“The End Product is Mysterious”: Indonesian artist Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo – artist profile

The Bandung-based artist pushes traditional modes of painting to its limits, using resin to create large-scale experimental works.

Oscillating between abstract painting and industrial methods, Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo has perfected his skills over years working with resin. For his upcoming solo exhibition at Sullivan+Strumpf in Sydney, the artist has formulated a new body of work incorporating food material. Art Radar takes a closer look at the artist’s practice.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Cabe', 2017, video still (1), 22 July – 12 August 2017, Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney. Image courtesy Sullivan + Strumpf

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Cabe’, 2017, video still. Image courtesy Sullivan + Strumpf.

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.

Moving pigments

Deeply interested in the nature of pigmented resin, Arin not only incorporates in his research knowledge about its preserving qualities; his art practice changes with every new pigment he discovers. This adventurousness reflects his inner curiosity through the use of multiple techniques and new media. He told Art Radar:

At the moment resin is my driving force. So far, I have learned a lot from every pigment I have explored. […] The choice of the pigments actually open up a completely new horizon within my artistic works.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Cabe', 2017, video still (2), 22 July – 12 August 2017, Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney. Image courtesy Sullivan + Strumpf

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Cabe’, 2017, video still. Image courtesy Sullivan + Strumpf.

Arin’s newest body of work will be shown during his solo exhibition at Sullivan+Strumpf from 22 July until 12 August 2017 in Sydney. Still using resin as the “binding-agent”, the artist has now started to engage with different kinds of food pigments, like spices, dyed food, milk powder and even instant noodles. However, being used to working with different kinds of pigments, from natural to industrial ones, Arin has contradictory emotions about using “eatable” [edible] material:

Utilizing organic food pigments for the first time, a feeling of “taboo” came up when I used eatable [sic] material for artistic purposes. Perhaps because human culture tends to look at food as something “sacred”. Just like stepping on or throwing food away is something frowned upon society.

He captures the process of the pigments becoming permanent when fusing with the viscous materiality of resin through the medium of moving images, such as in his latest video work Cabe (2017). Explaining his recent move to videography, the artist tells Art Radar:

My interest in using the medium of videography arose because of its specific qualities to open up a new experience in perceiving every single pigment.

The art on display in the exhibition is a progression from Arin’s previous works, merging photography within his resin panels.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Mother and child series #1', 2012, pigmented resin, digital print mounted on wooden panel, 159,5 x 276 cm. Image courtesy IVVA (Indonesian Visual Art Archive).

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Mother and Child Series #1’, 2012, pigmented resin, digital print mounted on wooden panel, 159,5 x 276 cm. Image courtesy IVVA (Indonesian Visual Art Archive).

Arin meets resin 

Arin came upon the very specific materiality of resin in 2008 quite by chance. Indonesian art journalist and critic Carla Bianpoen described his first encounter with the material’s quality thus:

One day, he was using resin to smooth the surface of his canvases. Because he was concentrating on whether the resin had improved the canvases’ surface, he didn’t notice the resin drippings on the edges of the canvases. […] Fascinated, he started experimenting, agitating the canvas on which he had put some resin.

From the day of his discovery, the uncommon material gradually became a crucial part and signature medium of his artistic practice.

What makes resin unpredictable and tremendously challenging is the material’s characteristic to harden within only 15 minutes. However, Arin turns this drawback into his personal artistic strategy. Limited to a tight time frame, the artist has to be even more aware of and accomplished in working with the material. According to Bianpoen, the artist’s short production time thus mirrors today’s “Zeitgeist”: Extremely challenging, it fits the spirit of the time.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Ashslide #2', 2015, pigmented resin, volcanic ash and various mineral pigments mounted on plexiglass panel, 242 x 195 cm. Image courtesy IndoArtNow.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Ashslide #2’, 2015, pigmented resin, volcanic ash and various mineral pigments mounted on plexiglass panel, 242 x 195 cm. Image courtesy IndoArtNow.

Preserved fluidity 

Rejecting the brush, Arin splashes, pours, throws, drips or drizzles the still-liquid substance with containers or his own hands onto different kinds of flat surfaces. The material’s fluidity or flowing nature thus replaces brush strokes within his paintings. Sometimes he even uses skateboards if he wants to produce straight lines, as in his work Ashslide #2.

