A Matter of Perspective: 15 years of Singapore’s STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery – director interview

Art Radar speaks to the director of STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery in Singapore on the occasion of the art space’s 15th anniversary.

While celebrating its 15th anniversary, STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery has mounted a special exhibition of David Hockney’s works on paper, entitled “A Matter of Perspective”. Art Radar spoke with the director of the art space Emi Eu about the exhibition, the organisation’s development and the local art scene.

STPI Annual Special Exhibition | "David Hockney: A Matter of Perspective", 1 July - 9 September 2017, STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery. © STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.

STPI Annual Special Exhibition | “David Hockney: A Matter of Perspective”, 1 July – 9 September 2017, STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery. © STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.

Part of Singapore’s national Visual Arts Cluster of regional leading institutions alongside National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Art Museum, STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery was founded in 2002 and is celebrating 15 years in 2017. STPI is a dynamic creative workshop and contemporary art gallery, committed to the promotion of artistic experimentation in the medium of print and paper.

The art organisation holds exhibitions of emerging as well as established and leading artists from the region and beyond. In 2017, STPI has planned an ambitious programme, and will hold shows of some of the most important names in contemporary art, including Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan (Philippines), Aaron Curry (USA), Dinh Q. Lê (Vietnam), Jason Martin (UK), Philippe Parreno (France), Do Ho Suh (South Korea) and Pae White (USA).

Expanding the public programme, STPI has also been holding the ‘In Talks With’ series, a year-long series of symposia aiming to engage the public with the most influential figures in art, culminating in the ‘STPI Festival’ week in August 2017 as well as STPI Anniversary Dinner and Benefit Auction in September 2017. Additionally, for STPI’s major community initiative, OUR HOMES Project, local artist Ong Kim Seng produces an original artwork to be translated into 300 editions, all individually hand-signed and numbered by the artist. STPI will gift these prints to Singaporeans receiving keys to their homes this August.

David Hockney, 'Afternoon Swimming', 1980, lithograph, Edition of 55, 100.7 x 80.5 cm. © David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt.

David Hockney, ‘Afternoon Swimming’, 1980, lithograph, Edition of 55, 100.7 x 80.5 cm. © David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt.

David Hockney is known for his portraits and landscapes, and is also recognised for his refusal to be categorised under any particular medium or style. Over a six-decade long career, the British contemporary master experimented with various media and materials, as well as technological developments like sketching with iPads.

“A Matter of Perspective” reveals how Hockney’s work looks at two fundamental questions:

“How do we see? How do we depict?”

David Hockney, 'Walking Past Two Chairs', 1986, lithograph, screenprint, handpainted frame, 116.5 x 71.7 cm. © David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd., Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

David Hockney, ‘Walking Past Two Chairs’, 1986, lithograph, screenprint, handpainted frame, 116.5 x 71.7 cm. © David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd., Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

The artist employs multiple perspectives and points of view, escaping from the usual vanishing point of two-dimensional artworks, believing that “the human eye is more fluid and dynamic than a single point of view”. With this multiplicity of perspectives, Hockney is able to draw the viewer into the work and make her part of it.

Hockney believes that

We do not look at the world from a distance; we are in it, and that’s how we feel.

Art Radar spoke to STPI’s Director Emi Eu about STPI’s 15 years of operations, the current exhibition, and the art scene in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

STPI Annual Special Exhibition | "David Hockney: A Matter of Perspective", 1 July - 9 September 2017, STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery. © STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.

STPI Annual Special Exhibition | “David Hockney: A Matter of Perspective”, 1 July – 9 September 2017, STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery. © STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.

STPI is celebrating its 15th year in 2017. Could you tell me a bit about how it came into being and what was its aim?

STPI was founded by the then-Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA), predecessor to MCCY (Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth). It was formed in line with the Singapore government’s Renaissance City Plan to position the nation as the prime arts hub of Southeast Asia. It was meant to carry on the boundary-pushing legacy of master printmaker Kenneth E. Tyler, who heralded the resurgence of print as an artistic medium in 20th century New York through collaborations with artists such as Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella.

David Hockney, 'Hotel Acatlan: Two Weeks Later', 1985, lithograph, 73 x 188 cm. © David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt.

David Hockney, ‘Hotel Acatlan: Two Weeks Later’, 1985, lithograph, 73 x 188 cm. © David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt.

Looking in retrospect, what are the greatest strengths and developments of STPI today and what is its significance in the Singaporean art scene, and perhaps, in the Southeast Asian region?

The Gallery operates on an extremely full and tight schedule with 7 – 8 exhibitions per year, which is a lot more than the usual number of shows any gallery puts forward. STPI as a whole avoids compromising artistic integrity in everything we do and we give our best to support artists in every way.

STPI was intended to be a catalyst in the contemporary art scene and it definitely played a big part in getting this whole art ecosystem moving. While we single-handedly created a market for mid-range priced works on paper, we also opened up other possibilities for artists in SEA who have not had this type of experience. We also helped establish a much stronger sector for the art services from framing to conservation and art handling services.

The vision for STPI was to develop Singapore as a leading player in the international contemporary art world, as well as strengthen and deepen the artistic achievements of artists both internationally and locally. This vision has not changed since the beginning. But now, having been around for 15 years, we are looking to work more closely with arts organisations and other galleries from the region to really help make Singapore the focal point for SEA art. We also continue to work closely with artists from the region and around the world who are a reflection of their time. Whenever these artists come into Singapore, there’s a cross-pollination of ideas.

STPI Annual Special Exhibition | "David Hockney: A Matter of Perspective", 1 July - 9 September 2017, STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery. © STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.

STPI Annual Special Exhibition | “David Hockney: A Matter of Perspective”, 1 July – 9 September 2017, STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery. © STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.

What is STPI organising this year to celebrate its 15 years?

We opened the year with Amanda Heng, as well as had an external show in London, which was a project with Do Ho Suh. We had a huge group exhibition in March by international artists Carsten Höller, Tobias Rehberger, Anri Sala and Rirkrit Tiravanija. In May, we held the first solo exhibition in Singapore of Korean artist Kim Beom, and now, we just opened our Annual Special Exhibition featuring David Hockney.

We will be having the STPI Festival as a one-week celebration in August, where we will open our premises to the public to have fun with print and papermaking and know more about this niche industry.

Also, to celebrate 15 years with Singapore, we are launching Art in Our HOMES on 27 August, a collaboration with Cultural Medallion recipient Ong Kim Seng, the One Dream initiative, as well as grassroots leaders from the Jurong GRC, to present 300 unique prints to the residents of Jurong Spring, Clementi and Bukit Batok. This is part of our dream to bring art to every household in Singapore.

David Hockney, 'An Image of Celia', 1984, lithograph, screenprint,collage, hand-painted frame, 121.5 x 169.2 cm. © David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt.

David Hockney, ‘An Image of Celia’, 1984, lithograph, screenprint,collage, hand-painted frame, 121.5 x 169.2 cm. © David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt.

What are the plans for the future of STPI and its further development and expansion?

We have a lot of artists on our wish list and it’s only the beginning of our work. So we are going to continue to develop a good programme and provide artists with the opportunity to make interesting and innovative works. There are infinite collaboration possibilities so we are excited to fully explore them and show the results to the public.

The current exhibition of David Hockney is one in a series of shows dedicated to influential, international artists. Could you tell us a bit more about this show and why it is significant to present his work now in Singapore?

The show is part of our Annual Special Exhibition segment in our calendar that seeks to present works in print and paper created by significant figures in art history to local audiences. Hockney is such an exceptional figure when it comes to challenging his own boundaries as an artist, and with major institutional retrospectives this year (National Gallery Victoria, Tate Britain, recently at Centre Pompidou and Metropolitan Museum of Art in November), we felt there was no better time to show his works from the Singapore Art Museum collection as part of that wider dialogue, and offer the perspective of him as a printmaker. His inventiveness and zeal is something that resonates with the spirit of what we do at STPI, so it’s fitting to present him this time – on the occasion of our 15th year anniversary as well.

David Hockney, '4 Blue Stools', 2014, photographic drawing printed on paper, mounted on Dibond 108 x 176.5 cm. Edition of 25 © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt.

David Hockney, ‘4 Blue Stools’, 2014, photographic drawing printed on paper, mounted on Dibond, 108 x 176.5 cm, Edition of 25. © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt.

Which other big international artists have you shown before as part of this programme of special exhibitions?

Past STPI Annual Special exhibitions have included artists Henri Matisse, Picasso and Zao Wouki.

Could you tell us more about the importance of mounting such exhibitions in Singapore and what it means for the public there?

It is important if we want to create a culture and appreciation for the arts that wasn’t present before in Singapore. That’s the trajectory we’re heading for – greater exposure and understanding, greater appreciation. And there’s nothing to lose since all sorts of art is an expression and reflection of the human condition, and every artist brings to light fresh perspectives of the world – its problems and its joys. It sparks discussion and inspires us to look at things a little differently – which is what we need from time to time.

STPI Annual Special Exhibition | "David Hockney: A Matter of Perspective", 1 July - 9 September 2017, STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery. © STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.

STPI Annual Special Exhibition | “David Hockney: A Matter of Perspective”, 1 July – 9 September 2017, STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery. © STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore.

