“Peace and Paper”: Iran Contemporary Art Biennale 2016

Biennale in Iran invites cross-cultural connection through fragile medium. 

The second edition of the Iran Contemporary Art Biennale brings together paintings, photographs, installations and video art highlighting peace, not war. 

Soheila Sokhanvari, 'We Come in Peace', 2016, egg tempera on vintage passport (dated 1929). Image courtesy the artist.

Soheila Sokhanvari, ‘We Come in Peace’, 2016, egg tempera on vintage passport (dated 1929). Image courtesy the artist.

The Iran Contemporary Art Biennale (ICA Biennale) successfully concluded its second edition “Peace on Paper” on 31 July at the Niavaran Cultural Center (NCC) in Tehran, with the second leg of the Biennale opening on 20 September 2016 at the Abadan Museum of Contemporary art.

Originally, the Biennale was slated to open in Istanbul, with paper chosen as the primary medium due to the ease in which the material could be transported. After the terrorist bombing of the Istanbul Ataturk Airport in early July 2016, the Biennale was moved back to Tehran, with an even more urgent message towards cultivating peace.

Max Papeschi, 'Enjoy North Korea', 2015, digital print, 70 x 160 cm. Image courtesy the artist and ICAB.

Max Papeschi, ‘Enjoy North Korea’, 2015, digital print, 70 x 160 cm. Image courtesy the artist and ICAB.

Founded by Majid Abbas Farahani, the organisation originally known as the Culture of Peace Biennale (CP Biennale), the Iranian Contemporary Art Biennale aims to provide an international platform for exchange through the “language” of contemporary art, as noted in the event’s press release:

The Iran Contemporary Art Biennale is an independent and non-profit organization and has been dedicated to the advancement of discourse on peace in the field of contemporary art in Iran. It provides a context for the production and exhibition of Iranian as well as international contemporary art and related cultural practices.

The “ICA Biennale” began as a venture to showcase Iranian contemporary art by providing an international platform for innovative contemporary Iranian artists; alongside established international artists so as to create a space for cultural and social appreciation and exchange.

Shadi Ghadirian, 'Nil' from the "Nil" series, 2008, 76 x 76 cm. Image courtesy the artist and ICA Biennale.

Shadi Ghadirian, ‘Nil’ from the “Nil” series, 2008, 76 x 76 cm. Image courtesy the artist and ICA Biennale.

“Peace on Paper” continues where the first edition “The Culture of Peace” left off, with some 90 Iranian visual artists participating and 35 international artists hailing from around the world and 15 galleries present, including three from Germany, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Artist Shadi Noyan is Curatorial Advisor for the second edition.

Exhibition highlights include prominent Iranian artists:

With international artists rounding out the exhibition:

Koorosh Shishegaran, "War on the ground - Peace on the Paper" installation shot, 2016, mixed media, 2 x 5 m. Image courtesy the artist and ICAB.

Koorosh Shishegaran, “War on the ground – Peace on the Paper” installation shot, 2016, mixed media, 2 x 5 m. Image courtesy the artist and ICAB.

A global contingency of artists is necessary towards fulfilling the Biennale’s raison d’être, with forums, performances, installations and other unique projects offering opportunities for discovery, as diaspora artist Soheila Sokhanvari told Art Radar:

It is important for Iranian artists to be showing alongside international artists in the heartland of Tehran because it reveals a cross-cultural dialogue, allowing both artists and the local audience to discover similarities and differences — and most importantly, to be able to put their own culture within context to the world as a whole. In addition, it allows artists from outside Iran to be exposed to new audiences inside the country.

Mehrdad Mohebali, Untitled, 2016, acrylic on cardboard, 33 x 95 cm. Image courtesy the artist and ICA Biennale.

Mehrdad Mohebali, Untitled, 2016, acrylic on cardboard, 33 x 95 cm. Image courtesy the artist and ICA Biennale.

These individual connections in turn provide an outlet for understanding each other at the most fundamental level and seek to open up a new narrative around war, conflict and injustice through cooperation and “understanding what creates a culture of human society”.

Shadi Noyani, 'Bed Peace', 2016, oil on cardboard, 150 x 220 cm. Image courtesy the artist and ICA Biennale.

Shadi Noyani, ‘Bed Peace’, 2016, oil on cardboard, 150 x 220 cm. Image courtesy the artist and ICA Biennale.

One such artist whose work blurs the lines of separation is Italian artist Cristiana de Marchi. As de Marchi relayed to Art Radar, her work White Flags was extremely well suited to the Biennale’s overarching theme and the medium:

The works are a selection from “White Flags”, a series of embroideries on paper that I realized in 2014. Over the past years, I have worked on reproducing on a monochrome palette the flags of all countries (both on paper and canvas, always using embroidery as a medium). This series is focusing on the Middle East and addresses areas of conflict and political disagreement, by neutralizing the meaning of colours and symbols displayed on the national flags, thus introducing the possibility of a connection beyond boundaries and national representations.

Cristiana de Marchi, 'Algeria' from the "White Flags" series, 2014 (ongoing), embroidery on paper, 21 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist and 1x1 Gallery.Cristiana de Marchi, 'Algeria' from the "White Flags" series, 2014 (ongoing), embroidery on paper, 21 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist and 1x1 Gallery.

Cristiana de Marchi, ‘Algeria’ from the “White Flags” series, 2014 (ongoing), embroidery on paper, 21 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist and 1×1 Gallery.

Despite the very real conflicts and increase of strife throughout today’s troubled world, Farahani spoke of the Biennale’s profundity in the Tehran Times, with the idea that the event and message will continue on, regardless:

If we only focused on peace against war, it would turn to be a repetitious topic. In this collection we did not think of peace as a sweet world, but focused on the influence of different factors in the world on one another. Actually, the participation of various artists in a single event conveys the meaning of peace in itself.

Lisa Pollman

1267

Related Topics: Iranian artists, biennales, paper, art and the community, events in Tehran

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Indian artist Amar Kanwar’s “The Sovereign Forest” at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore holds major solo exhibition of Indian artist Amar Kanwar.

“The Sovereign Forest” is the result of Amar Kanwar’s continued effort to document the industrial interventions that have transformed and in part destroyed the face of Odisha’s landscape since the 1990s. The project “initiates a creative response to the understanding of crime, politics, human rights and ecology”.

1_Installation view of 'The Sovereign Forest' by Amar Kanwar at dOCUMENTA (13). Photo: Henrik Stromberg.

Installation view of ‘The Sovereign Forest’ by Amar Kanwar at dOCUMENTA (13). Photo: Henrik Stromberg.

In 2012, Amar Kanwar’s The Sovereign Forest opened for public viewing at the Samadrusti campus in Bhubaneswar, Odisha as a permanent installation in collaboration with activist media organisation Samadrusti. Since then, many visitors have shared insights and contributed more evidence, making The Sovereign Forest an ongoing and constantly expanding project.

The Sovereign Forest is produced with the support of Samadrusti, Odisha, India; Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, United Kingdom; Public Press, New Delhi, India; and dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany.

The exhibition “The Sovereign Forest” running at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore until 9 October 2016 and its public programmes are curated by Professor Ute Meta Bauer, Khim Ong and Magdalena Magiera, in collaboration with Amar Kanwar, Sudhir Pattnaik and Sherna Dastur.

The first impression likely to be made by “The Sovereign Forest” at NTU CCA Singapore, lies in its lighting – or, to be precise, the relative lack thereof. This intensity of darkness effectively highlights the works on show: projections of film both immense and minute, as well as a number of spot-lit artworks.

Amar Kanwar, "The Sovereign Forest", 30 July – 9 October 2016, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Installation view of 'The Scene of Crime', 2011. Image courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.

Amar Kanwar, “The Sovereign Forest”, 30 July – 9 October 2016, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Installation view of ‘The Scene of Crime’, 2011. Image courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.

The darkness of the space and the stark contrasts between shadow and light are an apt environment for the narratives that unfold throughout the exhibition, as Amar Kanwar (b. 1964, New Delhi) presents his long-term effort to document the destruction of the landscape and its effect on the population in Odisha, an eastern state in India that has been transformed and defaced since the 1990s through industrial interventions.

This intensity of light and dark carries over to the centrepiece of the exhibition, a 42-minute film entitled The Scene of the Crime (2011). The various cuts and transitions often vary dramatically in their brightness, and the audio is, for the most part, ambient noises of low intensity, such of the sounds of nature. Due to the scale of the projection, and the darkness of the gallery around it, it is possible to entertain the illusion that the projection is in fact a window of sorts, a yawning void through which snippets of the state of Odisha can be spied upon.

1_Installation view of 'The Sovereign Forest' by Amar Kanwar at dOCUMENTA (13). Photo: Henrik Stromberg.

Installation view of ‘The Sovereign Forest’ by Amar Kanwar at dOCUMENTA (13). Photo: Henrik Stromberg.

The premise of the film may be inferred from its solemn title, but within the film itself, it unfolds in bits and pieces, primarily through text which accompanies the film’s lavish imagery. Accompanied by Kanwar’s lush, painterly cinematography – the scale of which varies from wide landscape shots to details of a single plant, or a single stream – the text slowly lays out the story of a woman who brings a man’s death before a court, only to be told that the court does not recognise the evidence presented. Kanwar extrapolates this to the Kafkaesque extreme that, in the eyes of the law, this man, named Nidhan, is neither dead nor alive.