The exact moment of the sudden freezing of the fluid’s unexpected flow is then marked by a double preservation effect. On the one hand there is the transitory process, led by Arin’s vision and somewhat by chance, captured when the material hardens. On the other hand, the substance itself contains a preservation effect, as Arin explains in a video by INDOARTNOW:

My inspiration is the material itself. When I decided to use resin, I tried to conduct research about it […]. As an example, resin is well-known for preserving or freezing the microorganisms which [are] trapped in pine tree sap. […] Archaeologists or biologists usually could find the intact fossils or animals inside the resin.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Enlightenment Has Many Faces #2', 2016, pigmented resin, 14 x 14,25 x 31 cm, exhibited at the Art Fair Philippines 2017. Image courtesy the artist.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Enlightenment Has Many Faces #2’, 2016, pigmented resin, 14 x 14,25 x 31 cm, exhibited at the Art Fair Philippines 2017. Image courtesy the artist.

Arin’s laboratory 

The artist is also interested in the medium’s transformations and its role within contemporary industrial production – it is now used for every kind of manufacturing, from plastic to furniture. Emphasising the material’s functions in modern times, Arin’s whole process using resin is dedicated to industrial methods, turning his atelier into a dynamic laboratory of experimentation. Even his limited choice of colours refers to the four inks used within industrial printing, as Arin shares in an interview with the Guggenheim:  

I found that there is a complex relationship between the industrial material and also the digital printing. And the colour palette that I use for this colour is actually restricted to CMYK*.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Enlightenment Has Many Faces #3', 2017, pigmented resin, 59 x 37 x 10 cm, exhibited at the Art Fair Philippines 2017. Image courtesy the artist.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Enlightenment Has Many Faces #3’, 2017, pigmented resin, 59 x 37 x 10 cm, exhibited at the Art Fair Philippines 2017. Image courtesy the artist.

Specifically in Indonesia, his distinct approach means a step away from the successful practice of his father Sunaryo, who is a well-known Indonesian artist and initiator of the Selasar Sunaryo Art space in Bandung.

Arin’s artworks have been widely exhibited across the globe. Besides recent solo exhibitions at the ARDNT Gallery in Berlin (2015) and at the Selasar Sunaryo Art Space in Bandung (2015), Arin’s Volcanic Ash Series #4 was shown at the Guggenheim South and Southeast Asia group exhibition in 2013.

Recently, some of his freshest works were displayed at Art Fair Philippines, including two of his sculptures, Enlightenment Has Many Faces #2 and #3, made from leftovers of his resin paintings.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Under the Ash Cloud', 2013, pigmented resin, Merapi volcanic ash mounted on wooden panel, 180 x 290 cm (diptych). Image courtesy IVVA (Indonesian Visual Art Archive).

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, ‘Under the Ash Cloud’, 2013, pigmented resin, Merapi volcanic ash mounted on wooden panel, 180 x 290 cm (diptych). Image courtesy IVVA (Indonesian Visual Art Archive).

Volcanic ash

Born and bred in Bandung, Indonesia’s creative hub, Arin decided to continue his Master’s studies in London at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Inspired by Ian Davenport and Alexis Harding, Arin freed himself from Bandung cubism and formulated a new “universal language” between Asia and Europe, as Arndt stated in an interview with The New York Times.

Still driven by cross-narratives rooted in Indonesia, Arin started to merge volcanic ash within his resin paintings. Constantly reconsidering his own methods, his usage of the Merapi volcano ash transformed within his works over time, becoming more event-focused soon after the eruption in 2010, and emphasising material as showcased in his solo exhibition at Equator Art Projects in 2013.

Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, 'Lagedu', 2016, pigmented resin, volcanic ash and digital print on wooden panel, 358 x 120 x 5 cm (diptych). Image courtesy ROH projects.

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

Arin was intrigued by the moment when the ash fused with the resin. Their encounter changed the colours to more brownish tones, like in Under the Ash Cloud (2013). Similar to resin, volcanic ash contains preserving qualities, therefore serving as a natural progression of Arin’s material selection. As art historian Tony Godfrey highlighted within the catalogue of the exhibition “Ashfall”:

Art can defy if not deny time. It cannot preserve the maelstrom, but it can preserve or recreate a moment of it.

Claudia König

1746

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.

 

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“Jaonua: The Nothingness & Sanook Dee Museum”: Thailand’s Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook at Tyler Rollins Fine Art – artist profile and interview

Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook explores awareness, attachment and the relations between film and buddhism

Art Radar talks to the artist about her current exhibition project “Jaonua: The Nothingness & Sanook Dee Museum”. 