Lastly, what do you think about the art scene in Singapore and its development to this day, and what do you envisage for its future?

Singapore’s art scene has made a tremendous leap and I’m sure there will be more things to come. The arts ecosystem in Singapore and Southeast Asia is starting to take its place, with a litany of public museums, galleries, events and fairs. Southeast Asia is really coming together to build a good ecosystem; Singapore especially has established itself to be a cornerstone with solid infrastructure. For example, we have the National Gallery, the Singapore Biennale, and Art Stage Singapore, etc. I envision Singapore to be the anchor of contemporary art in the region and many are working towards that.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

1766

Related Topics: British artists, works on paper, printmaking, gallery shows, events in Singapore, art spaces, interviews

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What is… printmaking? Art Radar explains (part 1)

Art Radar explores the evolution of printmaking as an art form, with a special insight into its practice in Asia.

This article is the first in a two-part series about the history, techniques and styles of printmaking, and its place in the contemporary art world of Asia. Art Radar examines how new techniques and developments in technology have continuously reinvented the medium.  

Naiza Khan, 'The Land was Once Free', 2015, etching on Somerset paper, 57 x 76 cm, edition 4 of 18. Image courtesy the artist and Rossi and Rossi.

Naiza Khan, ‘The Land was Once Free’, 2015, etching on Somerset paper, 57 x 76 cm, edition 4 of 18. Image courtesy the artist and Rossi and Rossi.

This article was written by a participant in our art writing diploma programme. Do you want to write for Art Radar too? Click here to find out more about our Diploma in Art Journalism & Writing.

 

The history of printmaking as a fine art is closely associated with the origin and development of printing – its forerunner. Over the past 500 years, a variety of prints has been produced on a vast range of subjects using traditional printing techniques such as wood-engraving, line-engraving, etching, mezzotint and lithography. These prints, as observed by art historians Pheroza Godrej and Pauline Rohatgi in Scenic Splendours, have formed

a major link between artists and their audience, since, by definition, a print is essentially a pictorial image, produced by a process that enables it to be multiplied.

When did printmaking originate… and where?

Some of these duplicated images go back centuries – much before the advent of modern-day printing, which originated in Europe with the production of the first printed book by Johann Gutenberg in 1454 CE. The images include prehistoric engravings, ancient Sumerian cylinder seals and rudimentary woodblock printing used for Buddhist talismans in medieval China and Japan. The earliest printed illustration (dated 868 CE) is a skillfully designed Buddhist scroll of the Diamond Sutra discovered in Dunhuang, China.

While printing on paper started in Europe in the 12th century, it was the introduction of the movable type and the printing of the first books in the early 16th century that had a decisive impact on the history of art.

Katsushika Hokusai, 'Under the Wave Off Kanagawa', 1831-34, colour woodblock print, 26 x 37.7 cm. Image courtesy the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Katsushika Hokusai, ‘Under the Wave Off Kanagawa’, 1831-34, colour woodblock print, 26 x 37.7 cm. Image courtesy the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

In the 15th century, artists used two different printmaking techniques – relief and intaglio. Japanese artists mastered the art of woodcuts, a type of relief printing, in the ukiyo-e of the 18th and 19th centuries. Until the development of lithography in the 19th century, artists used different incision processes such as drypoint, engraving and etching, as well as mezzotint and aquatint to introduce colours and tones to their prints.

Albrecht Dürer, Giorgio Vasari and Andrea Mantegna were prolific engravers in 15th and 16th century Europe, with the subject matter of their prints ranging from religion and history to mythology and folklore. Painters and innovative printers of the 17th and 18th centuries who used etching as their medium included:

  • Rembrandt van Rijn
  • Francisco Goya
  • Stefano della Bella
  • Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Lithography was another printmaking style that allowed artists to introduce colour into their prints and oil-based inks, making it easier to create multiple images from a drawing.

Agung Prabowo, 'Nircenggami (Tidak Takut dan Kuatir) (No Fear and Worry)', 2013, reduction linocut on handmade paper, 91 x 81 cm. Image courtesy the artist and ART|JOG 2014.

Agung Prabowo, ‘Nircenggami (Tidak Takut dan Kuatir) (No Fear and Worry)’, 2013, reduction linocut on handmade paper, 91 x 81 cm. Image courtesy the artist and ART|JOG 2014.

Printmaking as a fine art

The late 19th-century Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Art Nouveau artists like Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin and Alphonse Mucha were hugely influenced by Japonisme and drawn to lithography. With the development of more affordable printmaking processes like linocuts, a more public role for prints began to evolve in the 20th century.

As the art world ushered in Modernism, new printmaking styles were developed by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and artists of the German Expressionist movement and the Bauhaus School at Weimar. Abstract Expressionists like Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock were also attracted to printmaking in the 1950s due to the expressive potential of the medium.

Print studios and workshops such as Universal Limited Art Editions in the US and Kelpra Studio in the UK encouraged artists like Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol to use printmaking to produce path-breaking works which were bold, creative statements. By the 1970s, printmaking was considered at par with sculpture and painting as a primary means of expression and a fine art in its own right.

Printmaking has developed in many new directions, and digital technology has brought greater affordability and higher visibility to the medium. While digital printing, with its high resolution and permanent inks, has blurred the lines between photography and printmaking, it has also made the art more accessible and available on demand.

Ammarain Kuntawong, ‘Bush town’, 2014, etching, 70 x 100 cm, in “Interchange: A Printmaking Dialogue between Australia and Thailand”, at Mosman Art Gallery (Sydney, Australia). Image courtesy Mosman Art Gallery.

Ammarain Kuntawong, ‘Bush town’, 2014, etching, 70 x 100 cm, in “Interchange: A Printmaking Dialogue between Australia and Thailand”, at Mosman Art Gallery (Sydney, Australia). Image courtesy Mosman Art Gallery.

Printmaking in Asia today

Contemporary artists in Asia have inherited a long and historically significant legacy of printmaking. Chinese and Japanese artists transformed the medium into an art form with the woodblock and ukiyo-e paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries, thereby having a significant impact on the contemporary art aesthetics and printing techniques of South and Southeast Asian countries.

As printing was included into the curriculum of art institutions and academies across Asia, it enabled artists to study both ‘art’ and ‘applied art’, making them well-rounded professionals and accomplished practitioners. Some of the institutes that mushroomed across Asia at the turn of the 20th century responsible for building awareness about the medium include:

  • The Garhi Printmaking Studio established in 1976, The Indian Printmakers’ Guild and Chaap established in the 1990s were all promoted by leading contemporary printmakers of India to provide infrastructure and training to aspiring artists.
  • The Hong Kong Open Printshop founded in 2000 is a non-profit organisation run by artists to promote the visual arts with an emphasis on image making.
  • The China Printmaking Museum, which opened in Shenzhen in 2014, is the first of its kind in China, and the largest in the world. The museum offers a new platform for exhibitions of the art form, academic exchanges and art education seminars.
Zarina Hashmi, ‘Travels with Rani,’ 2008, diptych, intaglio on Arches cover buff paper and woodcut on Okawara paper mounted on Arches buff paper, edition of 25, image size: 14 1/2 x 13 in. (36.8 x 33 cm), sheet size: 24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm). © 2008, Zarina Hashmi; Image courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.

Zarina Hashmi, ‘Travels with Rani,’ 2008, diptych, intaglio on Arches cover buff paper and woodcut on Okawara paper mounted on Arches buff paper, edition of 25, image size: 14 1/2 x 13 in. (36.8 x 33 cm), sheet size: 24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm). © 2008, Zarina Hashmi; Image courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.

A new Asian aesthetic?

Modern-day painter printmakers from Asia have the exceptional ability to blend Eastern imagery and Western technique, as a result of which a new aesthetic has evolved in the contemporary printmaking art world of 21st century Asia.

Some of the most prominent of these artists include:

  • Liao Shiou-ping (Taiwan) – uses Western techniques of colour and composition and traditional Taiwanese aesthetics, creating a uniquely Eastern printmaking genre.
  • Kalal Laxma Goud (India) – known for the originality and quality of his etchings and aquatints.
  • Anupam Sud (India) – one of India’s foremost printmaking artists who was a founding member of ‘Group 8’, an association of artists dedicated to furthering awareness of the medium.
  • Yuan Qinglu (China) – widely exhibited and collected contemporary artist; has won several awards and is also a teacher of the art form.
  • Yuji Hiratsuka (Japan) – Hiratsuka’s graphic works are a synthesis of Japanese ukiyo-e traditions and Western aesthetics.
  • Cheung Chung-chu (China) – a calligrapher and printmaker, and one of the founding members of the Hong Kong Open Printshop.
  • Zhang Guanghui (China) – employs a unique woodblock printing process that blends academic and traditional methods with modern sensibilitie.
  • Kamin Lertchaiprasert (Thailand) – his Buddhist beliefs of having a greater understanding of oneself, nature and the world is reflected in his work.
  • Sulaiman Esa (Malaysia) – inspired by his Malay-Islamic aesthetic tradition to foster the development of contemporary Islamic art.
  • Rashwan Abdelbaki (Syria) – multimedia printmaking artist who tries to depict order and unity in his works to escape from the conflict and chaos of the region.
  • Fatima Al Budoor (Dubai) – Fatima’s work is based in printmaking, drawing and photography, and it focuses on her experiences in life and relationships.
Sun Xun, ‘Some Actions which Haven’t been Defined Yet in the Revolution’, 2011, single-channel woodcut animation still, 12m:22s. Image courtesy the artist and Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum.