This textual narration has shades of the fantastical as well, touches of magical realism such as the woman bearing a map of Kalinga in her eyes, or of her Orphean quest to find Nidhan’s soul. And what of the reason for Nidhan’s suspension between life and death? His discovery of old land ownership records which could be used to dispute recent claims in the area, much to the displeasure of local authorities and mining companies. Every image in the film, in fact, is of places earmarked for mining and industrial development, being acquired by the state and private companies, displacing communities in the process.

Installation view of 'The Sovereign Forest' by Amar Kanwar at dOCUMENTA (13). Photo: Henrik Stromberg.

Installation view of ‘The Sovereign Forest’ by Amar Kanwar at dOCUMENTA (13). Photo: Henrik Stromberg.

As the CCA’s Founding Director Ute Meta Bauer puts it, the film offers the experience of a landscape prior to erasure – and with five years having passed since its initial release, there is a question which surfaces, uncomfortably: which of these landscapes no longer exists? And will there come a time when the film will be the only remaining record of these places, now turned to vast pools of blood-red bauxite tailings, or heaps of spoil, and so on?

It is a moment of violent realisation mirrored by a sudden outburst of violence in the film. About halfway through The Scene of the Crime, a placid shot of a cow transitions abruptly to shaky hand-held camera footage of riot police charging, screaming and firing rubber bullets. The very next scene opens with what appear to be graves, followed some time later by shots of a large, menacing-sounding industrial complex at night.

Amar Kanwar, "The Sovereign Forest", 30 July – 9 October 2016, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Installation view. Image courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.

Amar Kanwar, “The Sovereign Forest”, 30 July – 9 October 2016, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Installation view. Image courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.

With the premise of rural communities contending with unsympathetic authorities and rapacious megacorporations firmly in mind, the next thing visitors are likely to encounter is The Seed Room, so-named for cataloguing 272 varieties of rice grown in Odisha. It is a stunning display of diversity, particularly when most people might be hard-pressed to name half a dozen types of rice. There is an element of reliquary in this display, offering up for consumption not the rice itself or some abstract notion of its diversity, but its sensual existence, embodying what must be a staggering amount of human labour.

Amar Kanwar, "The Sovereign Forest", 30 July – 9 October 2016, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Installation view. Image courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.

Amar Kanwar, “The Sovereign Forest”, 30 July – 9 October 2016, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Installation view. Image courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.

Some books share the space with the display of rice – The Seed Book (2012) adds a layer of depth to the display of cereal, presenting both an index of the rice varieties in the space, their uses and other characteristics, as well as documentation of some rice-growing experiments. More harrowing, however, is In Memory Of (2012), which memorialises those Indian farmers who committed suicide as a result of a system of debt peonage. This is not a memorial in the vein of some stately funeral cortege, but a visceral cry of anguish – among the images of the book are the funerals of the farmers concerned, and a number of their bodies are visibly mutilated.

Surrounding The Seed Room are Selections from the Evidence Archive (2012-2015) – a collection of printed and archival material sprawling across a long wall – and a number of book/projection works, interactive installations in which large printed books made of coarse, hand-made paper may be read while moving images are projected on one side.

Amar Kanwar, "The Sovereign Forest", 30 July – 9 October 2016, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Installation view. Image courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.

Amar Kanwar, “The Sovereign Forest”, 30 July – 9 October 2016, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Installation view. Image courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.

As its title makes apparent, Selections from the Evidence Archive presents some of the material culled from a parent archive, consisting of a dizzying array of all manner of printed material: photographs, maps both hand-drawn and topographical, newspaper clippings, official-looking printouts and hand-written matter, among other types. Despite the language barrier posed, it still speaks volumes of the tenacity and organisation that undergirds both Kanwar’s art and the struggles it engages with.

One notable element here, in simple visual terms, are documents of a petition signing – the force of each name bolstered by inked fingerprints. A particularly resonant aspect of this archival presentation is that the parent archive resides in Odisha, the state that is the subject of the entire exhibition, where the archive forms a living, growing body of evidence – a microcosm of which has made its way to Singapore.

Amar Kanwar, "The Sovereign Forest", 30 July – 9 October 2016, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Installation view. Image courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.

Amar Kanwar, “The Sovereign Forest”, 30 July – 9 October 2016, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Installation view. Image courtesy NTU CCA Singapore.

Despite their apparent, relatively small scale, the three book/projection installations The Counting Sisters and Other Stories (2011), The Prediction (1991 – 2012) and The Constitution (2012) also offer a great depth of material to dive into. It is The Counting Sisters and Other Stories that may weigh-in as the heaviest – its video component is an alternate cut of The Scene of the Crime, containing the same footage, ordered differently. The stories told here are of a distinctly magical-realist bent – the ‘counting sisters’ in the title are singers for the dead of such potency that the clouds themselves weep, and other characters include a pair of twins who relate the past and the future respectively.

Amar Kanwar, 'The Sovereign Forest' at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, England, 2013-2014. Photo: Jonty Wilde.

Amar Kanwar, “The Sovereign Forest”, installation view at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, England, 2013-2014. Photo: Jonty Wilde.

Turning the pages of these books yields an incalculable number of possible permutations of textual narrative on the left page, and moving image on the right, given the volume of both the footage and the stories. The other two books may seem more modest in scale, with their videos running under 10 minutes each, but they still constitute impressive masses of narrative and knowledge.

Amar Kanwar, "The Sovereign Forest2, installation view at TBA21 Vienna, Austria, 2013-2014.

Amar Kanwar, “The Sovereign Forest2, installation view at TBA21 Vienna, Austria, 2013-2014.

Anchoring the far end of the gallery is another large-scale film projection, though one a little more modest in scope than the towering The Scene of the Crime. Instead, A Love Story (2010), which runs for just over five minutes, functions as a sort of postscript to both the first film and the exhibition as a whole. The narrative concerns a man pining for his love, mirroring the search for Nidhan in the first film. Rather than the largely ambient audio of The Scene of the Crime, there is instead the faint, breath-like hum of what might be a harmonium, building towards a burst of flute-playing near the film’s end. Just as the exhibition as a whole is bracketed by these two films, this latter film begins and ends with the same, evocative phrase:

The suddenness of your departure is still hard to believe.

Bruce Quek

1271

Related Topics: Indian artists, installation, video, film, art about nature, art about society, political art, museum shows, events in Singapore

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Vietnam’s ZeroStation launches new Pan-Asian project Asian In/Visible Station – curator interview

ZeroStation’s new project aims to foster dialogue and collaboration within the Asian art scene.

Funded and co-organised by the Japan Foundation Asia Center, the new project is launching on 28 August 2016, spearheaded by Ho Chi Minh City’s independent art space ZeroStation in collaboration with a wide network of partners in Vietnam and the Asia region.

The entrance to ZeroStation in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

The entrance to ZeroStation in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

Asian In/Visible Station (AIS) is made possible by funding from Japan Foundation Asia Center and is organised and curated by Ho Chi Minh City-based independent art space ZeroStation, one of only two independent art spaces in Asia selected to establish an exclusive art project in the region (the other being CAC – Chiangmai Art Conversation).

The ZeroStation AIS project will run for the first year from 2016 to 2017, and is about to launch with an opening event on 28 August 2016, held at one of the local partner spaces in Ho Chi Minh City, Cultural Salon Saturday Café.

Art Radar caught up with ZeroStation Founder, Director and Curator and Curator-in-Chief of AIS Nguyen Nhu Huy to learn more about the unique project that will create a network of partnerships in Asia-Pacific and is set to give an exciting boost to the contemporary art scene in Vietnam.

Founder, Director and Curator of ZeroStation, and Curator-in-Chief of Asian In/Visible Station Nguyen Nhu Huy. Image courtesy Nguyen Nhu Huy.

Founder, Director and Curator of ZeroStation, and Curator-in-Chief of Asian In/Visible Station Nguyen Nhu Huy. Image courtesy Nguyen Nhu Huy.

Why is the project called Asian In/Visible Station?

Asian In/Visible Station is the concept created by ZeroStation for this project in Vietnam. There are many ways to interpret it. In/Visible is a play with words. At the same time, it is ‘in visible’ (a visibility in action), and it is also ‘invisible’ (not being seen). This concept covers all the ways we look at and do with this project.

Firstly, we have to look at what we call Asia or Southeast Asia. This is in fact a political imagination. Under this imagination, all other possibilities of Asia are reduced, or worse, erased, so that they become invisible. In this circumstance, the visible aspect of other possibilities of what “Asia” or “Southeast Asia” can be that are not based on political rhetoric need to be made. We make ourselves visible: the visibility that breaks all the political norms that always reduce everything to propaganda. Now the visible opens up new possibilities that can go into an unknown world, based on individualism, not on collectivism. The visible now is also something that is not a condition but an action, in dialogue or even in conflict, which hopefully can go beyond all political correctness!

