October 2014. © Pedro Ivo Trasferetti / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo.

In combining CGI with shots of contemporary São Paulo, home to Brazil’s largest Jewish community, Bartana evokes the “historical pre-enactment” of her practice most effectively through the evocation of apocalypse. The heightened tension evoked by the frenzy of the temple’s ritual led by the priest, and the ensuing destruction of the temple, with its flying rubble and flailing limbs, instills a sense of fatalism that is heightened further by the implied dystopia presented by the commercialisation of faith in the film’s final elements.

It is worth noting that the São Paulo Temple of Solomon was funded by the billionaire Edir Macedo, a Catholic convert to Judaism who currently serves as the bishop of the Temple of Solomon and is the owner of several Evangelical media entities. Bartana’s distinct visions of a historical past and her interpretation of our capitalist present subtly nod at the Church’s extravagance and profligate operations.

Yael Bartana, 'Inferno', 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Yael Bartana, ‘Inferno’, 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Yael Bartana, 'Inferno', 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Yael Bartana, ‘Inferno’, 2013, film still. Image courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.

Yet, the most captivating element of Bartana’s endeavour is its multiculturalism. Bartana has expressed an interest in the expression of Judaism outside of Israel, and her decision to focus on São Paulo offers a unique perspective on the fluid tension between culture and faith, historical tradition and contemporary interpretations of the past. The range of actors in the film nod to Brazil’s racial and ethnic diversity, and as Bartana relates, some are actually of Jewish faith. The lead priest in the film is played by Carlos Marcio José da Silva, more widely known as Marcia Pantera, a well-regarded drag performer. It is this particular dedication to portraying complexity, rather than merely juxtaposing the past and present, that makes Bartana’s work worth watching.

Tausif Noor

1302

Related Topics: Israeli artists, film, video, new media, historical art, museum shows

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Hong Kong South Island Art Day 2016: 5 must see exhibitions and events

Art radar highlights 5 events at Hong Kong’s new destination for contemporary art.

Hong Kong South Island Art Day takes place on 24 September 2016 in the South Island Cultural District with a packed programme of exhibitions, tours and performances. Art Radar highlights five major events taking place from 12pm to 8pm.

South Island Art Day 2015. Gallery Installation. Image courtesy South Island Art Day.

South Island Art Day 2015. Gallery Installation. Image courtesy South Island Art Day.

The past success of South Island Cultural District

Following the success of the Art Nights and the Art Days over the last two years, 2016 marks the third time that the galleries and artist studios currently based in Hong Kong’s South Island Cultural District (SICD) will gather in a coordinated programme of guided tours, show openings and performances. The Art Night and Art Days concept was first conceived in 2013 when many galleries and artists first uprooted and moved to the SICD. While promoted as “Hong Kong’s new destination for contemporary art”, many gallerists and artists initially found the industrial zones of Wong Chuk Hang and Tin Wan that make up the district to be challenging in terms of getting the same traffic of visitors and art audiences that other zones of Hong Kong (such as Central) have been experiencing for years.

It seems that persuading viewers to make the 15 minute trip from Central to Hong Kong’s south side has been a gradual process. The risk of investing in the area (with its lower rent rates for more space) is beginning to pay off. This year, according to the press release, the SICD is expecting over 2000 local and international visitors to attend the South Island Art Day, which will run on 24 September 2016 from 12 to 8 pm and will involve 24 art spaces offering a programme of exhibitions, interaction with local and international artists, dance, music and art performances, as well as food and drink from south side partners to the event.

Art Radar picks five highlights from among the rich offerings at SICD.

Translatio exhibition affiche. Image courtesy Charbon Art Space.

“translatio” exhibition affiche. Image courtesy Charbon Art Space.

1. “translatio” — Charbon art space

The young Charbon exhibition space will be celebrating its first anniversary at South Island Art Day with the opening of their multimedia exhibition “translatio”. In an exhibition of performances, photography, installations, drawings and stage plays, “translatio” will explore the transmission, translation and impact of the artistic projects and games of the late French artist Edouard Levé. The exhibition features French and Hong Kong artists. There will be a talk by the exhibition’s curator Lalie Choffel at 12.30pm.

"Inhere" exhibition and film installation preparation by artist Enoch Cheng. Image courtesy Grosvenor Gallery.

“Inhere” exhibition and film installation preparation by artist Enoch Cheng. Image courtesy Grosvenor Gallery.

2. Enoch Cheng, performance — Charbon art space

Writer, self-taught film director and performer Enoch Cheng (b. 1983, Hong Kong) will be performing a piece of work developed in dialogue with the legacy of French artist Edouard Levé. Cheng’s practice involves moving image, installation, theatre and performance and is concerned with exploring themes of travel, fiction, migration and destination. He received his MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, London and BA in English Literature and Art History at the University of Hong Kong. In 2015 Cheng had his Hong Kong screening debut with Operation Pina4, commissioned by the Fresh Wave programme funded by Hong Kong Arts Development Council.