Sun Xun, ‘Some Actions which Haven’t been Defined Yet in the Revolution’, 2011, single-channel woodcut animation still, 12m:22s. Image courtesy the artist and Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum.

Viewing printmaking

A selection of recent and upcoming exhibitions of the works of printmaking artists’ include:

Elisabeth Cummings 'Flinders Farm', 2009, etching, aquatint, open-bite and scraping, 34 x 54 cm, in “Interchange: A Printmaking Dialogue between Australia and Thailand”, at Mosman Art Gallery (Sydney, Australia). Image courtesy Mosman Art Gallery.

Elisabeth Cummings ‘Flinders Farm’, 2009, etching, aquatint, open-bite and scraping, 34 x 54 cm, in “Interchange: A Printmaking Dialogue between Australia and Thailand”, at Mosman Art Gallery (Sydney, Australia). Image courtesy Mosman Art Gallery.

The future of printmaking

The resilience of printmaking as a viable medium in 21st-century art is proven. The advent of new media and developments in digital technology has not replaced traditional printmaking, instead broadening its scope and widening its horizons.

Amita Kini-Singh

1827

This article was written by a participant in our art writing diploma programme. Do you want to write for Art Radar too? Click here to find out more about our Diploma in Art Journalism & Writing.

Related topics: printmaking, Asian artists, museum shows, biennales, definitions, Art Radar Institute

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“MANILA: Hidden in Plain Sight”: a travelling exhibition at MET Museum Manila

Art Radar has a look at the latest offering at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

“MANILA: Hidden in Plain Sight”, a traveling exhibition of works by 8 contemporary Filipino and Manila-based artists, reveals facets of the city that are ignored, exoticised and forgotten.

“MANILA: Hidden in Plain Sight”, 11 July to 26 August 2017, Metropolitan Museum of Manila. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

“MANILA: Hidden in Plain Sight”, 11 July to 26 August 2017, Metropolitan Museum of Manila. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Before traveling from one academic institution to another, the “MANILA: Hidden in Plain Sight” exhibition is currently anchored at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila (MET Museum), where its collection of Manila-inspired works by eight contemporary artists is joined by pieces from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) art collection.

Put together by the museum’s curatorial team headed by Desi Tolentino and Taiwanese curator Fang-Tze Hsu, this particular stint of the exhibition presents a strong multilayered narrative that tackles the glorious city that was (Manila was once known as the Pearl of the Orient before WWII), the city’s ever-changing and regressing urban landscape of today and the city’s characters, along with the aspects of the Manila retained in their consciousness.

Alwin Reamillo, ‘Alight/Alflight’, undated, mixed media on articulated wood (constructed grand piano lids and objects), 121.92 x 243.84 x 2.54 cm. From the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Alwin Reamillo, ‘Alight/Alflight’, undated, mixed media on articulated wood (constructed grand piano lids and objects), 121.92 x 243.84 x 2.54 cm. From the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

One of the three structures from Tad Ermitaño, 'Gillage: History, Modernity and Conjecture', 2016, video sculpture. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

One of the three structures from Tad Ermitaño, ‘Gillage: History, Modernity and Conjecture’, 2016, video sculpture. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Threading together the entire exhibition collection is a three-piece video sculpture by Tad Ermitaño (b. 1964), which meditates on what urban development and expansion mean for the communities residing in Manila’s periphery. By mounting video channels that portray the life of informal settlers (specifically those from Pandacan) on trolleys made out of scraps (trolleys in Manila also serve as a mode of public transport), Gillage: History, Modernity and Conjecture documents how squatters are quickly able to build, demolish and rebuild physical homes from ramshackle materials over and over again. And while Ermitaño’s work shows images of the increasing disparity between the poor and the wealthy, viewers also realise the admirable traits of resourcefulness and resilience of the community in focus.

Installation view of MM Yu's works: 'In Transit', 2008-2015, video, dimensions variable, and 'Tree Grid', 2011, e-print on wood, 101.6 x 127 cm. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Installation view of MM Yu’s works: ‘In Transit’, 2008-2015, video, dimensions variable, and ‘Tree Grid’, 2011, e-print on wood, 101.6 x 127 cm. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Expounding on the subject of improvised homes is MM Yu (b. 1978), whose series of photographs entitled “In Transit” offers a closer look at the kind of materials informal settlers use for their homes – outdated ads printed on tarps, ragged blankets, huge plastic bags discarded boxes for electronic appliances, etc. While these seem to only fall into two categories, namely housing materials and accumulated trash, Yu through photography brings up that these materials and the structures they form could be seen as installations or public art. Included in the exhibition is the artist’s response to the resourcefulness she has observed. In Tree Grid, which is basically a work of e-print on wood, Yu simultaneously transforms wood and a mundane image of Manila into art.

Closer look at MM Yu, 'In Transit', 2008-2015, video, dimensions variable. Currently displayed in the MET's Galeriya ng BangkoSentral ng Pilipinas. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Closer look at MM Yu, ‘In Transit’, 2008-2015, video, dimensions variable. Currently displayed in the MET’s Galeriya ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Screenshot from CocoyLumbao's 'Index (Elevated Train)', 2007, single channel video. Currently displayed in the MET's White Cube Gallery. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Screenshot from Cocoy Lumbao’s ‘Index (Elevated Train)’, 2007, single channel video. Currently displayed in the MET’s White Cube Gallery. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Aside from the trolley, another mode of transportation that “MANILA: Hidden in Plain Sight” features is the LRT, which allows people in the city to have easy access to government institutions, universities, cultural landmarks and shopping districts. Instead of merely stressing how essential the train is in people’s lives, however, artist Cocoy Lumbao (b. 1977), in his Index (Elevated Train), uses the LRT to take audiences to a future wherein Manila is stripped-off its chaos. Evoking a symmetric optical illusion of city, Lumbao’s piece is calming in the beginning. Later on, however, the perfect symmetry makes one question if Manila would still be Manila without the noise and inconsistency.

Issay Rodriguez, 'Placeholder', 2016, cyanotype and graphite on paper, 60.96 x 77.47 cm. Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

Issay Rodriguez, ‘Placeholder’, 2016, cyanotype and graphite on paper, 60.96 x 77.47 cm. Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

Then, there are the works of Issay Rodriguez (b. 1991) and Leeroy New (b. 1986), which take into account the collective memory behind once highly praised landmarks. For Rodriguez, it is the Capitol Theater, an art deco structure that was built in the 1930s by national artist Arch. Juan Nakpil. Like many of Manila’s stand-alone theaters, this building lost its spark and was forgotten once shopping malls began to house cinema houses. For New, it is the Pasig River, which lost its community value due to massive pollution. Through their art, Rodriguez and New hope to remind viewers about the cultural significance of the Capitol Theater, the river and to hopefully create new memories and secondary purposes for these landmarks.

Installation view of Leeroy New’s collaborative work with urban planner Julia Nebrija known as the 'Bakawan Floating Island Project', 2016. Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

Installation view of Leeroy New’s collaborative work with urban planner Julia Nebrija known as the ‘Bakawan Floating Island Project’, 2016. Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

Installation view of Denise Weldon's photographs from the 1990s, displayed at the MET Museum's Open Gallery. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Installation view of Denise Weldon’s photographs from the 1990s, displayed at the MET Museum’s Open Gallery. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Of course, this exhibition also contemplates the people of Manila. While overly populated, the city has dwellers that standout, which can be seen in Denise Weldon’s (b. 1964) photographs. Moreover, aside from their creativity and resilience, those in Manila are innately optimistic and have a habit of poking fun at day-to-day struggles, which is reflected in the comics of Manix Abrera (b. 1982). Speaking of people, Dina Gadia’s (b. 1986) collages are proof that Manila’s way of thinking blends traditional views and pop culture from foreign lands, which just underscores the many paradoxes that exist within the city.

Dina Gadia, 'Connoisseur of the Bizarre and Usual', 2013, collage, 40 x 47.63 cm. Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

Dina Gadia, ‘Connoisseur of the Bizarre and Usual’, 2013, collage, 40 x 47.63 cm. Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

Regarding the pieces from the BSP collection, which are dated from the 1920s to 2010, these record what Manila looked like in the past and its people’s changing preferences. Collectively, these works underline that the city is ever-morphing in terms of physical structures, communities and mentalities. Works from the BSP collection that are included in the “MANILA: Hidden in Plain Sight” exhibition are by Isidro Ancheta, Antonio Austria, Roberto Balajadia, Pete Bravante, Dominador Castañeda, E. Aguilar Cruz, Antipas Delotavo, Victor C. Diores, Ofelia Gelvezo-Tequi, Romero Jocson, Alfredo Roces, Norberto Roldan, Elaine Navas, Jorge Pineda and Alwin Reamillo.

Norberto Roldan, ‘Quelques Fleur 2’, 2010, assemblage with collage, old sepia photographs, assorted bottles and found objects, diptych, 183 x 244 cm. From the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

Norberto Roldan, ‘Quelques Fleur 2’, 2010, assemblage with collage, old sepia photographs, assorted bottles and found objects, diptych, 183 x 244 cm. From the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection. Image courtesy Javelyn Ramos.