Secondly, the play with words of In/Visible also aims to reveal and touch upon the essence of all contemporary artworks and project that are transparent to different points of view but at the same time might also be incomprehensible. These are the two faces, in essence, of all contemporary works and projects that open up to creative dialogues and that can continue the discussion in the mind of audiences after they have been shown. Here the visibility is NOT the exposed which follows the rhetoric of all commercial objects. In this curatorial circumstance, we prefer projects and artists who can push the work to go beyond the normal white cube culture. This means that such projects should be able to challenge their own visibility by providing an element of invisibility, in order to create a necessary sophisticated environment for all true contemporary works and projects to exist: an environment of conflict between dichotomies such as accessible and understandable, simple and transparent, sophisticated and confused.

Artist Nguyen Tran Uu Dam giving a talk at ZeroStation. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

Artist Nguyen Tran Uu Dam giving a talk at ZeroStation. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

Regarding practical matters, for example, if there is a symposium proposal for the project, we would prefer to see it as something that is different from the normal or usual kind of symposium, which is full of images, in a closed room with high ceiling, a projector, Power Point presentations… of course we can do that and will do that if it is necessary in some cases. But we would prefer to be different… maybe it would be in the form of a group of artists/curators wandering all over Saigon and talking casually (with a camera to capture their exchanges and conversations).

If you know a little bit about the Asian and the Vietnamese contemporary art scenes, you will see that the individuals and organisations all contain the In/Visible in themselves. Everyone [involved in the art scene] seems to know about them, but there are still many things they are hiding. We know just a little of their appearance in comparison to the many possibilities that at the same time they contain.

Let’s take Saturday Coffee [the location of the programme launch on 28 August] as an example. This is a coffee shop and everyone knows about that, but it is also a cultural salon that every weekend introduces cultural and art discussions to the public. However, as the cultural hub downtown, it also contains other possibilities of being something more than a traditional cultural hub, in the way of a Cultural “Salon” as a more critical forum that is open to more challenging events. Arguably, we can see this in the list of artists and creative spaces in Asia and in Saigon as well.

The performance piece 'impurifying' by a local artist in ZeroStation as part of the group show “Establshing the instability”, organised and curated by ZeroStation in 2011. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

The performance piece ‘impurifying’ by a local artist in ZeroStation as part of the group show “Establshing the instability”, organised and curated by ZeroStation in 2011. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

What do you propose to do with the AIS project? 

In/Visible, however, is also understood literally in terms of curatorial structure. We as ZeroStation try to be invisible in terms of curating, so as to be only visible in terms of facilitating. The reason for this way of operating is based on our concept of the space – Zero. Zero Station is only a platform for others to make dialogues happen. We have no essence. You can go on our website to play a game in order to understand who and what we are.

Through AIS we create three kinds of partnerships: 1-local artists, 2-local creative spaces, and 3-Asian individuals and organisations.

Here Zero Station will work as facilitator to create four structures to open up to the possibilities for all the partners to collaborate together.

  • We will create a platform for young critics in Asia to come to Vietnam to do research for a maximum of ten days. Each art critic/curator/researcher will work individually with one young local artist to produce a text or an interview at the end of the researching time.
  • The collaboration between local artists/collectives with Asian artists/curator/researcher. In this structure, one Asian curator/artist/researcher will be invited to Vietnam (suggestion from local artists/group by proposal or invited directly by ZeroStation) to work one or one and a half months with local artists/artist collectives.
  • The platform of the workshop. In this platform ZeroStation will invite experts in Asia to come to Vietnam to share their techniques and ideas with local Vietnamese artists. Each workshop can last a minimum of one week to a maximum of one month.
  • The platform of the symposium or festival. In this platform more artists/researchers/curators in Asia can come here to sit down and discuss contemporary issues that affect the wider Asian contemporary art scene and community.
The three-day workshop “Almost everything about grants, residency and funding body for art”, conducted by Malcome Smith, former Programme Manager at the Australian Centre for Photography, and organised by ZeroStation in 2012, where all local artists could have a chance to learn how to approach and apply for funding and sponsoring bodies for art and culture around the world. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

The three-day workshop “Almost everything about grants, residency and funding body for art”, conducted by Malcome Smith, former Programme Manager at the Australian Centre for Photography, and organised by ZeroStation in 2012, where all local artists could have a chance to learn how to approach and apply for funding and sponsoring bodies for art and culture around the world. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

What is the significance and importance of having such as project right now in Vietnam?

I think the project comes to Vietnam at the right time. This is the time we need to sit down to think about Asia in a richer way than what we have done before. As we all see, Asia now, the same with the world, is facing a lot of dangerous and challenging times in the political sphere. A new fundamentalist nationalism is coming up dangerously under many forms from many corners of Asia. Many fundamentalist ghettos are established to prevent creativity and differences from forming. So this is the right time for this kind of project to be born within Asia.

I like to see this project not about Asia, or ‘Asian-ness’, but a forum for us to think about Asia or Asia-ness in a creative way. We are not only thinking about it, but by practices, by debating, by opening up for new possibilities to occur, we are making the condition for the possibility of it to emerge. Here the invisibility can be the rhetoric for the visibility and vice versa, which makes both the invisibility and visibility not the conflictual relationship of political power but the two organic parts of a true existence that can leave space for the existence of otherness.

A one-week workshop among artists and curators in Vietnam and Southeast Asia in ZeroStation, where they had a chance to share information and skills in curating, organising and making new media art. The workshop was within the project “Carp2dragon”, co-organised and co-curated by ZeroStation, Pandora studio and Institute of Lower Learning. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

A one-week workshop among artists and curators in Vietnam and Southeast Asia in ZeroStation, where they had a chance to share information and skills in curating, organising and making new media art. The workshop was within the project “Carp2dragon”, co-organised and co-curated by ZeroStation, Pandora studio and Institute of Lower Learning. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

How will you be developing your partnerships with other Asian spaces? How will you involve them in the project?

During about ten years my work has brought me all over Asia and I have met many creative people who are either artists or organisers and who have shown and taught me a lot through their practices and wise thinking. They have shown me different ways to think about Asia, about contemporary art, about the relationship between art and life, art work and community. I found that there is a new and different way to think and work with contemporary art.

All of the organisations and individuals who are partners in this project I have worked with before or know pretty well. I did not just approach some famous names to add value to our project, but I chose them because I really want to work or to discuss with them within this platform. And what I’m sure about them [the partners] is that they are building a new way of seeing Asia, seeing the contemporary art in Asia, seeing the new meaning of artists within society. That’s what I would love to be part of and I would love to introduce to Vietnam. I really hope this project can be the platform for us to think and work on a different vision of Asia, contemporary art and collaboration.

Although agreement to be part of the project is a great thing, the hard work and challenging times will come very soon, when we and the partners will have to think about how we can work together in the most creative way. We as ZeroStation team are thinking and working on this very hard to find a way to work together.

The exhibition space for the final exhibition of the project "South country, the South of country”, a collaborative project between Vietnamese and Taiwanese artists from September to December 2012, co-curated and co-organised by ZeroStation, Vietnam and Outsiders Factory, Taiwan. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

The exhibition space for the final exhibition of the project “South country, the South of country”, a collaborative project between Vietnamese and Taiwanese artists from September to December 2012, co-curated and co-organised by ZeroStation, Vietnam and Outsiders Factory, Taiwan. Image courtesy ZeroStation.

Finally, can you explain more about what the development of local partnerships will bring or add to the art scene and its development in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam?

I think the importance of the project is not what it brings literally to the art scene. Of course, there are many positive things that will come of it. However, the most important thing about this project is that it opens up the possibilities for us to see each other, to be visible in the eyes of each other. This is what we call the condition of possibility to work together in the future. For example, all the partner creative spaces in town, can open the collaboration together as well, which can go beyond the framework created by ZeroStation.

The creative spaces in town, which includes galleries, hotels and alternative spaces, artist studios, etc., can also work directly with Asian artists and the organisations who are partners of the project. And of course, the artists in Vietnam have more opportunities to work collaboratively with artists/curators/researchers and organisations in Asia. Seen from this point of view, this project’s best aspect is that it can create the possibility for, not only create, new projects.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

1270

Related Topics: Vietnamese artists, art in Asia, connecting Asia to itself, curatorial practice, events in Vietnam

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5 international biennials and triennials not to miss around Asia in Fall 2016

Art Radar compiles a list of its articles on biennials and triennials around East and Southeast Asia this Fall. 

From the 7th edition of Korea’s Busan Biennale to Japan’s new Triennial the Okayama Art Summit, these five international events will provide thoughtful reflection on new and refreshing curatorial practices in the context of the Biennale infrastructure.

Aichi Triennale venue: the former residence of the Ishihara Family, a registered national tangible cultural property which was built at the end of the Edo period. Image from aichitriennale.jp.

Aichi Triennale venue: the former residence of the Ishihara Family, a registered national tangible cultural property which was built at the end of the Edo period. Image from aichitriennale.jp.

 1. “Homo Faber: A Rainbow Caravan” – 3rd Aichi Triennale

From 11 August to 23 October 2016

Spread across Nagoya City, Okazaki City and Toyohashi City, the multi-venue 3rd Aichi Triennale boasts a rich programme comprising contemporary art, film and opera. This year’s edition placed a particular emphasis on regional diversity, with invited curators from Brazil and Turkey, in addition to curatorial members based in Japan.