For a recent solo exhibition at Grosvenor Gallery in Manchester entitled “InHere”, Cheng invited actors to read a script constructed from official government announcements broadcasted in Vietnamese in Hong Kong during the 1980s and 1990s. The project explored the notion of border crossing: from role playing and acting to migration and struggles for citizenship. The performance will take place at 6.30pm at Charbon art space.

Installation shot of exhibition "Without Tyring" by Doris Wong at Spring Workshop. Image courtesy Spring Workshop.

Installation shot of exhibition “Without Tyring” by Doris Wong at Spring Workshop. Image courtesy Spring Workshop.

3. Doris Wai-yin Wong, “Without Trying” —  Spring Workshop

Non-profit arts space Spring Workshop opened its current Wong Chuk Hang location in 2012, aiming to bridge and encourage international, multidisciplinary artist dialogues through holding regular artist and curatorial residencies. During South Island Art Day they will be holding an exhibition of the work of Hong Kong artist Doris Wai-yin Wong, which opened on 20 August 2016.

“Without Trying” is an exploration of the anxieties and fears involved in the process of art making and parenting respectively. Through a series of videos and installations Wong explores with uplifting humour the choices one must make between the secular and spiritual worlds, parenting as a kind of teaching practice and how pedagogy permeates every aspect of life.

Tsherin Sherpa "All Things Considered", 2015 Digital giclée print with gold leaf on Somerset paper 2 panels, (51.3 x 81.7 cm). Image courtesy Rossi & Rossi.

Tsherin Sherpa “All Things Considered”, 2015, digital giclée print with gold leaf on Somerset paper 2 panels, 51.3 x 81.7 cm. Image courtesy Rossi & Rossi.

4. Tsherin Sherpa, “Beautiful Decay” — Rossi & Rossi

Rossi & Rossi (established in 1985) have been successfully representing contemporary Asian artists with a focus on contemporary Tibetan art since the early 2000s, from their base in Mayfair London and more recently from their new South Island location. During Art Day, they will be open with a solo exhibition of the work of Tibetan artist Tsherin Sherpa (b. 1968, Kathmandu) entitled “Beautiful Decay”.

Sherpa has trained in Buddhist Philosophy under the tutelage of various Buddhist Masters in Nepal and has a degree in Computer Science. His work is a curious product of his formal studies and a childhood spent studying traditional Tibetan thangka painting with his father Master Urgen Dorje, a renowned thangka artist from Ngyalam, Tibet. Tsherin Sherpa will be giving an artist talk at 2pm.

Trevor Yeung, "The Artichoke Eater (old crush)" (2016), Video, archival inkjet print 22 min 55 sec 33.4 x 55.6 cm (Monitor). Image courtesy Blindspot Gallery.

Trevor Yeung, ‘The Artichoke Eater (old crush)’, 2016, video, archival inkjet print, 22 min 55 sec, 33.4 x 55.6 cm (Monitor). Image courtesy Blindspot Gallery.

5. Trevor Yeung, “The Sunset of Last Summer” — Blindspot gallery

Set up in 2010, Blindspot Gallery has a primary focus on contemporary photography and image-based works amongst other media in contemporary art. For Art Day they will be inaugurating a solo exhibition of the work of artists Trevor Yeung (b. 1988, Guangdong). “The Sunset of Last Summer” explores the nostalgia and memory of a past love affair through video, film installation, sculpture and a continued focus on what has been central to his artistic practice for a decade: his use of plants and horticulture.

Rebecca Close

1301

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Quirky and ingenious: Hong Kong artist Samson Young at Experimenter Gallery, Kolkata

Samson Young takes sound art to the next level with his debut solo show in India.

Sonic artist Samson Young’s first solo exhibition in India at Experimenter, Kolkata is a collection of works based on his distinctive practice, which explores cultural politics and communal structures rooted in Western Classical music through his experiments with sound.

Artist Samson Young. Image courtesy thenewswheel.com.

Artist Samson Young. Image courtesy thenewswheel.com.

A trained composer turned sound and performance artist based in Hong Kong, Samson Young debuts in India with an exhibition at Experimenter Gallery in Kolkata, running until 29 October 2016, titled “Mastery of Language Affords Remarkable Power”. The show is a radical attempt at contextualising the political and social conflicts inherent in reproducing institutions of classical music outside of the West.