After its run at the MET Museum, “MANILA: Hidden in Plain Sight”, with the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, will be brought to the campuses of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Universidad de Manila and Manila High School.

Javelyn Ramos

1808

Related Topics: Filipino, video, photography, collage, drawing, museum showsManila

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Avant-garde art and feminism: late Pakistani artist Lala Rukh – artist profile

Art Radar celebrates Lala Rukh, avant-garde artist, feminist and teacher.

Pakistani artist and renowned feminist activist Lala Rukh passed away on 7 July 2017 at her home in Lahore at the age of 69. Art Radar takes a look a few of her most recent works in relation to her four decade long career in teaching and activism.

Lala Rukh. Image from Twitter.

Lala Rukh. Image from Twitter.

Drawing as a linguistic code or musical score

Lala Rukh studied fine arts at the Punjab University, and throughout the early 1970s was awarded various government travel grants in Pakistan to study in Afghanistan and Turkey. It was in Chicago in 1975, on the MFA programme influenced by John Baldessari, John Cage and other Black Mountain College artists, that her drawing and painting work began to expand into an interdisciplinary practice. Lala Rukh began to explore the intellectual, linguistic, mathematical, social and even musical character of drawing.

Lala Rukh, 'Hieroglyphics III (Roshnion ka Shehr - 1)', 2005, paint and graphite on carbon paper, 20.32 x 50.8 cm. Image courtesy The Estate of Lala Rukh and Grey Noise, Dubai.

Lala Rukh, ‘Hieroglyphics III (Roshnion ka Shehr – 1)’, 2005, paint and graphite on carbon paper, 20.32 x 50.8 cm. Image courtesy The Estate of Lala Rukh and Grey Noise, Dubai.

Lala Rukh, 'River in an ocean: 4', 1992, mixed media on photographic paper, 25.4 x 30.48 cm. Image courtesy Image courtesy The Estate of Lala Rukh and Grey Noise, Dubai.

Lala Rukh, ‘River in an ocean: 4’, 1992, mixed media on photographic paper, 25.4 x 30.48 cm. Image courtesy Image courtesy The Estate of Lala Rukh and Grey Noise, Dubai.

Lala Rukh was reportedly particularly intrigued by a performance collaboration between choreographer Merce Cunningham and John Cage. Lala Rukh grew up with some of Pakistan’s most accomplished musicians playing private concerts in her family home (her father, Hayat Ahmad Khan, initiated the All Pakistan Music Conference, aimed at gathering diverse musical practices from across the country). The early influence of music and dance would be drawn into her interdisciplinary engagement with drawing to the point that her lines and image making begin to appear, as early as the 1990s series “Hieroglyphs”, as musical notation, a dance score or a linguistic code. As the Ahmedabad born writer, Natasha Ginwala, writes,

Indeed one of her artistic journeys, toward minimalist calligraphic language, remained intrinsically connected to Hindustani music and dance. When reaching out to score a horizon line over decades, there is an expert incorporation of musicality in her practice. In her “Hieroglyphics” works—drawings which became extended circuits of rhythm and life observations—the counting of a beat is cast into infinitesimal line and curve forms that improbably manage to account for the movement of music, the chasing of light, and the interminable shifts of environmental terrain. […] They remain unknowable. As Lala would say of Hieroglyphics I: Koi ashiq kisi mehbooba se (1995), it was drafted in that vulnerable realm as a “private love letter”.

Lala Rukh, 'Hieroglyphics I: Koi ashiq kisi mehbooba se 1, 1995, ink on paper, 20 × 15 cm (detail). Image courtesy The Estate of Lala Rukh and Grey Noise, Dubai.

Lala Rukh, ‘Hieroglyphics I: Koi ashiq kisi mehbooba se 1, 1995, ink on paper, 20 × 15 cm (detail). Image courtesy The Estate of Lala Rukh and Grey Noise, Dubai.

Lala Rukh, 'Rupak', 2016, digital animation, sound, installation view, Athens Conservatoire (Odeion), Athens, documenta 14, 2017, photo: Mathias Völzke. Image courtesy Documenta.

Lala Rukh, ‘Rupak’, 2016, digital animation, sound, installation view, Athens Conservatoire (Odeion), Athens, documenta 14, 2017, photo: Mathias Völzke. Image courtesy Documenta.

The artist’s life-long dedication to exploring the possible intrinsic relations between drawing and notions of scoring and coding (in both the technological and social sense) can be appreciated in what was to her final work: Rupak (2016). On display in Athens at Documenta 14, the animation work pays homage to the multiple connections that Lala Rukh has made between drawing and social, musical and intellectual life across an interdisciplinary practice that spans drawings, photographs, videos and sound pieces.

Lala Rukh, 'Sand Drawings 2 (detail)', 2000-2015, digital print on Hahnemühle photorag paper, 40.64 x 54.61 cm. Image courtesy The Estate of Lala Rukh and Grey Noise, Dubai.

Lala Rukh, ‘Sand Drawings 2 (detail)’, 2000-2015, digital print on Hahnemühle photorag paper, 40.64 x 54.61 cm. Image courtesy The Estate of Lala Rukh and Grey Noise, Dubai.

On returning from Chicago in 1978 she secured a teaching position with the Fine Arts Department at the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore, where she was a key faculty member for close to 30 years. Despite her systematic drawing practice and prolific output, it is only now – with recent shows at Documenta 14 and Dubai’s Grey Noise Gallery – that critics are paying closer attention to her work, as opposed to focusing on the teaching and activism she is more widely credited for.

Lala Rukh, 'Masawi-Huqooq 1983–84 poster for Women’s Action Forum', 1984, offset-print 68.6 × 48.3 cm. Image courtesy the Lala Rukh Estate.

Lala Rukh, ‘Masawi-Huqooq 1983–84 poster for Women’s Action Forum’, 1984, offset-print 68.6 × 48.3 cm. Image courtesy the Lala Rukh Estate.

An activist and teacher

When the Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq regime (1978- 1988) was beginning to be installed, the Pakistani president introduced a series of laws called the Hudood Ordinances, which brought harsh punishments to citizens for minor breaches. A particular case in 1981, whereby an eloping couple were sentenced to death by stoning, motivated a series of meetings across Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad to protest the laws and other government attacks on human and civil rights.

It was from these meetings in 1981 that the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) emerged – an organisation recognised, by a 1999 report by Human Rights Watch, as first nationwide women’s movement in Pakistan to be so effective in opposing Haq’s policies. Lala Rukh was present at the meetings in Lahore and became one of the founding members of the revolutionary group.

Lala Rukh, 'Flyer for Women’s Action Forum announcing a Jalsa event on February 10 and a demonstration on February 12', 1993, offset print. Image courtesy the Lala Rukh Estate.

Lala Rukh, ‘Flyer for Women’s Action Forum announcing a Jalsa event on February 10 and a demonstration on February 12’, 1993, offset print. Image courtesy the Lala Rukh Estate.

By 1983 the compatibility of her roles as artist, teacher and activist came under scrutiny when she was summoned into the University office and questioned over her participation in a WAF organised public demonstration in 1983 against Haq’s discriminatory “Law of Evidence”, which required that two women had to share a testimony in order to contest that of one man. Lala Rukh’s arrest at this protest put her teaching career on the line – under martial law such political organising was illegal and she could easily have lost her job. While other colleagues did indeed get dismissed, her department allowed her to stay on teaching.

Despite the risks involved, Lala Rukh was present at all of the WAF’s protest actions and played a key role producing visual material for the organisation – campaign posters and pamphlets – as well as developing a pedagogical programme to accompany assembly meetings, setting up a screenprinting workshop for women. According to Night Saeed, her close aide and WAF member, Lala Rukh remained one of the most active members of the organisation and fought for women rights into the new millennium.

Lala Rukh, 'River in an ocean: 4', 1992, mixed media on photographic paper, 25.4 x 30.48 cm. Image courtesy Image courtesy The Estate of Lala Rukh and Grey Noise, Dubai.

Lala Rukh, ‘River in an ocean: 4’, 1992, mixed media on photographic paper, 25.4 x 30.48 cm. Image courtesy Image courtesy The Estate of Lala Rukh and Grey Noise, Dubai.

First Vasl International Workshop at the village of Gadani, Pakistan, 2001. Back row (left to right): KHALIL CHISHTI, LALA RUKH AHMED, JERRY BUHARI, SUMAIRA TAZEEN, RUBYCHISHTI, NILOOFAR CHAMAN, ROOHI AHMED, SHAUNA MCMULLEN, WALTER EMILIOD’SOUZA, AMIN GULGEE, LAURA PADDOCK and NAIZA H. KHAN. Seated (left to right): TANG ZHIGANG, SAMINA MANSURI, K. PUSHPAKUMARA, NAYAN KULKARNI, MARYAM HUSSAIN, ANWAR SAEED, REHAB AL SADEK and ELLEN LIGTERINGEN. Images courtesy Naiza H. Khan, Salima Hashmi, Wahab Jaffar, Vasl Artists’ Collective, Zohra Hussain, Chawkandi Art (Karachi), Naeem Pasha and Rohtas Gallery (Islamabad).