Installation view of Jaonua: The Nothingness & Sanook Dee Museum, at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, June 1 - July 28, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

“Jaonua: The Nothingness & Sanook Dee Museum”, installation view at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, June 1 – July 28, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s Jaonua: The Nothingness (2016) is a five-channel video installation, which was originally commissioned for the 2016-17 Singapore Biennale. The work now makes its international debut in an expanded exhibition format in Jaonua: The Nothingness & Sanook Dee Museum at New York’s Tyler Rollins Fine Art until 28 July 2017, where it is shown alongside Sanook Dee Museum (2017), a single-channel video being exhibited for the first time.

Since the late 1990s, video has been the primary medium of Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook‘s artistic practice. Still informed by her early sculptural installation work, her videos explore the physicality of light, surface and colour in ways that echo the conceptual experiments of early structural film. This media specific exploration of the medium of film and its physicality mirror the content’s focus on the physicality of the body: her films often present figures placed in semi-abstract rural or urban environments. The formalism of her questions around the structure of film as a medium and her exploration of the body, mind and spirit come together in video works that explore the physical presence of the audience in near participatory ways. Her works find ways of highlighting the presence of an audience that is both observing the action and ceremonially participating in it.

Installation view of Jaonua: The Nothingness & Sanook Dee Museum, at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, June 1 - July 28, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

“Jaonua: The Nothingness & Sanook Dee Museum”, installation view at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, June 1 – July 28, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Buddhist film: exploring the relations between memory, projection and experience

Jaonua: The Nothingness might be called a ‘retrospective work’ to the extent that it weaves together previous works in Araya’s portfolio, bringing together distinct thematic strands from throughout her career into a powerfully integrated whole. The installation work is thus visually, conceptually and formally complex as it carries a number of references and re-performances of earlier works. Five connected narratives are projected onto various surfaces of domestic objects – a bed, a window, a rug. Video clips taken from her earlier work are incorporated into a series of almost surreal narrative fragments informed by Buddhist teachings relating to the nature of suffering, attachment and karma, alongside musings on the Western philosophy of Being. A montage of visual motifs coalesces into a powerful vision of the cycle of life, exploring the nature of attachment in its many forms – whether to sex or eating, to rigid philosophical systems, or even to the sensuality of the artwork.

As viewers move through this abstract yet familiar domestic environment they are encouraged to enter a dream state, in which memory, projection and experience blend, thus establishing a relationship between film and experience, and offering the artist’s Buddhist reading of what film can teach us about human perception.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, 'Four Monks with Three Ladies in Sanook Dee Museum', 2017, digital print, 31 x 47 in. (79 x 119.5 cm), edition of 7. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, ‘Four Monks with Three Ladies in Sanook Dee Museum’, 2017, digital print, 31 x 47 in., edition of 7. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Revisiting previous works in Sanook Dee Museum (2017)

Since 2008 Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook has been engaged with critiquing the forms of distribution of art in a global context, and has sought to make projects that actively demystify modern and contemporary art to diverse publics. Sanook Dee Museum returns to one of Rasdjarmrearnsook’s most acclaimed works, Two Planets (2008) and Village and Elsewhere (2011), in which she placed framed reproductions of iconic Western paintings in rural villages, markets and Buddhist temples in Thailand, and filmed groups of farmers discussing the artworks, sometimes along with Buddhist monks. In Sanook Dee Museum, she brings these participants into the museum, which becomes the stage for a dynamic conversation.

Art Radar talked to Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook about the exhibition.

You have said in the past that your installation work is an exploration of “the inseparable entanglement of things/lives/subjects”. Could you unpack this complex turn of phrase a little? Does art merely reflect the relationships between things, lives and subjects or can it intervene, reconfiguring these entanglements?

Actually the statement was from me for a curator to provide an overall picture of my work. But I will elaborate more on this. To live as an individual on a single road from home to kindergarten was neither easy nor difficult for a little girl to walk there in the morning and return home in the evening. But on the day she had to cross the road to the temple facing directly opposite to her home to her mom’s funeral to cremate her, the little girl realised that the same road could take her “elsewhere” other than to her school back and forth every day in the morning and evening sun. The river that nurtures the town flows past her house in the back all three seasons in which she enjoyed swimming and paddling around on the weekend afternoon and holidays.