An international roster of established and emerging artists will be featured in the exhibitions, including: Liu Wei (b. 1972, China), Song Sanghee (b. 1970, South Korea), Valsan Koorma Kolleri (b. 1953, India) and UuDam Tran Nguyen (b. 1971, Vietnam). As many as 20 artists in the exhibitions will be showing in Japan for the first time.

Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti, 'SELVAGE', 2016, Performance, 180°Ø. Photo: Jochem Jurgens. Image courtesy the artist and Busan Biennale.

Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti, ‘SELVAGE’, 2016, Performance, 180°Ø. Photo: Jochem Jurgens. Image courtesy the artist and Busan Biennale.

2. “Hybridizing Earth, Discussing Multitude” – 7th Busan Biennale

From 3 September to 30 November 2016 

The 7th edition of Korea’s Busan Biennale reflects on the complex notion of multitude by exploring the “here and now” of the biennials system, alongside its consequences on art production and promotion. Curated by international Korean curator and director of the Chinese How Art Museum in Wenzhou Yun Cheagab, the seventh edition of the Busan Biennale spreads across a 16,500-square-metre space including the Busan Museum of Art and the F1963 (KISWIRE Suyeong factory).

This year’s focus on diversity, humanity, global interconnections, and socio-political and economical consequences of the ‘biennale phenomenon’ is explored throughout two exhibitions, “Project 1: an/other avant-garde china-japan-korea” and “Project 2: Hybridizing Earth, Discussing Multitude”, and a series of academic and educational projects under the title of “Project 3: A Ground for Discussing Multitude, Moving Beyond Genres”.

Exterior view of MOCA Yinchuan. Photograph courtesy NAARO.

Exterior view of MOCA Yinchuan. Photograph courtesy NAARO.

3. For an Image, Faster Than Light” – 1st Yinchuan Biennale

From 9 September to 18 December 2016

Yinchuan City’s inaugural biennale is the first of its kind in northwest China and the second in the country. The event is curated by acclaimed artist-curator Bose Krishnamachari, who in 2010 co-founded the Kochi-Muziris Biennale with Riyas Komu. Yinchuan hopes to serve as the first major confluence of global contemporary art or artists in the country, and according to Krishnamachari, be inspired by “the universal elliptical philosophy of end is the beginning and beginning is the end”.

74 artists will be featured in the event, counting Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei, Heman Chong, Hassan Sharif, Riyas Komu, Slavs and Tatars, Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme and Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige amongst their number.

Peter Fischli + David Weiss, 'How to work better', 1991, mural. Installation view, Zurich-Oerlikon. © Peter Fischli David Weiss

Peter Fischli + David Weiss, ‘How to work better’, 1991, mural. Installation view, Zurich-Oerlikon. © Peter Fischli David Weiss

4. Okayama Art Summit 2016 – A New Triennial for Japan

From 9 October to 27 November 2016

Okayama Art Summit‘s Artistic Director Liam Gillick chose the curatorial concept of “Development” for the inaugural edition of the new Japanese triennial, which includes 31 international established and up-and-coming artists. Okayama is home to one of the three most famous gardens in Japan – the Kōrakuen (後楽園) – built in the early 18th century, and the Okayama Castle, around which the exhibition venues and cultural facilities are concentrated.

The 31 artists in the inaugural triennial all play with structures – be they ideological, formal or political – in very specific and individual ways. As the curator writes: each artist “layers their work upon what they encounter” and “they offer various levels of distance to the given structure”. The list of participating artists includes: Peter Fischli + David Weiss, Simon Fujiwara, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Pierre Huyghe, Joan Jonas, Shimabuku, Motoyuki Shitamichi, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Anton Vidokle.

Nguyen Tran Nam, 'We Never Fell', 2010, composite fibreglass sculptures, set of 5 140 x 50 cm (each). Collection of the Artist. Image courtesy Singapore Biennale.

Nguyen Tran Nam, ‘We Never Fell’, 2010, composite fibreglass sculptures, set of 5 140 x 50 cm (each). Collection of the Artist. Image courtesy Singapore Biennale.

5. “An Atlas of Mirror” – Singapore Biennale 2016

From 27 October 2016 to 26 February 2017

Singapore Biennale 2016 will present the work of more than 50 artists hailing from countries across the region such as Singapore, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. Hence, this edition will draw on diverse artistic viewpoints that trace the migratory and intertwining relationships within the region, and reflect on shared histories and current realities with East and South Asia.

Featured artists include India’s Hemali Bhuta (b. 1978), Vietnam’s Bùi Công Khánh (b. 1972), Manila-based Patricia Perez Eustaquio (b. 1977) and Thailand’s Sakarin Krue-On (b. 1965).

 

Click here to read more Art Radar articles on international biennales.

 

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Minneapolis Institute of Art announces new Asian Art Initiative

Mia’s Asian Art Initiative is made possible by a generous bequest from Alfred P. Gale.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art launches a long-term initiative dedicated to creating innovative public programmes, exhibitions and scholarship in Asian art.

View of the original McKim, Mead and White facade of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) on 24th Street, 14 July 2005. Image courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Art.

View of the original McKim, Mead and White facade of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) on 24th Street, 14 July 2005. Image courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) in Minnesota, USA, announced on 15 August 2016 the launch of its new multi-year initiative dedicated to the presentation of and research into Asian art and culture and fostering better understanding and appreciation of the field.

Baptised the Gale Asian Art Initiative, the project is made possible by the unprecedented bequest of USD6 million from Alfred P. Gale, a descendant of two of Minnesota’s early pioneering families who arrived before statehood and played leading roles in the state’s development. The Gale family was actively involved in the Minnesota Historical Society, and Alfred and his wife Leona created the Alfred P. and Leona Gale Fund at the Society to support the Gale Scholars Program and the acquisition and care of rare historical collections, and also became involved in Mia.

Mia was established by the Minnesota Society of Fine Arts (founded in 1883) and opened its doors in 1915, with an addition designed by the late Japanese architect Kenzo Tange in 1974. In June 2006, the museum unveiled a new wing designed by architect Michael Graves. Mia’s permanent collection has grown from 800 works of art to more than 89,000 objects.

Installation view of the Chinese Art galleries at Mia. Image courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Installation view of the Chinese Art galleries at Mia. Image courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The Museum’s collection of Asian art comprises some 16,800 objects ranging from ancient pottery and bronzes to works by contemporary artists, with nearly every Asian culture represented. Areas with particular depth include the arts of China, Japan, and Korea. Over the last three years, this collection has increased by 2,400 objects, due to generous gifts from Bill and Libby Clark and Mary Griggs Burke.

The Museum at present is devoting a large volume of space to the display of Asian art, an impressive 20 percent (32,200 square feet) of the total display space (161,000 square feet) for art at Mia. The permanent display space for Japanese art is the largest in the Western world, with 15 galleries spanning more than 10,000 square feet, and the Museum’s Asian art collection is itself one of the most comprehensive in the United States.

Liu Dan, 'Reimagining the Lystra Scene', 2016, ink on paper, 300 × 200 cm. Collection of Minneapolis Institute of Art. Image courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Liu Dan, ‘Reimagining the Lystra Scene’, 2016, ink on paper, 300 × 200 cm. Collection of Minneapolis Institute of Art. Image courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Thanks to the Gale bequest, Mia’s new Asian Art Initiative will focus on a particular area of its Asian collection each year, with in-depth programming and events. The first year will be dedicated to China, and the programme opens with “Ink Unbound: Paintings by Liu Dan” (17 September 2016 – 29 January 2017), a special exhibition of new works by Liu Dan, one of China’s leading contemporary artists.

Liu Dan will be an artist-in-residence at Mia from 17 to 30 September 2016, and has been commissioned to create a new ink painting for the exhibition that responds to one of Mia’s old master paintings. Liu has selected a 17th-century Dutch painting by Willem de Poorter, St. Paul and St. Barnabas at Lystra. The exhibition will also feature an expansive selection of his recent paintings – including his unique landscapes, rocks, and still-lifes.

In the realm of contemporary art, Mia has also invited Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City-based artist collective The Propeller Group (TPG) to curate an exhibition of Asian funerary objects from the permanent collection to be showcased alongside their video work The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music, a visual and musical journey through the fantastical funeral traditions and rituals of South Vietnam.

Ishida Yūtei, Japanese, 1721–86, 'Flock of Cranes', second half of the 18th century. Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, colour, and gold on gilded paper. Mary Griggs Burke Collection, gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, L2015.33.73.1-2. Image courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Ishida Yūtei, Japanese, 1721–86, ‘Flock of Cranes’, second half of the 18th century. Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, colour, and gold on gilded paper. Mary Griggs Burke Collection, gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, L2015.33.73.1-2. Image courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The Gale Asian Art Initiative will support special programming to invite audiences to familiarise with Asian art and culture through Mia’s collections, such as a Family Day for Chinese New Year with dance and music and an educational series on Chinese art. Future plans include workshops on Japanese courtly painting and tea ceremony.

Mia will also hold special events to increase awareness of and involvement in the museum’s Asian collections and future programmes by local Asian communities. Through the Gale Asian Art Mia will host a Public Practice Fellow with knowledge and expertise in Asian art and public engagement for a three-month residency.

"Art in Bloom 2015: Timeless Art &Fresh Flowers", 30 April - 3 May 2015; The 32nd year of Art in Bloom, a four-day festival of fresh floral arrangements and fine art, presented by the Friends of the Institute at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Image courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Art.