First Vasl International Workshop at the village of Gadani, Pakistan, 2001. Back row (left to right): Khalil Chishti, Lala Rukh Ahmed, Jerry Buhari, Sumaira Taken, Rubychishti, Niloofar Chaman, Roohi Ahmed, Shauna McMullen, Walter Emiliod’Souza, Amin Gulgee, Laura Paddock and Naiza H. Khan. Seated (left to right): Tang Zhigang, Samina Mansuri, K. Pushpakumara, Nayan Kulkarni, Maryam Hussain, Anwar Saeed, Rehab Al Sadek and Ellen Ligteringen. Images courtesy Naiza H. Khan, Salima Hashmi, Wahab Jaffar, Vasl Artists’ Collective, Zohra Hussain, Chawkandi Art (Karachi), Naeem Pasha and Rohtas Gallery (Islamabad).

Founding Vasl Arts Collective 

The experience in women’s rights organising was key in pioneering the first artist-run art collective Vasl. Vasl began in 1999 as a proposal discussed amongst a few women artists, including Lala Rukh, to connect Pakistani artists with international artists through a programme of residencies. Vasl is the first art organisation of its kind in Pakistan and has, since its conception, grown rapidly in size and in popularity, aiding countless artists with the development of both their work and careers, and contributing greatly to the art community in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore.

Lala Rukh participated in the pilot programme in 2001, where she set up a workshop open to local participants, gathering unexpected collaborations and collectivity around her practice of drawing. On their Facebook page, the Vasl Arts Collective left the following dedication after the artist passed away:

We are deeply saddened by the demise of Lala Rukh Ahmed. Lala was a resident artist at Vasl’s first workshop/residency conducted at Gadani in 2001 and was one of the founding members of the Vasl Arts Trust. She was an admirable artist and educator and carried on her studio practice through her patent space makings and varied mediums […] Our hearts and prayers go out for Lala and we thank her for giving us the gift of her creativity.

Rebecca Close

1805

Related Topics: Pakistani artists, art and politics, artist profiles

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The inaugural Art Stage Jakarta Award for Authenticity, Leadership, Excellence, Quality, Seriousness in Art

Art Stage Jakarta announces the winners for its inaugural art award.

With the art fair in full swing on 12 August, Art Stage Jakarta announced the winners of the inaugural Indonesian Art Award. Art Radar highlights a few of the winners.

Winners (from left to right) Grace Samboh, Melati Suryodarmo, Haryanto Adikoesoemo, Jatiwangi Art Factory, Enin Supriyanto, Aditya Novali. Image courtesy ART STAGE Indonesia.

Winners (from left to right) Grace Samboh, Melati Suryodarmo, Haryanto Adikoesoemo, Jatiwangi Art Factory, Enin Supriyanto, Aditya Novali. Image courtesy ART STAGE Indonesia.

On 12 August  2017 Art Stage Jakarta, organiser of the Award for Authenticity, Leadership, Excellence, Quality, Seriousness in Art, congratulated winners, selected from a shortlist of nominees for the 13 Award categories. 2017 marks the inaugural edition of the Award, which recognises the significant players across the spectrum of Indonesia’s art scene. The winners are:

  • Melati Suryodarmo (Best Artist)
  • Aditya Novali (Best Young Artist)
  • Enin Supriyanto (Best Curator)
  • Grace Samboh (Best Young Curator)
  • ROH Projects (Best Gallery and Best Young Gallery)
  • Indonesian Visual Art Archive IVAA (Best Art Institution)
  • 17/71: Goresan Juang Kemerdekaan Pameran Koleksi Seni Rupa Istana Kepresidenan Republik Indonesia (Best Exhibition)
  • Haryanto Adikoesoemo (Best Collector)
  • Tom Tandio (Best Young Collector)
  • Martin Suryajaya (Best Art Publication)
  • Jim Supangkat (Life Achievement Award)
  • Jatiwangi Art Factory (Bhinneka Award)

All winners received a trophy specially created by Indonesian artist Handiwirman Saputra at the gala ceremony that was attended by the who’s who of the Indonesian art world.

Tom Tandio receiving award at Art Stage Indonesia Art Award ceremony, 12 August 2017. Image courtesy ART STAGE Indonesia.

Tom Tandio receiving award at Art Stage Indonesia Art Award ceremony, 12 August 2017. Image courtesy ART STAGE Indonesia.

1. Tom Tandio (Best Young Collector)

Tom Tandio was reportedly introduced to contemporary art collecting in 2007 by his sister-in-law, who taught him about the value and collection of Chinese contemporary art. Over the years he has shifted his scope to Southeast Asian art, with a recent focus on Indonesian artists. Tandio has a background in finance and business, but since his collection of contemporary art began to bloom, the businessman has taken on a more active role in arts and culture organising: he recently took up a position on the board of the Biennale Jogja, Yogyakarta, he launched IndoArtNow.com (an online platform archiving works by contemporary Indonesian artists), and he currently serves as President of the Board of Young Collectors for the Art Stage Jakarta art fair. 

Grace Samboh receiving award at Art Stage Indonesia Art Award ceremony, 12 August 2017. Image courtesy ART STAGE Indonesia.

Grace Samboh receiving award at Art Stage Indonesia Art Award ceremony, 12 August 2017. Image courtesy ART STAGE Indonesia.

2. Grace Samboh (Best Young Curator)

Grace Samboh began her career in the arts as part of ruangrupa, an artist collective based in Jakarta. In 2009, Indonesian Visual Art Archive (IVAA) commissioned her to curate the 21 Years Retrospective of Jogja Biennale as one of the archive-based shows at the Jogja Biennale IX – Jogja Jamming (2009). Samboh now has extensive experience as an arts manager and director with a strong politicised curatorial vision, having served as Executive Director and Curator at the Langgeng Art Foundation where she curated ten exhibitions between 2010–12. In 2011 she co-founded a closed-group discussion forum, Hyphen, which sought to critically analyse Indonesian art history in the 20th century. Since then her work has taken an archival turn, producing a number of exhibtions about past art practices that critically analyse the conceptual problems of archive, national history and radical politics. A particular focus of this has been on Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia (Indonesia New Art Movement, 1975-1989) and their avant-garde critiques.

Representative of Indonesia Visual Art Archive receiving award at Art Stage Indonesia Art Award ceremony, 12 August 2017. Image courtesy ART STAGE Indonesia.

Representative of Indonesia Visual Art Archive receiving award at Art Stage Indonesia Art Award ceremony, 12 August 2017. Image courtesy ART STAGE Indonesia.

3. Indonesian Visual Art Archive IVAA (Best Art Institution)

Indonesian Visual Art Archive (IVAA) was established in Yogyakarta in April 2007 as a nonprofit organisation, formerly the Cemeti Art Foundation (1995-2007). IVAA envisions to become a Service Center for Archives and Documentation, Libraries, as well as the Facilitator for the study of visual arts. Facilities at its physical site (Home IVAA) include the Reading Room and Community Activity Room, where forums are held to discuss cross-disciplinary subjects, and artistic practices that take advantage of new media diversity are explored. IVAA’s collection consists of photographs, audio-visual recordings and printed documents that record the various art practices from pre-independence until today. IVAA’s publications are presented in the form of exhibition catalogues, visual arts research reports, newspaper clippings, artist portfolios and textbooks. Collections in their entirety can be accessed from the online Library Catalogue and online Archive. IVAA take a position as a link that facilitates the interaction between artists, curators, academics and visual artists in general.

Portrait of artist Jim Supangkat who won the lifetime achievement award in the category of Artist. Image from whiteboardjournal.com.

Portrait of artist Jim Supangkat who won the lifetime achievement award in the category of Artist. Image from whiteboardjournal.com.

4. Jim Supangkat (Life Achievement Award)

Jim Supangkat is an Indonesian sculptor, art critic and curator. In 1975, with a group of artists from Yogyakarta and Bandung, Supangkat founded Indonesia New Art Movement (Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia), which is the subject of winning curator Grace Samboh’s research. The movement proclaimed the re-definition of the term “seni rupa” (‘art’ in Indonesian langguage). In four years time, the movement actively organised exhibitions in several cities. In the late 1980s Supangkat became a full-time art critic and editor, and began curating a number of seminal group and solo exhibitions. From the 1990s onwards, he became actively involved in introducing Indonesian art internationally and establishing regional art forums, mainly in Southeast Asia.

Rebecca Close

1818

Related topics: galleriesinstallationemerging artistsIndonesian artistsIndonesian
art
curatorsnewsAsian artistsmarket watchart fairsbusiness of artgallery showscollectorsevents in Jakarta

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“Gridded Currents”: exploring the oceans with art at Kukje Gallery, Seoul

Kukje Gallery is currently exhibiting four artists whose work explores the complex relationship between modernisation and nature.

The Seoul-based gallery has invited independent curator and art critic Hyunjin Kim to curate this group exhibition, which runs until 20 August 2017. 

Runo Lagomarsino, 'Sea Grammar’, detail, 2015, slide projection loop, 80 perforated images in a slide projection carousel with timer, 1 original image (Mediterranean Sea). Photo by Andreas Meck and Terje Ö stling. Image courtesy of the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Nils Stæ rk, Copenhagen.