But one night in the rainy season when her mom passed away after the candle light festival of Loy Kratong, the rushing torrent made the familiar river with the candle light in the banana leaf floats and the beautiful flowers in it that mom and I raised above our heads to pray and apologise to the river, became a “distrustful picture”. The flower floats that were supposed to bring good luck became a mere object of stepping out of the object of tradition and festival to an object of personal meaning. The relationship of things and between things could have been more than “merely” if placed next to “exploration”. In particular an exploration of life context and art. One could detect some minute charming details. I prefer the word “awareness” rather than the previous word “exploration”.

Does art merely reflect the relationships between things, lives and subjects or can it intervene, reconfiguring these entanglements? What meanings do you get from viewing my artwork as “things” under the title which are your subjects and perceptions that cannot be separated from your lives? Everything exists in existence and doesn’t need words, but explaining an art perspective requires words and those words were chosen. Is a dog’s mane (hair?) “things” like a corpse? Then what is more valuable, death, mania, success?

Installation view of Jaonua: The Nothingness & Sanook Dee Museum, at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, June 1 - July 28, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

“Jaonua: The Nothingness & Sanook Dee Museum”, installation view at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, June 1 – July 28, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

The process of this work is that of weaving together several sections of life and art. If it turns out to be a finished concept, one calls it an “amazing object” that contains several dimensions, different time and places on its flat plane. The tale may remind you that you cannot learn through other’s experience but your own. If this is true, what use is art? It would be just a light touch mentally or an illusion of what seems gorgeous/splendid via reception. If the perception ends at the significance or art attitude itself (the intentional paradoxical attitude to make art absolutely nonsense or absurd as we often experience in contemporary art) will this be enough?

Yet, if art “merely” makes you think or makes you aware and then opens ways for you to reflect on it further, will this be enough? In the overwhelming decorations and over acting of art there is always “nothingness”, that is so and so, this is not and so on. The name of the dog part of the project is Jao Nua which means “rather pudgy” is a key characteristic of the victim as a consumer.

Installation view of Jaonua: The Nothingness & Sanook Dee Museum, at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, June 1 - July 28, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

“Jaonua: The Nothingness & Sanook Dee Museum”, installation view at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, June 1 – July 28, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

In your project “Joa Nua: Nothingness” you have five segments of film projected onto the surface of sheets and a bed. Could you talk about this decision to take control of the surface of projection? How would you characterise the relations you set up in this work between domesticity, sleep and film?

I have instinctively felt that “Video 5” would need a concrete form in some way. The picture and meaning is not beyond our life conduct. I decided to project the work on what we are familiar with the most, a room whose soft carpet we walk on, a bed (warm or cold) inviting us to lie down on, a nice picture in a gold frame and a window to look through with large colourful pictures on the wallpaper.

I intended to show the funeral rite on the bed to convey restfulness. The original artwork of Jeff Koon walking in the local market is tilted winding around the stalls from a vertical to a horizontal angle while the coffin is put on the crematorium. All the meanings are combined to relate the resting, disintegration, destruction, perseverance which come to nothingness. And a projection produces a ‘Non-identity’ projected picture.

Both works in the Tyler Rollins exhibition reference earlier works of yours. What motivated you to revisit these earlier projects at this point in your career and life?

Going back to the earlier projects means the same as joining the celebration of time/space sharing in the past before saying goodbye to each other.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, 'Amusement in Sanook Dee Museum', 2017, digital print, 31 x 47 in. (79 x 119.5 cm), edition of 7. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, ‘Amusement in Sanook Dee Museum’, 2017, digital print, 31 x 47 in., edition of 7. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

In Sanook Dee Museum you return to working with the same workers and monks that participated in your 2011 video work Village and Elsewhere. What was particularly different about the working process this time? What challenges did you have to overcome?