“Art in Bloom 2015: Timeless Art &Fresh Flowers”, 30 April – 3 May 2015; The 32nd year of Art in Bloom, a four-day festival of fresh floral arrangements and fine art, presented by the Friends of the Institute at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Image courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Quoted in the press release, Kaywin Feldman, Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Director and President of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, said:

We are incredibly grateful to Alfred Gale and the Gale family for this significant investment in bringing Mia’s Asian art collection to life in new ways. By establishing the Gale Family Endowment at Mia, Mr. Gale recognized an important truth—that programming is key to maximizing the impact and excitement of permanent displays and exhibitions. This generosity will allow Mia to make centuries of Asian culture even more enticing for our visitors, including schoolchildren, interested adults, and seasoned connoisseurs, and continue to foster Mia’s position as one of the most important centers for the interpretation and study of Asian art.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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‘Attempts to Contain’: India’s Baptist Coelho, winner of 2016 Sovereign Asian Art Prize – artist profile

Baptist Coelho’s artistic meditations on the Siachen Glacier won him the 2016 Sovereign Asian Art Prize.

Sovereign Asian Art Prize winner Baptist Coelho’s “Siachen Glacier Project” is an ongoing decade-long exploration of nation-states, boundaries, the military and what unfolds in sites of conflict. Art Radar profiles the artist and his work.

Baptist Coelho, '537', 2007, 537 white gauze bandages. Approximate dimensions: 110 x 21 x 85 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘537’, 2007, 537 white gauze bandages. Approximate dimensions: 110 x 21 x 85 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Indian artist Baptist Coelho may have only recently won the 2016 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, Asia’s most prestigious contemporary art prize, but he has been studiously thinking about ideas of ‘nation-state’ and boundaries, its traditional arm of influence, i.e., the military, and sites of conflict since as early as 2006, when he began his research for “Siachen Glacier Project”. A year later, in 2007, he produced his first work for the project entitled 537.

It is an installation made with the titular 537 white gauze bandages, stacked on top of each other roughly in the shape of two white mountains. 537 perhaps still has the most pertinent thing to say about the situation at Siachen: an appeal for peace given the futility of the conflicting nationalisms.

Baptist Coelho, '537', 2007, 537 white gauze bandages. Approximate dimensions: 110 x 21 x 85 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Baptist Coelho, '537', 2007, 537 white gauze bandages. Approximate dimensions: 110 x 21 x 85 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘537’, 2007, 537 white gauze bandages. Approximate dimensions: 110 x 21 x 85 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

At over 5700 metres above the sea level, Siachen is the highest battleground in the world, and over the years, it has become a symbol for the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan. The two countries have shared a strained relationship since the seperation of India into two parts in 1947, and have subsequently fought three official wars post-partition. In the 1984 war, Siachen became the battleground where the rivalry between the countries unfolded, creating the conflict that lasts to date.

The two hill-like mounds of white bandages in 537 tell of the wounds, and the healing, care and protection afterwards; but the work also tells of the readiness in anticipation of the wounds to come. In Siachen, though, these wounds do not come from the prospective enemy.

Baptist Coelho, '537', 2007, 537 white gauze bandages. Approximate dimensions: 110 x 21 x 85 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘537’, 2007, 537 white gauze bandages. Approximate dimensions: 110 x 21 x 85 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Both countries have about 150 manned outposts in the glacier located in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region, where the clamour for self-determination by the people of Jammu and Kashmir is now reaching a crescendo. It is estimated that more lives are lost due to the extreme weather conditions in Siachen – temperatures drop as low as -60 degree Celsius – than actual armed conflicts, despite which each soldier spends at least three months at a stretch there. For two lower-middle income countries, it is also extremely expensive to run the military outposts in the glacier – perhaps this could be interpreted as a masculine display of power, or an obstinate devotion to fantasies of nationhood.

Baptist Coelho, 'Attempts to contain', 2015, 8 photographs on archival paper. Print dimensions: 2 Nos. (W 76 x H 50.5 cm), 2 Nos. ( 40.5 x 50.8 cm), 1 No. (38 x 30.5 cm), 2 Nos. (45.5 x 30.5 cm), 1 No. (30.5 x 38 cm). Archival Paper: PhotoRag, 308 gsm, acid-free. Approximate installation dimensions: W 391 x H 157 X D 15 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘Attempts to contain’, 2015, 8 photographs on archival paper. Print dimensions: 2 Nos. (W 76 x H 50.5 cm), 2 Nos. ( 40.5 x 50.8 cm), 1 No. (38 x 30.5 cm), 2 Nos. (45.5 x 30.5 cm), 1 No. (30.5 x 38 cm). Archival Paper: PhotoRag, 308 gsm, acid-free. Approximate installation dimensions: W 391 x H 157 X D 15 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

“Attempts to Contain” (2015), the collection for which Coelho was awarded the 2016 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, is a series of eight photographs of varied dimensions on archival paper. In the photoseries, orifices are safely shut and fingers and limbs urgently clasp each other; Coelho suggests that the idea of the photoseries is to “[…] explore how the body responds to the physical and psychological need to protect itself by forming a mesh of interlocking body parts”. The desperately clinging, dismantled parts of the human body form twisted and tense shapes that seem to juxtapose the pressure of a soldier’s duty and the innate instinct to protect and adapt to different situations.

Baptist Coelho, 'Attempts to contain', 2015, 8 photographs on archival paper. Print dimensions: 2 Nos. (W 76 x H 50.5 cm), 2 Nos. ( 40.5 x 50.8 cm), 1 No. (38 x 30.5 cm), 2 Nos. (45.5 x 30.5 cm), 1 No. (30.5 x 38 cm). Archival Paper: PhotoRag, 308 gsm, acid-free. Approximate installation dimensions: W 391 x H 157 X D 15 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘Attempts to contain’, 2015, 8 photographs on archival paper. Print dimensions: 2 Nos. (W 76 x H 50.5 cm), 2 Nos. ( 40.5 x 50.8 cm), 1 No. (38 x 30.5 cm), 2 Nos. (45.5 x 30.5 cm), 1 No. (30.5 x 38 cm). Archival Paper: PhotoRag, 308 gsm, acid-free. Approximate installation dimensions: W 391 x H 157 X D 15 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, 'Attempts to contain', 2015, 8 photographs on archival paper. Print dimensions: 2 Nos. (W 76 x H 50.5 cm), 2 Nos. ( 40.5 x 50.8 cm), 1 No. (38 x 30.5 cm), 2 Nos. (45.5 x 30.5 cm), 1 No. (30.5 x 38 cm). Archival Paper: PhotoRag, 308 gsm, acid-free. Approximate installation dimensions: W 391 x H 157 X D 15 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘Attempts to contain’, 2015, 8 photographs on archival paper. Print dimensions: 2 Nos. (W 76 x H 50.5 cm), 2 Nos. ( 40.5 x 50.8 cm), 1 No. (38 x 30.5 cm), 2 Nos. (45.5 x 30.5 cm), 1 No. (30.5 x 38 cm). Archival Paper: PhotoRag, 308 gsm, acid-free. Approximate installation dimensions: W 391 x H 157 X D 15 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, 'Beneath it all… I am human…', 2009, (set of DVD stills) audio/video running time: 11m:05s loop. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘Beneath it all… I am human…’, 2009, (set of DVD stills) audio/video running time: 11m:05s loop. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

“Attempts to Contain” is a continuation of Coelho’s 2009 audio-visual work entitled Beneath it all… I am human…, wherein a Siachen soldier’s uniform is removed layer by layer to finally reveal the soldier’s body underneath, replete with flesh, bones and skin.

Undressed of the uniform that literally protects the soldier from the life-threatening cold outside, the body becomes vulnerable but liberated from meaning, from nationalisms; it becomes free from belonging to any of the sides. But how long can the same body sustain itself that way in the severe cold? “Attempts to Contain”, then, becomes the answer to the question of how to protect oneself beyond the uniform, within the boundaries of the witnessing body.

Baptist Coelho, 'Beneath it all… I am human…', 2009, (DVD still) audio/video running time: 11m:05s loop. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘Beneath it all… I am human…’, 2009, (DVD still) audio/video running time: 11m:05s loop. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

For someone born far away from Siachen in Mumbai, and based there, it is perhaps an odd choice of subject to dedicate so much of one’s life to. When asked about this, Coelho says:

To date and even in the past, I have never understood the army (their purpose, their ways, etc.) and this not-able-to-understand was one of the starting points for to me beginning the research.

Baptist Coelho, 'Beneath it all… I am human…', 2009, (DVD still) audio/video running time: 11m:05s loop. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘Beneath it all… I am human…’, 2009, (DVD still) audio/video running time: 11m:05s loop. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Much like his eagerness to be open to subjects that evade understanding, Coelho is open to various media, and often works with installation, video, sound, photography, found object, and site-specific and public art projects. In terms of subject matter, he has worked with ideas of urbanism and migration, aside from the Siachen Project.

His intention, it seems, as evident in many of his works, is to unfurl the details of the fabric that are woven into life-stories – sometimes quite literally. For instance, he is particularly interested in the material things that give meaning to a solider: his uniform, his ribbons, the locations of his duty, the basic amenities that will allow his survival.