Runo Lagomarsino, ‘Sea Grammar’, detail, 2015, slide projection loop, 80 perforated images in a slide projection carousel with timer, 1 original image (Mediterranean Sea). Photo: Andreas Meck and Terje Ö stling. Image courtesy the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Nils Stæ rk, Copenhagen.

The exhibition “Gridded Currents” uses a variety of media to explore the detrimental impact of modernisation on nature, and in particular, the sea. As the show’s curator Hyunjin Kim explains,

The sea is no longer a neutral landscape as seen in this exhibition— rather, it approaches the ocean as a site of colonial history, a charged marker of national borders, and a target of capitalistic exploitation with its natural resources.

The four artists – Nina Canell, Ayoung Kim, Runo Lagomarsino and Charles Lim Yi Yong – use installation, performance video, film and works on paper to address and challenge parts of modernity and other meta-narratives that impact, both literally and symbolically, the ocean’s depths.

Installation View. Kukje Gallery, 'Gridded Currents'. Image courtesy Kukje Gallery.

Ayoung Kim, in “Gridded Currents”, 20 July – 20 August 2017, Kukje Gallery, Seoul. Image courtesy Kukje Gallery.

As explained in Kukje Gallery’s press release,

These historical arcs include forgotten or overlooked histories of imperialism and catastrophes as seen through gold and bitumen, struggles of the displaced, issues of nationalism and territorial dispute, and the network of hidden communication cables that crisscross the bottom of the ocean.

Since “The Song of Slant Rhymes” (2013), Kukje Gallery has favoured curator-led shows, often using external critics and curators to broaden the scope of the gallery’s exhibitions and artists. Engaging in the contemporary art world in a global sense is also critical to the gallery’s ethos, which is evident in their selection of artists for their current exhibition.

Installation View. Kukje Gallery, 'Gridded Currents'. Image courtesy Kukje Gallery.

Installation view, “Gridded Currents”, 20 July – 20 August 2017, Kukje Gallery, Seoul. Image courtesy Kukje Gallery.

The exhibition draws upon traditional nature painting from the 19th and early 20th century, commenting on the sea’s symbolic character, which was typical of the period:

The sea, in particular, served as a popular subject evoking lyricism, as well as being a symbol of kitsch, owing to the fluidity and dynamic movements of its currents. The perennial desire of man to control nature was projected onto these images of dashing waves; the more powerfully an artist depicted a wave, the more profoundly he captured the spiritual sublime of mankind.

Yet the sea no longer evokes this romantic, innocuous image, rather becoming a “politically charged location dominated by the logics of global capitalist distribution and commerce”. As a result, imagery surrounding the sea has shifted, now serving as a marker of national boundaries and industrial infrastructure. The artists in “Gridded Currents” reinterpret the sea as a territory on a map, a place to be dominated and ruled over, in line with capitalist globalisation, as the gallery writes:

As vitally engaged fragments introducing this phenomenon, the works in the exhibition enable us to engage with this fraught history of modernity, confronting its lingering impacts. The artists’ varied works focus on these foundations and structures that remain invisible, hidden beneath the currents, providing an aesthetic and oblique passage into their critical investigations.

Nina Canell, 'Shedding Sheaths (H)', detail, 2015, fibre-optic cable sheaths, concrete. Installation view Arko Art Center, Seoul. Photo by Robin Watkins. Image courtesy of the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin

Nina Canell, ‘Shedding Sheaths (H)’, detail, 2015, fibre-optic cable sheaths, concrete, from an installation view from Arko Art Centre, Seoul. Photo: Robin Watkins. Image courtesy the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin.

The work of Nina Canell (b. 1979) can be described as a kind of “sculptural condition”, mirroring natural phenomena in the way that it contains a state of both stillness and flux. Characterised by the intense materiality of her sculptures, in the last few years she has explored the use of fibre-optic cables in technology and the internet, using the bright exteriors of recycled cables that she has collected in the outskirts of both Lyon and Seoul. Toying with the popularity in today’s digital world of wirelessness, cables such as the ones she displays are still common and are often found buried at the bottom of the ocean. In this sense, her work ruminates on the idea of hidden technologies, challenging traditional categories of sculpture as she employs media – such as the wires beneath – that are invisible.

Nina Canell, 'Shedding Sheaths (K) No.5', 2017, fibre-optic cable sheaths. Installation view Arko Art Center, Seoul. Photo by Hyejin Park. Image courtesy of the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin

Nina Canell, ‘Shedding Sheaths (K) No.5’, 2017, fibre-optic cable sheaths from an installation view at Arko Art Centre, Seoul. Photo: Hyejin Park. Image courtesy the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin

In her installation for Kukje Gallery, Canell melts the exterior sheath of the cable, reminding the viewer

of the body that remains embedded in the future, not only rendering the intangible passage of transmitted information tangible, but also revealing the latent cycle wherein plastic exterior sheaths continuously transition from one state to another.

Charles Lim Yi Yong, 'SEA STATE 6: phase 1, 2015, still from single-channel HD digital video 7 min, sound. Image courtesy of the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Future Perfect, Singapore.

Charles Lim Yi Yong, ‘SEA STATE 6: phase 1’, 2015, still from single-channel HD digital video 7 min, sound. Image courtesy the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Future Perfect, Singapore.

A former Olympic sailor, Singaporean Charles Lim Yi Yong‘s practice spans film, installation, sound, text, drawing and photography. Since 2005, he has focused on a series entitled SEA STATE, which looks at the “political, biophysical and psychic contours of Singapore through the visible and invisible lenses of the sea”. His work is made up of intensive research on Singapore’s geographical borders and the effect that mankind has had on its physical environment.

Charles Lim Yi Yong, 'SEA STATE 6: phase 1', 2015, still from single-channel HD digital video 7 min, sound. Image courtesy of the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Future Perfect, Singapore.

Charles Lim Yi Yong, ‘SEA STATE 6: phase 1’, 2015, still from single-channel HD digital video 7 min, sound. Image courtesy the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Future Perfect, Singapore.

As Kukje Gallery explains,

The artist explores the way Singaporeans perceive the sea not as an “expanse” or “open space,” but as a “wall,” where the waters are displaced by land reclamation. In this telling, the sea, an area where global maritime trade occurs, is being transformed into a barrier, marking a mood of isolation, division, and physical conquest based on inviolable national boundaries.

Ayoung Kim, 'Grand deuil (Deep Mourning)’, detail, 2016, digital print. Image courtesy of the artist and Kukje Gallery, Seoul.

Ayoung Kim, ‘Grand deuil (Deep Mourning)’, detail, 2016, digital print. Image courtesy the artist and Kukje Gallery, Seoul.

In contrast, Ayoung Kim focuses on the natural resources of the deserts and seas, his work serving as a stark reminder of the wasteful, detrimental effects of modernisation on the Earth. His work considers how in contemporary culture, oil is now treated as gold, a phenomenon that is linked with the history of the Middle East. Working in collaboration with the composer Heera Kim, his work creates scattered narratives, experimental chorus performances that are inspired by the artist’s explorations on the relationship – and shared macro and micro histories – between the Middle East and modern Korea. The results are compositions with unnatural, otherworldly sounds.

Ayoung Kim, 'Conducting Bitumen in an Infinite Loop’, 2014/2016, digital print, 80 x 80 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Kukje Gallery.

Ayoung Kim, ‘Conducting Bitumen in an Infinite Loop’, 2014/2016, digital print, 80 x 80 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Kukje Gallery.

For his show at Kukje Gallery, Ayoung Kim presents Conducting Bitumen in an Infinite Loop (2014/2016), a video work that recounts the history of bitumen and its role in modern civilisation:

Kim is particularly interested in the myths and history of bitumen, commonly known as the base material of asphalt and a black, dark brown solid or viscous residue of refined petroleum. The history and use of naturally occurring bitumen dates long before the discovery of petroleum, and as described in the Bible, the substance was extracted from trees and used to coat the interior and exterior of Noah’s ark.

Installation View. Kukje Gallery, 'Gridded Currents'. Image courtesy Kukje Gallery.

Installation view, “Gridded Currents”, 20 July – 20 August, Kukje Gallery, Seoul. Image courtesy Kukje Gallery.

Finally, the work of Runo Lagomarsino “utilizes poetic imagery and irony in his practice to reflect on the deeply rooted Eurocentrism that still exists today”, focusing on the history of imperialism and taking Columbus as his starting point. At odds with traditional, romantic notions that view the ocean as a mythic, fantasy realm of adventure and discovery, Lagomarsino’s work stresses its colonial role, and its place within the history of global exploitation.

Runo Lagomarsino, 'Sea Grammar’, 2015, dia projection loop, 80 perforated images in a slide projection carousel with timer, 1 original image (Mediterranean sea). Photo by Agostino Osio. Image courtesy of the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Nils Stærk, Copenhagen.

Runo Lagomarsino, ‘Sea Grammar’, 2015, dia projection loop, 80 perforated images in a slide projection carousel with timer, 1 original image (Mediterranean sea). Photo by Agostino Osio. Image courtesy of the artist, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, and Nils Stærk, Copenhagen.