In light of a globalised world and widespread transnationalism, Western classical music still remains rigid in its structure leaving much less breathing room for experimentation. When asked, Young confidently states: “I am very much against the idea of romanticising music and sound.” Rather, the artist found that the field of art allows him to explore music and sound with much greater freedom. On choosing to walk down this path of exploring political and communal structures, Young tells Art Radar:

Self-awareness is an accumulative process and in this case it has to do with a whole bunch of things – experiences of racism, being queer, coming into contact with critical theory, the shock and delight of encountering Chinese regional opera for the first time as an undergraduate music major in Australia, fond memories of touring with a youth orchestra but also wondering how I fit in […]. I mean, I can’t really name a single decisive moment. And not all of these experiences are negative.

Samson Young, 'Muted Situation #1: Muted String Quartet', 2014, single channel video, approx. 14 min. Image courtesy the artist.

Samson Young, ‘Muted Situation #1: Muted String Quartet’, 2014, single channel video, approx. 14 min. Image courtesy the artist.

Despite crossing over into contemporary art and engaging in multidisciplinary projects, Young is a practicing musician and continues to compose and perform regularly. He studied music, philosophy and gender studies at the University of Sydney and holds a PhD in Music Composition from Princeton.

The 37-year-old artist’s career has picked up pace in the last few years. He was named the 2013 artist of the year by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and since then has presented his works in a number of group and solo exhibitions at venues all over the world, including 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney; Asia Triennial, Manchester; Arko Art Center, Seoul; Kunsthalle Winterthur, Switzerland; the Moscow Biennale of Young Art, Moscow; Team Gallery, New York (2015); and Para Site, Hong Kong (2016). After his solo in Experimenter, Young will exhibit his works at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (Germany) in December later this year. In 2017, Young will represent his native Hong Kong at the Venice Biennale.

Samson Young. Image courtesy the artist.

Samson Young. Image courtesy the artist.

In 2015, Young’s artistic career skyrocketed after winning the inaugural edition of the Art Basel’s BMW Art Journey. He was chosen to be the first of seven artists to join the Container Artist Residency, which takes a group of selected artists on a world tour aboard a container ship, where they produce artworks. During the residency he created For Whom the Bell Tolls: A Journey Into the Sonic History of Conflict, which centred on the study of bells as a symbol of both peace as well as strife.

The programme allowed him to visit historically significant bells all over the world as part of his research, as well as to study the similarity between bells and cannons. According to the project, both objects are made from the same material and melted down into the other in times of war or peace, as needed.

His past and current experiments in sound art revolve around conflict and war by approaching them through new and inventive methods that are primarily meant to re-focus the viewer’s attention to its latent aspects.

Samson Young, 'To Fanon (Resonance Study I)', 2016, pastel, coloured pencil, xerox print, silk screen print and mixed media on original composition manuscripts (ink on paper), 11.4 x 17 in each, Suite of 5. Image courtesy the artist and Experimenter.

Samson Young, ‘To Fanon (Resonance Study I)’, 2016, pastel, coloured pencil, xerox print, silk screen print and mixed media on original composition manuscripts (ink on paper), 11.4 x 17 in each, Suite of 5. Image courtesy the artist and Experimenter.

To Fanon: Performative power of language

For his show at Experimenter, Young continues his preoccupation with different modes and mediums of conflict. While his previous works such as Nocturne (2015) were focused on the possible role of artists in warfare and using artistic deception to dupe soldiers on the battlefield, here he deviates into the psychology of language as an instrument of power.

For his series “To Fanon”, Young borrows from legendary psychoanalyst and philosopher Frantz Fanon, whose theories on the de-construction of colonialist language used by the Whites on the Blacks were hailed as path breaking. The series is inspired by the great Afro-Caribbean thinker’s proposition that language could be molded to suit the opposing functions of domination as well as resistance. The title of the exhibition is in fact a quote by Fanon from his book Black Skin White Masks.

Samson Young, 'To Fanon (The Bell and the Nightingale)', 2016, pastel, coloured pencil, xerox print, silk screen print and mixed media on original composition manuscripts (ink on paper), 11.4 x 17 in each, Suite of 4. Image courtesy the artist and Experimenter.

Samson Young, ‘To Fanon (The Bell and the Nightingale)’, 2016, pastel, coloured pencil, xerox print, silk screen print and mixed media on original composition manuscripts (ink on paper), 11.4 x 17 in each, Suite of 4. Image courtesy the artist and Experimenter.

The series includes a number of works on paper, which are hand-written manuscripts of Young’s musical compositions made during 2005-2015. Their original function has been disengaged due to Young’s act of vandalising the manuscripts through drawing, colouring and partially covering them with collages of mixed media components that essentially make them unreadable as music scores.

The final product is an artwork that memorialises the original compositions, by transforming them into creatively re-produced ‘readings’ carefully constructed by the artist. The standout feature of these works is a word or set of words printed in bold letters in the centre across most of them, which catch the viewer’s attention before the other elements come into focus.