Baptist Coelho, 'Ribbons I', 2015, 6 bars made of various Siachen soldier’s clothing, sponge and wood. Single bar dimensions: W 9.5 x H 72 x D 1 in. Approximate display dimensions: W 68 x H 70 x D 22 in. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘Ribbons I’, 2015, 6 bars made of various Siachen soldier’s clothing, sponge and wood. Single bar dimensions: W 9.5 x H 72 x D 1 in. Approximate display dimensions: W 68 x H 70 x D 22 in. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Ribbons I (2015) is an installation of six vertical bars clothed in ribbons made of various items of clothing and artefacts of daily use by the soldiers posted at Siachen, such as pants, jackets, socks, blankets and so on. It is reminiscent of the service ribbons worn by officers in their military services. Each bar consists of four different types of ribbons, much like the grades of awards given for bravery and heroism within the national military economy of gallantry.

Baptist Coelho, 'Ribbons I', 2015, 6 bars made of various Siachen soldier’s clothing, sponge and wood. Single bar dimensions: W 9.5 x H 72 x D 1 in. Approximate display dimensions: W 68 x H 70 x D 22 in. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘Ribbons I’, 2015, 6 bars made of various Siachen soldier’s clothing, sponge and wood. Single bar dimensions: W 9.5 x H 72 x D 1 in. Approximate display dimensions: W 68 x H 70 x D 22 in. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

”Do we have a choice?” #1 (2009) is a human-sized puppet, made with a suspended phantom-like Siachen soldier’s uniform hanging from a wooden cross-bar, replete with strings tied to the limbs. In this work, Coelho attempts again to see beyond the common perceptions of the military as a locus of power, but rather as another arm in the design that sustains nation-states.

Baptist Coelho, 'Do we have a choice?” #1', 2009, installation with soldier’s clothing, sponge, string and wood. Installation dimensions: variable. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘Do we have a choice?” #1’, 2009, installation with soldier’s clothing, sponge, string and wood. Installation dimensions: variable. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

The word ‘Siachen’ comes from the Balti – the Tibetan language spoken in the Baltistan Division in Gilgit-Baltistan, the northernmost administrative territory of Pakistan – terms Sia, referring to the genera of roses that grow widely in the region, and chen, meaning an object found in abundance. Siachen, therefore, as post-colonial irony would have it, means ‘the land of many roses’.

Baptist Coelho, 'Do we have a choice?” #1', 2009, installation with soldier’s clothing, sponge, string and wood. Installation dimensions: variable. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘Do we have a choice?” #1’, 2009, installation with soldier’s clothing, sponge, string and wood. Installation dimensions: variable. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, 'The Rose I', 2015, white gauze bandages, MDF plywood and synthetic resin adhesive. Rose Dimensions: W 50 x H 60 x D 6 in. Display dimensions: W 50 x H 100 x D 6 in. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘The Rose I’, 2015, white gauze bandages, MDF plywood and synthetic resin adhesive. Rose Dimensions: W 50 x H 60 x D 6 in. Display dimensions: W 50 x H 100 x D 6 in. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Coelho draws on this irony to construct The Rose I (2015), which is made from white gauze bandages of various sizes grouped next to each other to form a rose derived from the American artist Cy Twombly‘s 2008 lush purple-hued painting Untitled (Blue Roses). Coelho’s rose, made of white cotton bandages, so far away from the vibrant blue and purple of Twombly’s, tells the story of Siachen and its landscape as the ethereally beautiful witness to this human conflict made of bandages, blood, cold, heroism and animosity.

Baptist Coelho, 'The Rose I', 2015, (detail) white gauze bandages, MDF plywood and synthetic resin adhesive. Rose Dimensions: W 50 x H 60 x D 6 in. Display dimensions: W 50 x H 100 x D 6 in. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coelho, ‘The Rose I’, 2015, (detail) white gauze bandages, MDF plywood and synthetic resin adhesive. Rose Dimensions: W 50 x H 60 x D 6 in. Display dimensions: W 50 x H 100 x D 6 in. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Coelho uses bandages as a vehicle for revealing what is contained in the body of a soldier at Siachen again in another early work entitled Altitude Sickness, Frostbite, Chilblains, Arterial Hypertension, Deep Vein Thromboses, Snow-blindness, Hypothermia, High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema, High Altitude Cerebral Oedema… (2009). It is a digital print photograph on archival paper that depicts a bunch of snow-white bandages strewn on the hardened snow, abandoned.

The title refers to the endless number of fatal illnesses that might befall soldiers during their three-month long compulsory posting on the Siachen glacier. More than that, though, it gives us glimpses of a time long after the soldiers are gone, when those who will look at the fossilised burial of the snow-bandages – symbols of wounds and bleeding first and foremost, before protection – and think of those who left the remnants with pity, as though that is all the apocalypse left behind.

Baptist Coehlo, 'Altitude Sickness, Frostbite, Chilblains, Arterial Hypertension, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Snow-blindness, Hypothermia, High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema, High Altitude Cerebral Oedema...', 2009, digital print on archival paper. Print dimension: H 82 x W 109 cm. Archival Paper: Epson Premium Semi Matt, 260 gsm. Printer: Epson Stylus Pro 11880. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Baptist Coehlo, ‘Altitude Sickness, Frostbite, Chilblains, Arterial Hypertension, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Snow-blindness, Hypothermia, High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema, High Altitude Cerebral Oedema…’, 2009, digital print on archival paper. Print dimension: H 82 x W 109 cm. Archival Paper: Epson Premium Semi Matt, 260 gsm. Printer: Epson Stylus Pro 11880. Image courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai; LAMO, Leh.

Coelho is currently undertaking an artist-in-residency programme as the Leverhume Artist-in-Residence at the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London, the outcome of which will be exhibited in the upcoming exhibition at Somerset House in London, titled “Traces of War”, running from 25 October to 18 December 2016.

Lily Tekseng

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Related Topics: art prizes, Indian artists, war art, mixed-media, found object, sculpture, artist in residence

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“Turning Point: Contemporary Art In China Since 2000” at Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum

More than 50 Chinese artists review 16 years of China’s art history.

Launched at Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum on 24 July 2016, the exhibition explores the output of China’s art scene in the new millennium. Art Radar has a look at some highlights in the show.

Cao Fei, 'Whose Utopia', 2006, (video still) single channel video, 20m:00s. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Cao Fei, ‘Whose Utopia’, 2006, (video still) single channel video, 20m:00s. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

When the Minsheng Art Museum opened in Shanghai in April 2010, the first exhibition was a 30-year survey of Chinese paintings from 1979 to 2009. In common with that inaugural show the current exhibition “Turning Point: Contemporary Art In China Since 2000”, running until 4 September 2016, presents an account, through the work of more than 50 Chinese artists, of “the momentum of the time”. But this is neither a survey nor a sequential chronology. Professor Yi Ying, a renowned art historian and critic, and currently professor and doctoral tutor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, organised (or curated) the show as ‘Academic Moderator’, as the Museum calls his role.

He Xiangyu, 'Everything We Create is Not Ourselves 90-1', 2016, pencil, acid-free oil-based marker, watercolour, Japanese ink on paper, 20 x 25 cm x 90. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

He Xiangyu, ‘Everything We Create is Not Ourselves 90-1’, 2016, pencil, acid-free oil-based marker, watercolour, Japanese ink on paper, 20 x 25 cm x 90. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

The exhibition leaflet asserts that the show will offer an “alternative perspective to review, reinterpret and reflect upon the development of Chinese contemporary art […]”. Indeed the majority of works date from the last few years, so they present the outcome of the period rather than its passing vacillations.

Liu Wei, 'Jungle No.4', 2012, canvas, wood, 165 x 240 x 30 cm. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Liu Wei, ‘Jungle No.4’, 2012, canvas, wood, 165 x 240 x 30 cm. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

"Turning Point: Contemporary Art In China Since 2000", 24 July - 4 September 2016, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, exhibition installation view. Foreground left, Tan Tian, 'Feel Better after Throw up No.4', 2013, and background, Zhang Ding, 'Enter the Dragon', 2015. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

“Turning Point: Contemporary Art In China Since 2000”, 24 July – 4 September 2016, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, exhibition installation view. Foreground left, Tan Tian, ‘Feel Better after Throw up No.4’, 2013, and background, Zhang Ding, ‘Enter the Dragon’, 2015. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

Minsheng Art Museum is an ideal situation to experience this work. The Museum has not absolutely embraced a pristine white cube environment, and this prevents the work from feeling historical. The space is dotted with small faults, in the form of worn and encrusted surfaces; some recording the regime of making the space over to new exhibitions, and others, old protrusions remaining from the galleries conversion from previous industrial use, part of the Shanghai No. 10 Steel factory complex. The environment gives the works, even those using the latest digital media, a humane quality.