Key works exhibited here include Mare Nostrum Mare Mostrum (2015) – ‘Our Sea Our Monster’ in Latin – a large curtain with the image of a 16th-century ship battling the “Kraken”, a mythic, terrifying sea monster. Also on view is Sea Grammar (2015), a projected loop of slides that gradually show the Mediterranean sea being punctured with holes, so that by the final slide the sea becomes eclipsed, with only light from the projector remaining. Whilst the work is in one sense serene and tranquil, it also illustrates a certain power, and “the raw violence that remains beneath the surface of the ocean”, as the gallery explains:

The artist takes pains to show how the ocean has historically functioned as a threshold promising new possibilities for immigrants, but that today, it is often an impenetrable barrier confronting exhausted refugees. Most recently, the Mediterranean in particular has become a body of water that large populations of refugees from regions such as Africa, Afghanistan, and Syria desperately struggle to cross. The banal sound of the slides slowly rotating on the carousel hint at the quiet reticence of Europeans faced with this tragedy.

Anna Jamieson

1814

Related topics: galleriesemerging artistscuratorsnews,  gallery showsphotographyvideo, art and nature, political artinstallationcolonialismevents in Seoul

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Russian Conceptualism: “Silent Resistance” – Art Basel Conversation – video

Seminal artist Vadim Zakharov spoke with Margarita Tupitsyn about his role in the Russian Conceptualist movement as part of Art Basel Conversations 2017.

Art Radar considers the key points raised in this talk, including the importance of dialogical collaboration in contemporary art today and the challenges faced by Soviet artists prior to Perestroika.

Ekaterina Inozemtseva, Margarita Tupitsyn and Vadim Zakharov on stage at Art Basel Conversations, 2017. Image courtesy of Art Basel.

Ekaterina Inozemtseva, Margarita Tupitsyn and Vadim Zakharov on stage at Art Basel Conversations, 2017. Image courtesy Art Basel.

Artist, archivist, publisher and leading figure in the art of Moscow Conceptualism during the 1970s and 1980s, Vadim Zakharov‘s artistic practice was at the heart of this talk, part of the Art Basel Conversations series at the June 2017 fair. Speaking with Zakharov was Margarita Tupitsyn, an independent scholar and curator based in New York. Originally from Moscow, Tupistyn has been instrumental in writing about and curating exhibitions of contemporary Soviet art since the late seventies, introducing Moscow Conceptualism to American audiences. 

Click here to watch the Art Basel Conversation “Russian Conceptualism: Silent Resistance” on YouTube

The conversation was moderated by Ekaterina Inozemtseva, Senior Curator at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow. Inozemtseva introduced the talk by questioning the ways that Soviet artists were able to maintain their artistic integrity, whilst working in a state-oriented and explicitly repressive system. What can artists working today glean from the attitudes of the artists of Moscow Conceptualism, and what were the main tools through which these artists communicated?

Vadim Zakharov speaking on the importance of artistic collaboration at Art Basel Conversations, 2017. Image courtesy of Art Basel.

Vadim Zakharov speaking on the importance of artistic collaboration at Art Basel Conversations, 2017. Image courtesy Art Basel.

Silent Resistance?

The discussion opened with a conversation surrounding the given title – “Silent Resistance” – and how these putatively oxymoronic concepts can work in unison. Tupistyn began the conversation by commenting on how, for Russian artists, the concept of silence links to the lack of institutional opportunities available compared to their Western counterparts:

How can resistance be silent? If you resist you are not silent by definition. […] But on the other hand, it’s an interesting term as what it really means in context of the Russian art, is that they didn’t have any access to museums or press or galleries or any kind of system that traditionally promotes art. And that I guess is what was silencing it, on that broader level that Western artists do not know because most Western artists can find a way into press; even if you are very bad someone will write about you, especially today.

Independent scholar and curator Margarita Tupitsyn at Art Basel Conversations, 2017. Image courtesy of Art Basel.

The panel at Art Basel Conversations, 2017. Image courtesy Art Basel.

This lack of opportunity and promotion influenced Tupitsyn’s own work when she moved to New York in the seventies, as she tried to “give a voice to Russian art, trying to get it heard in museums, galleries and press”, whilst encouraging New York curators and critics to engage. She explains how these challenges were further reinforced as today the idea of  an “artist outsider” is common, and furthermore accepted:

In fact, all the art world does is look for outsiders today. That is not what was happening in the art world of the eighties, or late seventies. The Western art world was not looking for any artists who weren’t out of New York or some European communities […]. So to promote someone who was not only Russian, not only silenced, but also when there was no communication between the countries – let’s say America and Russia… it was almost a completely impossible job.

Independent scholar and curator Margarita Tupitsyn at Art Basel Conversations, 2017. Image courtesy of Art Basel.

Independent scholar and curator Margarita Tupitsyn at Art Basel Conversations, 2017. Image courtesy Art Basel.

The conversation then moved to the meaning and importance of resistance within the art world. Tupitsyn stresses how resistance should be viewed as a positive thing, something that can spur on and characterise art movements, particularly within a political context:

I think artists in general have a love/hate relationship with resistance. They can’t live without resistance but they also hate it when someone resists them or gives them a problem. It’s a very interesting issue and I hope it continues to exist because artists need resistance and because artists need to resist.

Tupitsyn and Zakharov then discuss the conflicted relationship between Soviet audiences and Russian art, with Tupitsyn explaining how in the 1980sthe idea of contemporary art was dropped like a nuclear bomb on Russian society without any preparation, without any education, just dropped”:

For the general public it was completely unclear what contemporary art was. Even what modernism was, because most modernist art was hidden in storage in Russian museums. So they didn’t really know what modern art existed, or what contemporary art existed, what were the issues, which for modernists and contemporary artists were so familiar. And I think this was where such big conflict occurred. During perestroika, such conflicts were very dangerous because the idea of repression was so repulsive to everyone because they lived for decades with repulsive ideas. Then later, say in the 2000s, they sort of forget that they were repressed, and they started repressing – the audience themselves. And I think that’s more the audience than the government. I was doing the Russian Pavilion in 2015, and no one ever said a word to me about what I can and can’t curate, neither to the artist.

Zakharov was in agreement that he too had not recently felt censored or repressed by any official organiser, particularly when exhibiting at the Russian Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale. This led to a discussion about the role of modern audiences, asking questions about who is doing the repressing, and whether contemporary Russian artists are still being repressed. Like leftover cultural apparatus from a bygone, intensely restrictive era, where audience expectations or projections colour general perceptions of Russian exhibitions, it could be argued that frameworks of repression are being recreated by the audiences themselves, rather than the state.

Moderator Ekaterina Inozemtseva, Senior Curator, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow on stage at Art Basel Conversations, 2017. Image courtesy of Art Basel.

Moderator Ekaterina Inozemtseva, Senior Curator, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow on stage at Art Basel Conversations, 2017. Image courtesy Art Basel.

“Free Home”

A key talking-point throughout the conversation was the importance of collaborative projects in modern and contemporary art. Both speakers lamented the fact that artists no longer collaborated on the same scale as the Moscow Conceptualists, with Zakharov stressing how the art market does not welcome or encourage collaborative work, rather focusing on individual work and therefore strengthening artist’s egos. In keeping with his original ethos as a young artist, Zakharov now stages and hosts regular exhibitions in his home in Berlin, something he calls “Free Home”  – and that Ekaterina Inozemtseva described as the artist returning “back to his roots”. In this sense, non-commercial, non-institutional projects continue to exemplify his practice.

“It’s my position that I create myself not only [as] an artist but a figure in culture, with archives, with publishing,” he explains. Whilst his project is all about artists, he prefers to include critics and curators in this category, pivotal due to their role in creating artistic dialogue and spaces through which dialogical encounters can take place: 

It is about dialogue. I think we lost dialogue in private space. And we lost a little bit of the human format […] I started with collaborations, and I would like to say collaborations are very important methods that are totally not accepted by art market. It is not possible to sell works of collaborations. Nobody is interested.

He states that artists themselves should engage in the art market, buying collaborative pieces from each other for a few hundred dollars or euros. Tupitsyn comments too on how working with a collaboration or a group of artists, rather than an individual, can be profitable for curators, making their lives easier by working with a group of individuals and egos. Both speakers agree that working in a collaborative capacity allows emphasis to be placed on human relationships, interaction and decision-making. Perhaps the most important point to glean from this conversation, was the role of discussion in creating artworks. As Tupitsyn concludes:

To explain why collaboration was possible in Russia in this period: all people did was talk. They were discussing. People don’t do it anymore. They do it like this, to show themselves and show how important they are. We are. Nut they don’t do it for the pleasure of it. I’m sure Vadim started their collaboration with conversation. If you don’t have a desire to converse, if you only have a desire to meet a dealer or a curator, you cannot collaborate, it’s impossible.

Art Basel’s fast-paced and expansive talk provokes many questions about the importance of social environment to artistic production, the creative networks that underlie concepts and movements, as well as the role of the audience in shaping perspectives.

Anna Jamieson

1801

Related topics: Russian artistscuratorial practicebiennalespoliticalsocialart fairs, events in Basel

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An Electronic Monster: the light and sound art of Yao Chung-Han at Project Fulfill, Taipei

Taiwanese sound and light artist Yao Chung-Han creates an electronic monster at Taipei Gallery Project Fulfill.