Samson Young, 'To Fanon (Out of the water, out of itself)', 2016, pastel, coloured pencil, xerox print, silk screen print and mixed media on original composition manuscripts (ink on paper), 11.8 x 16.5 in each, Suite of 7. Image courtesy the artist and Experimenter.

Samson Young, ‘To Fanon (Out of the water, out of itself)’, 2016, pastel, coloured pencil, xerox print, silk screen print and mixed media on original composition manuscripts (ink on paper), 11.8 x 16.5 in each, Suite of 7. Image courtesy the artist and Experimenter.

On his website, Young explains the motive behind these works:

These compositions had previously received public performances, and sound recordings of these performances exist, but I did not make copies of the manuscripts before vandalizing them, meaning that I will not be able to stage further performances of these compositions in the future. Layered on top of these original manuscripts are images, texts, musical signs, and objects that have performative power in the sense that they summon something into being: an action, a sound, a gesture, a flinch.

“I do”, “I validate”, “I protest” and “I beg” are some of the phrases used by the artist teamed with photographs, clips and random doodles over music notes drawn with soft pastels. Young says that while musical notations possess a performative power in a more literal sense, these phrases have a kind of potential energy that trip with excess, inciting a reaction in the viewer.

Samson Young, 'To Fanon (But my mother weeps rich black tears), 2016, pastel, coloured pencil, xerox print, silk screen print and mixed media on original composition manuscripts (ink on paper), 11.8 x 16.5 in each, Suite of 8. Image courtesy the artist and Experimenter.

Samson Young, ‘To Fanon (But my mother weeps rich black tears), 2016, pastel, coloured pencil, xerox print, silk screen print and mixed media on original composition manuscripts (ink on paper), 11.8 x 16.5 in each, Suite of 8. Image courtesy the artist and Experimenter.

Samson Young, 'Muted Situation #1: Muted String Quartet', 2014, single channel video, approx. 14 min. Image courtesy the artist.

Samson Young, ‘Muted Situation #1: Muted String Quartet’, 2014, single channel video, approx. 14 min. Image courtesy the artist.

Muted Situations: Vandalism or conscious re-imagination?

Another interesting project that Young is exhibiting in his current show is an older series dating back to 2014 called “Muted Situations”. A visually engaging performance piece, he plays around with the idea of recreating a musical or dance performance, or any experience where sound has a defining role, by consciously muting the most obvious sounds. The result is a shift of focus from the dominant sounds to those that go by unnoticed. In his own words,

[…] The act of muting is an intensely focused re-imagination and re-construction of the auditory. It involves the conscious suppression of dominant voices, as a way to uncover the unheard and the marginalized, or to make apparent certain assumptions about hearing and sounding.

Click here to watch ‘Muted Lion Dance’ by Samson Young on Vimeo

Young has put up a long list of possible situations and instructions on his website about how to re-create them without sound. A few of them are on display as a video installation in the exhibition. For instance, in Muted String Quartet instead of the melody, one notices the controlled breathing of musicians and sounds of their hands sliding up and down the fingerboard.

In Muted Lion Dance, the dancers seem to prance about in silence and instead of the strong percussive music that accompanies such a performance, what one can hear are sounds of the lions’ heads rattling, and the stomping of the feet in unison, keeping to the absent beats. Surprisingly though, in both cases the muting does not necessarily compromise on the theatricality of the performance, but oddly amplifies it through our own efforts at attempting to pick up sound.

Samson Young, 'Muted Situation #2: Muted Lion Dance', 2014, single channel video, approx. 7 min. Image courtesy the artist.

Samson Young, ‘Muted Situation #2: Muted Lion Dance’, 2014, single channel video, approx. 7 min. Image courtesy the artist.

While silent events and performances are not uncommon in contemporary art, Young distinguishes his experiments with ‘muting’ as separate from ‘silencing’. His discovery of the series began with a simple curiosity, as he tells Art Radar:

I play the double bass, and as a double bassist in an orchestra, you spend a whole lot of time waiting for things to happen. To kill time during rehearsals, I used to silently finger passages. I started to imagine the whole bass section silently fingering a piece, and how awesome that would sound – which, actually does happen occasionally in sectional practice sessions. So that’s how the first Muted Situation came into being, and then I kept thinking about other similar situations. The thinking process gave me pleasure. Of course this act of muting (which, I stress, is very different to John Cage’s notion of silence – which is a kind of relinquishing of control; muted-ness is an active re-prioritization and it’s highly controlled) could be imagined to have certain political implications.

Ria Sarkar

1299

Related Topics: Hong Kong artists, sound, installation, video, sound art, new media, gallery shows, events in Kolkata

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