"Turning Point: Contemporary Art In China Since 2000", 24 July - 4 September 2016, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, exhibition installation view. Foreground left, Wu Chao, 'Consciousness × Mo—«Awakening Vegetative Patiients via Artistic Audio-visual Stimulation Project»', 2014-16, and background right, Yang Jian, 'Poem Published as a Spam Message', 2014. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

“Turning Point: Contemporary Art In China Since 2000”, 24 July – 4 September 2016, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, exhibition installation view. Foreground left, Wu Chao, ‘Consciousness × Mo—«Awakening Vegetative Patiients via Artistic Audio-visual Stimulation Project»’, 2014-16, and background right, Yang Jian, ‘Poem Published as a Spam Message’, 2014. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

XuZhen (Produced by MadeIn Company), '"Victory" Artworks' set, 2016, installation, 300 x 400 x 96 cm. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

XuZhen (Produced by MadeIn Company), ‘”Victory” Artworks’ set, 2016, installation, 300 x 400 x 96 cm. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Describing the show for Frieze Gary Zhexi Zhang singles out for mention Xu Zhen’s large assemblage entitled “Victory” Artworks Set (2016). He describes it as:

a mockingly large gift box furnished with an augmented Classical statue, a series of art-historical fitness exercises, and stylish set of swerving PVC tubes painted with vibrant marble gradients.

Indeed it is a brazen and grandiloquent introduction to the show, but it stands aloof from the predominant feel of most works. These eschew the bravura that may be associated with the art from the closing two decades of the 20th century – typified by the sculpture of American artist Jeff Koons on show now at fellow 1980s British artist Damien Hirst’s own art space Newport Street Gallery in London.

Leng Guangmin, 'Cutting an Ellipse', 2016. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

Leng Guangmin, ‘Cutting an Ellipse’, 2016. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

"Turning Point: Contemporary Art In China Since 2000", 24 July - 4 September 2016, Shanghai Mingsheng Art Museum, exhibition installation view. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

“Turning Point: Contemporary Art In China Since 2000”, 24 July – 4 September 2016, Shanghai Mingsheng Art Museum, exhibition installation view. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Wu Chao, 'Consciousness × Mo—«Awakening Vegetative Patiients via Artistic Audio-visual Stimulation Project»', 2014-16, installation view, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Wu Chao, ‘Consciousness × Mo—«Awakening Vegetative Patiients via Artistic Audio-visual Stimulation Project»’, 2014-16, installation view, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

More typical of the prevailing spirit of the show is Chen Wei’s malfunctioning LED sign entitled Roadside Malevich (2016). Located equidistant from both the entrance and exit of the exhibition, the attention-grabbing device awaits repair. Meanwhile its display flickers with incoherent shapes, inadvertently reminiscent of pioneering revolutionary abstraction. The work shows the dereliction of an everyday street sign, once optimistically installed and now flashing the image of a forgone ideology. The sign provokes an uneasy sense that past fallibilities could be connected to future states.

Cheng Ran, 'Simply Wild', 2014, Super 8mm film transferred to digital video with sound, 6m:53s. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Cheng Ran, ‘Simply Wild’, 2014, Super 8mm film transferred to digital video with sound, 6m:53s. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Li Songsong, 'Map of a Pig's Lymphatic System', 2012, oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Li Songsong, ‘Map of a Pig’s Lymphatic System’, 2012, oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

The last 16 years have been a comparatively settled period in Chinese history relative to most 16-year periods in the 20th century. These artists have enjoyed some stability but also opportunity tainted with compromise. The spatial arrangement of the show groups the art works in configurations that build a compelling but open-ended account of the contemporary, not one, but many ‘Turning Points’.

Gao Lei, 'L—01, 2013, IKEA tables, faucet, fur collar, socket, police baton, 60 x 128 cm x 2 (diptych). Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Gao Lei, ‘L—01, 2013, IKEA tables, faucet, fur collar, socket, police baton, 60 x 128 cm x 2 (diptych). Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

"Turning Point: Contemporary Art In China Since 2000", 24 July - 4 September 2016, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, exhibition installation view. Foreground left, Yan Bing, 'Love', 2016; background right, Yang Mushi, 'Eroding', 2016; centre left to right, Tang Dixin, 'Torment', 2014 and 'Confinement', 2014. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

“Turning Point: Contemporary Art In China Since 2000”, 24 July – 4 September 2016, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, exhibition installation view. Foreground left, Yan Bing, ‘Love’, 2016; background right, Yang Mushi, ‘Eroding’, 2016; centre left to right, Tang Dixin, ‘Torment’, 2014 and ‘Confinement’, 2014. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

Divergent perspectives on ecology are evoked by juxtapositions, such as between Yang Mushi’s high column of polystyrene, rendered coal-like by the solvent action of black spray paint, entitled Eroding (2016), and Yan Bing’s Love (2016), an Arte Poveralike sculptural arrangement of soil, iron and wheat.

Wang Zi, 'Forget-me-not', 2015, installation view, wooden stools, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Wang Zi, ‘Forget-me-not’, 2015, installation view, wooden stools, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Entitled Forget-me-not (2015), Wang Zi’s installation uses a collection of small chairs, usually deployed in Chinese cities for eating and resting by the roadside, inverted and suspended, and each fitted with a mechanical musical box activated through a pull cord. These works and others suggest ‘bare life’, as contrasted to sovereign power by influential Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben.

Wang Gi, 'Forget-me-not', 2015, installation view. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

Wang Gi, ‘Forget-me-not’, 2015, installation view. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

In this state of raw existence there is no “difference between being and acting”. Many works communicate the substance of actions, culminating in the final room of the show with, Gems (2013) by Liu Xinyi, a spectral collection of soft drinks in unlabelled bottles, arranged in ranks on shelves. Despite their temporary status as strongly coloured art they wait for their actual use in the act of drinking.

Liu Xinyi, 'Gems', 2013, stainless steel frames, soft drinks & fruit juice beverage, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Liu Xinyi, ‘Gems’, 2013, stainless steel frames, soft drinks & fruit juice beverage, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Lin Ke, 'Engineer', 2015, (video still), video, 3m:17s. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Lin Ke, ‘Engineer’, 2015, (video still), video, 3m:17s. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Artists such as Cai Guo Qiang, Xu Bing and Huang Yong Ping of the previous generation concerned themselves with big subjects, such as fire, language or faith, but this generation avoids universalities in favour of speculation and fragile gestures. This group are not sanguine regarding globalisation or the Internet. The aspiration towards a unified international future is now accompanied by sectarian conflicts and the affirmation of territories. For this reason the artists oppose the virtuoso spectacle of corporate international art with a gentle creativity in harmony with everyday living.

Yang Fudong, 'City Light', 2000, (video still) single channel video, colour, sound, 6m:00s. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Yang Fudong, ‘City Light’, 2000, (video still) single channel video, colour, sound, 6m:00s. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Li Ming, 'Nothing Happened Today No.2', 2012, (detail). Photo: Andrew Stooke.

Li Ming, ‘Nothing Happened Today No.2’, 2012, (detail). Photo: Andrew Stooke.

This everyday is humorously explored in several works, such as Li Ming’s four-channel video Nothing Happened Today No.2 (2012). The work’s title is featured in different casual scenarios. Considerable effort is expended, such as launching an airship with the words as its flanks, but the projects are profoundly aimless and inane. Similarly Ji Lei’s painting Place of Games—Flying Birds (2010) shows figures on a kursaal, a recreational device where a sensation of danger can be felt in a secure small scale environment.

Tao Hui, '1 Character & 7 Materials', 2015, sound & video installation, 11'48" 1 Character (Chinese version 13'55'', English version 17'43''); 7 Materials 11'48". Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Tao Hui, ‘1 Character & 7 Materials’, 2015, sound & video installation, 11’48” 1 Character (Chinese version 13’55”, English version 17’43”); 7 Materials 11’48”. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Li Binuan, 'Long Jump', 2013. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

Li Binuan, ‘Long Jump’, 2013. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

In common with these examples, other works have an elliptical futility involving ordinary people and everyday places. For Long Jump (2013), a document of a performance, artist Li Bintan says:

“Between the cement road blocks at each side of the road I will exert all my strength to jump across every vehicle that passes trough the street.”

Li Binyuan, 'Freedom Farming', 2014, (video still) single channel video, 5m:00s. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Li Binyuan, ‘Freedom Farming’, 2014, (video still) single channel video, 5m:00s. Image courtesy the artist and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai.

Yang Zhenzhong, 'Straight Line', 2012. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

Yang Zhenzhong, ‘Straight Line’, 2012. Photo: Andrew Stooke.

In Yang Zhenzhong’s video Straight Line (2012) an elderly person advances, balancing on a curb, from the extreme distance, moving slowly towards the camera. Eventually he passes the camera and the sequence resets. Slightly pointless but poignant too, the work suspends a single question through the entire static seven minute take­, a question that resonates in many of the works collected in the exhibition:

“what happens now?”

Andrew Stooke

1261

Related Topics: Chinese artists, installation, site-specific, video, museum exhibitions, events in Shanghai

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Understand, Utilise, Uplift: 3 Southeast Asian Artists presented by Silverlens x ROH Projects, Jakarta

3 Southeast Asian artists stretch the possibilities of their materials and concepts.

Art Radar profiles three internationally-recognised Southeast Asian artists presented in an exhibition curated by Filipino artist Gary-Ross Pastrana in Jakarta. The works on show demonstrate a thorough understanding and exploration of materials, which has resulted in unconventional and cross-cultural forms.