Art Radar talks to Yao Chung-Han about his new works and takes a look at the exhibition at Taipei’s Project Fulfill Art Space.

Yao Chung-Han, 'Electronic Monster #2 – Ceiling', 2017, LED, electronic devices, speakers, computer, dimensions variable, Installation view at Project Fulfill Art Space, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

Yao Chung-Han, ‘Electronic Monster #2 – Ceiling’, 2017, LED, electronic devices, speakers, computer, dimensions variable, Installation view at Project Fulfill Art Space, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

“An Electronic Monster” consists of three new artworks by Yao Chung-HanLLLP (Laser Lamp Live Performance), Electronic Monster #2 – Ceiling, and Electronic Monster #3 – On the Hour – created especially for Taipei gallery Project Fulfill Art Space. Much of his work transforms flickering lights of fluorescent light tubes and sound of light starters into sensuous and poetic experiences in defined space. Everyday objects are set to trigger bodily senses through colliding visual and audio experiences. Yao Chung-Han often creates integrated sound and space installations, and many works include an element of live performance.

Lasers, Lamps and Music

That is the case with LLLP (2017) – a new performance installation that incorporates electric current noise and electronic music. The artwork forges a relationship between processes of experimentation and failure in art practice and error in the production of electronic music. LLLP is displayed as an installation in process – a container and a theatre set for the artist who is regularly rehearsing onsite in a demonstration of the art-making process. After a series of experiments and work in progress rehearsals open to the public, the artist will perform a culmination of these experiments as a final performance on 19 August 2017.

Yao Chung-Han, 'LLLP (Laser Lamp Live Performance)', 2017, Fluorescent lamps, LED, electronic devices, speakers, computer, 3’40”, Installation view at Project Fulfill Art Space, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

Yao Chung-Han, ‘LLLP (Laser Lamp Live Performance)’, 2017, fluorescent lamps, LED, electronic devices, speakers, computer, 3min 40sec. Installation view at Project Fulfill Art Space, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

In his practice, Yao Chung-Han is often interested in finding new ways for the spectator to feel and experience space, finding ways to test the segmentation of the senses. Yao Chung-Han’s installations are motivated by the desire to re-route and recodify the senses through testing modes of recognition of light, sound and vibration. Talking to Art Radar about the relationship between the performance and exhibition elements, the artist stated:

The work is simply something that is live, if we don’t think so seriously about if this is music or is this sound, or is this hearing. When it is something that is simply happening live, what form would it become? When this work was installed it allows the audience to hear and see the relationship between light and sound in a simple way. During the performance I think it is still developing, in the end what form it will become has not yet been fully realized

YAO Chung-Han, ‘LLSP’, 2009, Performance view at FUKUOKA ASIAN ART MUSEUM, Fukuoka, Japan. Photo: Chiang, chen-wei. Image courtesy the artist.

YAO Chung-Han, ‘LLSP’, 2009, Performance view at FUKUOKA ASIAN ART MUSEUM, Fukuoka, Japan. Photo: Chiang, chen-wei. Image courtesy the artist.

LLLP is a continuation of the LLSP and LLAP series created between 2008 and 2015 respectively. LLSP, first performed in 2008 is, as the title suggests, a Laser, Lamps and Sound Performance. The work explores the sensory experience of anxiety as a physical condition constituted by symptoms that appear in the body and can be, according to the artist, reconfigured or controlled. The work explores the notion of sensorial coding as the artist asks, “How can we write a code to command the body?” Yao writes about the technical aspects of LLSP on his website:

Fingering with a green laser light, when touching the laser, the fluorescent lamps all lighten up and also the sounds are triggered. This is how I play an instrument, which is created on my own. I place some devices like microphones around the fluorescent lamps and then amplify the tiny noises from switching on of lamps and input the noises into my computer. Laser lights are projected 170 cm long and I use sensors to judge the position of my hands to control tuning up or down on this 170 cm long green laser light.

Click here to watch a video of Yao Chung-Han’s ‘LLAP’ performance at MOCA Taipei on Vimeo

In LLAP (which is both an installation and a performance) Yao Chung-Han swaps out lamps for electronic music with the aim of, as his website explains,

creating a broader discussion on the essence of hearing, which is not limited to the classification of sonic, sound and music.

Talking to Art Radar about the changes between the distinct versions of the work, Yao stated:

The earliest was LLSP, which stands for Laser Lamp Sound Performance. Later in 2015 there was LLAP, where I changed ‘sound’ into ‘audio’. The latest work is LLLP where I defined the ‘L’ as ‘live performance’.

Yao Chung-Han, 'Electronic Monster #2 – Ceiling', 2017, LED, electronic devices, speakers, computer, dimensions variable, Installation view at Project Fulfill Art Space, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

Yao Chung-Han, ‘Electronic Monster #2 – Ceiling’, 2017, LED, electronic devices, speakers, computer, dimensions variable, Installation view at Project Fulfill Art Space, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

Electric Monsters

Like the “LLLP” series, “Electronic Monster” is the continuation of another series of installations that rather explore the relationship between scale and physical perception of space and use the movement of light (as opposed to sound or LEDs) as a main technique. The first instance of the work, entitled Electronic Monster #1 – Bridge, was shown on a bicycle bridge in Yue Jin Harbor during the Yue Jin Lantern Festival in Yanshuei, Tainan. The current exhibition presents two new instances of this work.

Electronic Monster #2 – Ceiling has been installed towards the edge of the highest part of the ceiling of the gallery, and is in this sense a site-specific work. It consists of a stream of light that is turned on and off repeatedly, creating a sense of movement and speed that leads the audience to redefine their perception of the space, shifting their core attention to their bodies. Talking about the use of flood lights in this work, the artist commented to Art Radar:

The reason I wanted to use floodlights for the installation is that they are frequently used outside architectural buildings to illuminate the outer walls, so they are suitable for thinking about a wide area or spatial concepts. I think it may be because of my background, so my later works easily include spatial ideas in their creative process. Perhaps in comparison with my peers, my works are not the type in which you hang or place on the wall, they naturally consider the use of spatial forms. So by installing flood lights onto parts of the building’s architecture, letting light and space generate a relationship, you could say that up until now, especially this time I wanted to try this out, so I chose to use floodlights designed for architectural buildings.

Yao Chung-Han, 'Electronic Monster #3 – On the Hour', 2017, lamps, fog machines, electronic devices, speakers, computer, dimensions variable. Installation view at Project Fulfill Art Space, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

Yao Chung-Han, ‘Electronic Monster #3 – On the Hour’, 2017, lamps, fog machines, electronic devices, speakers, computer, dimensions variable. Installation view at Project Fulfill Art Space, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

Electronic Monster #3 – On the Hour, on the other hand, is associated with notions of time and reality. The work combines real time mechanical sounds and music produced by the artist. A mechanical smoke machine has been rigged to trigger every hour, filling the space and creating an image of a beast that changes in scale – an experience designed by the artist to draw attention to architectural framing that holds the image. Yao Chung-Han reflects on the use of smoke in this work to Art Radar, stating:

Perhaps my works have more of a physicality, when smoke quickly fills the space, and then opening the door and allowing the smoke to flow out onto the street, I think this is a very direct feeling, this scene is quite beautiful, and it is likely that encounters may happen. For example we would be worried whether the neighbours would call the police, would anyone be concerned that a fire broke out? I think works that encounter a sense of reality is quite important for me.

Yao Chung-Han, 'LLLP (Laser Lamp Live Performance)', 2017, Fluorescent lamps, LED, electronic devices, speakers, computer, 3’40”, Installation view at Project Fulfill Art Space, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

Yao Chung-Han, ‘LLLP (Laser Lamp Live Performance)’, 2017, Fluorescent lamps, LED, electronic devices, speakers, computer, 3’40”, Installation view at Project Fulfill Art Space, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

Asked about the story behind the series title, the artist commented:

There are several reasons behind the name “An Electronic Monster”, firstly there is the concept of ‘light and electricity’; in the past my works are created using a lot of sound and light. Whereas the word ‘monster’, there is the possibility of development; when I saw my child playing with some toys, I thought back to when I played with toys as a child, I would easily take what was a new toy and play with it until it broke. I would then take the individual parts and turn them into a new toy, maybe it would just be a single wheel, and I would imagine it was a new airplane, even lighter and more easily carried around with me everywhere. When I recalled this I discovered my works have some similarities. I would take an object and find a different state, after which I would redefine that object and what kind of state or form it should have.

For example, the way in which the fluorescent lights are controlled has this kind of relation, I spent a lot of time controlling the light, and I wanted to achieve a flow of light that looked like it had a strong life force. So I imagined a kind of living organism and I thought about a few words, in the end I decided to use ‘monster’. I think it has a wide space for definition, it can be something ferocious or something tame, I think its form still has a lot of room to develop, so I thought of the name An Electronic Monster.

Auditory experiences

Both the “Electronic Monster” and “LLLP” series are examples of an “auditory experience”, constituted by both a performance or choreography and modifications to the architectural space or environment­. This is a mode of working that the artist has repeatedly returned to throughout his decade long career, perhaps for the way in which it offers opportunities to bring together and thus rupture the exhibition, performance and sound formats.

Rebecca Close

1806

Related topics: Taiwanese artists, gallery shows, events in Taipei, moving image, political art, installation

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