Partial exhibition view of Silverlens Galleries and ROH Projects’ exhibition in Equity Tower 40E Jakarta (Indonesia). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Partial exhibition view of Silverlens Galleries and ROH Projects’ exhibition in Equity Tower 40E Jakarta (Indonesia). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Known to expand notions of contemporary art by representing established and emerging talents, Silverlens Galleries and ROH Projects have recently launched a group show at the Equity Tower 40E Jakarta (Indonesia) that includes the work of Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, Patricia Perez Eustaquio and Maria Taniguchi. On view until 28 August 2016, this collaborative exhibition does more than illustrate the similarities and contrasts that exist in Indonesian and Philippine contemporary art. More than anything, it rouses viewers by putting forward what other forms could result from familiar (if not, cliché) materials such as graphite, resin, acrylics and video clips, among others.

To further explore the show, Art Radar recently caught up with its curator, Gary-Ross Pastrana. A Silverlens Galleries represented artist himself, he puts into words what strikes him most about the three featured artists:

For Maria, it would be her unquestionably clear and specific understanding of modernism and (the reductive aspect of) abstraction. For Patricia, [it’s] her willingness to experiment and ability to articulate in any medium. Additionally, they are two of the smartest, most determined, and self-aware artists I know. For Arin, I was really interested in his method of extending, expanding the idea painting – how even a video projection could be seen as another layer, like a final glaze in the process of painting.

Like Maria Taniguchi’s paintings and the exhibition itself, the wall text, by being blackened, was stripped of its identity, making it almost untitled. By doing so, the exhibit invites countless meanings instead of imposing just one. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Like Maria Taniguchi’s paintings and the exhibition itself, the wall text, by being blackened, was stripped of its identity, making it almost untitled. By doing so, the exhibit invites countless meanings instead of imposing just one. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Asked if these were the same aspects that he wanted to highlight in the exhibition, the curator explains:

I wanted to hint on these aspects, but I was also careful not to impose any overarching theme that the artists would suddenly need to comply with. This may not seem to be the normal curatorial strategy but in the end I am still, primarily, an artist and I relate and identify with them as my peers – fellow artists, whom I trust and respect dearly. And so, while I had some works in mind and was in contact with them in the run-up to the show, I still allowed them to have the final say as to which ones would actually be part of the exhibition. In the end, I think it worked out well and actually, pretty close to what I originally had in mind.

Consisting of works on paper, paintings, a sculpture, mixed media and video pieces, the works in this Silverlens Galleries x ROH Projects show are perhaps best linked together by the artists’ dedication to their materials, approaches and concepts. Born in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a time when their countries were subject to military dictatorship – Suharto in Indonesia and Marcos in the Philippines – Sunaryo, Eustaquio and Taniguchi individually and collectively show that non-representational art can depict personal journeys, socio-political concerns and key issues in contemporary art.

Sunaryo, ‘Ashfall Video #2,’ 2016, volcanic ash, clear resin and video projection, 300 x 280 x 35 cm (diptych). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Sunaryo, ‘Ashfall Video #2,’ 2016, volcanic ash, clear resin and video projection, 300 x 280 x 35 cm (diptych). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

1. Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo

Residing in Bandung, the ‘Paris of Java’, Indonesia, Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo (b.1978) is known for challenging the vocabulary of painting by integrating materials such as volcanic ash, photographic images and resin with pigments. After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Painting from Bandung Institute of Technology in 2001, the Indonesian artist furthered his studies abroad and received a Master’s Degree in Fine Art from London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2005.

Tired of art depicting his home country’s political failures, Sunaryo chose non-Indonesian content, such as science fiction and Japanese manga, to fuel his art, resulting in unplanned abstract compositions that question the boundaries of painting and Indonesian identity. The son of celebrated painter Sunaryo Soetono, Sunaryo once tried to learn traditional Indonesian crafts, but decided to dedicate his practice to the utilisation of resin’s preservative and gestural qualities in two and three dimensional art.

Sunaryo, ‘Lagedu,’ 2016, pigmented resin, volcanic ash and digital print on wooden panel, 358 x 120 x 5 cm (diptych). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Sunaryo, ‘Lagedu,’ 2016, pigmented resin, volcanic ash and digital print on wooden panel, 358 x 120 x 5 cm (diptych). Image courtesy ROH Projects.

The Indonesian artist’s experimental works have been exhibited in Europe, North America, notably in New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and across Southeast Asia. In 2015, Prudential Eye Awards nominated him as a finalist for Best Emerging Artist Using Painting. The ROH Projects-represented artist’s mastery of resin and venture into sculpture, video and new media are shown in this collaborative exhibition.

Eustaquio, ‘Untitled,’ 2016, silk, 200 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

Eustaquio, ‘Untitled,’ 2016, silk, 200 x 136 cm. Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

2. Patricia Perez Eustaquio

Based in Manila, Patricia Perez Eustaquio (b. 1977) is recognised for marrying conceptual art with crafts and various disciplines, resulting in pieces that merge multiple art forms and fields. Her all-inclusive yet scrupulous practice has merited her several prestigious awards, including the 13 Artists Award from the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Ateneo Art Award from the Ateneo University Manila, as well as residencies in Art Omi, New York and Stichting Id11, the Netherlands.

Having consistently put out unanticipated forms that challenge notions about art and its directions, Eustaquio’s work is no stranger to galleries outside the Philippines. She has had solo shows in New York and Taipei, and has participated in notable group exhibitions in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia. One of her site-specific installations is currently on view at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris until 11 September 2016. In addition, Eustaquio will be part of the Singapore Biennale, which will run from October 2016 to February 2017.

Eustaquio, ‘Let Us Build A Mountain I,’ 2016, graphite on paper (acid-free Hahnemühle), 110 x 120 cm. Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

Eustaquio, ‘Let Us Build A Mountain I,’ 2016, graphite on paper (acid-free Hahnemühle), 110 x 120 cm. Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

A Painting graduate of the University of the Philippines, Eustaquio’s work also extends to the fields of fashion, film and theatre. She won the Gawad Urian Award for Best in Production Design for Lav Diaz’s Ebolusyon Ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino in 2005.

Eustaquio’s graphite works on paper, which make use of leftovers from her past creative practice that are assembled, photographed and eventually translated to drawings, are featured in this Silverlens Galleries and ROH Projects group exhibition.

Installation view of Taniguchi’s 'Untitled brick paintings', 2016, acrylic on canvas, 228.6 x 114.3 cm each. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Installation view of Taniguchi’s ‘Untitled brick paintings’, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 228.6 x 114.3 cm each. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

3. Maria Taniguchi

Last year’s winner of the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award for Emerging Asian Artists, Maria Taniguchi (b. 1981) was surrounded by sculptors growing up, but chose in her own work to mix sculpture with other art forms. Born and raised in Dumaguete, a major port city in the Philippines, she studied Sculpture at the University of the Philippines, and like the Indonesian artist Sunaryo, went to London to pursue further studies in art. In 2009, she earned an MFA in Art Practice at Goldsmiths, and today, her oeuvre is composed of sculpture, video, printmaking and painting.

 Taniguchi, ‘I See, It Feels,’ 2015, single-channel HD video, 07m:30s (no sound, 5th Edition). Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

Taniguchi, ‘I See, It Feels,’ 2015, single-channel HD video, 07m:30s (no sound, 5th Edition). Image courtesy Silverlens Galleries.

Taniguchi is commonly associated with very large black paintings of bricks, an ongoing series that she began in 2008. Here, the Filipino artist has brought it upon herself to cover towering canvases with tiny bricks, which she carefully paints one by one in black acrylic. Repetitive and laboursome, this series is said to comment on urban organisation and growth, while functioning as a regulator for her art and thinking process. Other awards that she has received are the 2011 and 2012 Ateneo Art Awards for two of her Manila-based solo exhibitions.

In this group show, Silverlens Galleries gives the public in Jakarta the opportunity to see two pieces from Taniguchi’s series of brick paintings, as well as an example of her video art. Prior to Jakarta, she has exhibited in London, Hong Kong, Karlsruhe, Milan and Los Angeles this year alone.

Sunaryo, ‘Scrap (Lagedu),’ 2016, pigmented resin on steel base, 48 x 57.5 x 48 x 144 cm. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Sunaryo, ‘Scrap (Lagedu),’ 2016, pigmented resin on steel base, 48 x 57.5 x 48 x 144 cm. Image courtesy ROH Projects.

Barrier-breaking Collaborations

When asked what insights about Southeast Asian contemporary art and contemporary art in general would he like viewers to take away from this exhibition, the curator pointed out:

One possible take away is that, maybe, Southeast Asian contemporary art is contemporary art. If we examine the artists’ CVs, we would see that they have shown in contemporary art institutions everywhere from Berlin to New York, from Tokyo to London. I believe they present their works without prejudice to the setting, and so perhaps we can also forego the local, regional and international distinction.

But in general, I would love for the audience to see this as a beginning of a sustained dialogue between the two countries. We’ve already started talking about possible projects next year, which is quite exciting. Hopefully, we can bring some of ROH artists for a show at Silverlens as well very soon. I see this as a welcome opportunity to learn more about each other, as we are so close, geographically, and in my experience, physically indistinguishable.

Javelyn Ramos

1264

Related Topics: Southeast Asian artists, Indonesian artists, Filipino artists, painting, sculpture, video, gallery shows, events in Jakarta

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