Since I was able to buy a new car without having to sell the old one, I kept the old car because it has a scene when my first dog and I travelled together all the time until she (Jao Nua) was gone. The car accumulated the distance, the time and the little scenes of our relationship to call for a smile for “our scenes”. In Sanook Dee Museum, I arranged a farewell party for the old works determining not to go back to them. During the process, I inserted a song when I was a freshman in the only art university in Thailand at the time. I was the first freshman standing in the row of female students of the first faculty of Art University. (I was the tallest). I led the students of all faculties to all activities, which we participated. I was the most outstanding to be noticed singing a faculty song “very pure art, as pure as the moonlight” while questioning “what is art for, to remain to create what?” I’ve reversed the song myself because what I’ve created has never been accepted in the sophisticated culture of the Thai Art and I’ve violated the ethics so far.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, 'Jaonua: The Nothingness', 2016, digital print, 31 x 47 in. (79 x 119.5 cm), edition of 7. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, ‘Jaonua: The Nothingness’, 2016, digital print, 31 x 47 in., edition of 7. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

What communities, philosophies and fellow artist practices have been important for your most recent developments as an artist?

Chumchon Deratchan (bestial/or subhuman community), Nietzsche’s philosophy of “human all too human” and Camus’s a giant pushing stone under the inescapable shadow of a joyless attitude = No “Sanook Dee” with life (Buddhist view), all of those have been wrapped around me in the gloomy atmosphere tempting one to commit suicide. All of the above can be diluted by more optimistic thought of Peter Singer’s animal rights. Art may be a way out to “burst out laughing” that reflects the above situation while being satirical at the same time in order to survive once more.

I question your use of the word ‘development’, I dare not use the word. It is merely among back and forth as the way out of one knot of problems and a deed and of another knot. It is good, it is good that I can “now go through it once again” as both an art maker and life director.

Rebecca Close

1730

Related topics: Buddhist art, religious art, self, sexuality, spiritual, film, events in New YorkmultimediaglobalisationInstallation

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“Terraoptics”: Indian multimedia artist Vivan Sundaram explores ruins at sepia EYE, New York

Vivan Sundaram presents photographic works of found potshards from the ruins of Muziris, the ancient Indian port town near the site of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Internationally renowned multimedia artist Vivan Sundaram’s “Terraoptics” continues along his existing artistic trajectory of using found objects, which are also archival objects, to investigate and explore the possibilities of the archive.

Vivan Sundaram, Terraoptics 925, Photography Gireesh G.V.

Vivan Sundaram, Terraoptics 925, Photography Gireesh G.V.

Vivan Sundaram (b. 1943) is one of India’s most prolific multimedia artists, whose work explores history, memory, social issues and their intersection with popular culture. He is particularly adept at taking found objects, which seem to have expired, and giving them new life by manipulating them using contemporary technologies. Sundaram does not mind clash; in fact, he invites it every time he digs into the past and offers up what might have been intentionally hidden for contemporary review.

Vivan Sundaram, Terraoptics 236, Photography Gireesh G.V.

Vivan Sundaram, Terraoptics 236, Photography Gireesh G.V.

To say this kind of exploration is a trend for Sundaram would be imprecise and too simple a classification. As a multidisciplinary artist, Sundaram is adept at discerning how best to excavate different sites of knowledge, be it a very personal, family photographic collection as in [Re-Take of Amrita], or urban industrial waste in New Delhi, which he fashioned into a city for his series “Trash”.

With “Terraoptics”, now on show at SepiaEYE until 24 June 2017, Sundaram has moved from the photographic archive to the city as a living archive containing the waste of its residents, to the earth itself, specifically the ruins of the ancient port city of Muziris. In its initial iteration presented in the 2012 Kochi-Muziris biennale, Terraoptics was presented as a large-scale installation consisting of a hundred thousand potshards from Pattanam in Kerala state contained within a space measuring 50 feet by 15 feet, which was flooded with black peppercorns.

Vivan Sundaram, Terraoptics 088, Photography Gireesh G.V.

Vivan Sundaram, Terraoptics 088, Photography Gireesh G.V.

Additionally, there was a video that accompanied the installation entitled Black Gold, which Sundaram described in this way, in his artist statement published by the Singapore Art Museum on the occasion of the 2014 Signature Art Prize:

When the camera traverses the site, the dense formation takes on yet another visage: ‘dead’ matter unravels fresh terrain that is in its very fragility combustive. Animation created by a range of perceptual positions — camera movements from high above swoop onto details creating arabesques; top-angle views the plan, the map bring forth islands surrounded by water; the flattened image becomes a stained glass sky. Low angle shots, drag the viewer through the remains of human habitation.

The video image oscillates between showing a bed of detritus and an emerging gestalt that may be deciphered as history. A scene of devastation, a cityscape submerged in a cataclysmic spill– millions of floating peppercorns. Or is this meteoric patina covering another planet?

Vivan Sundaram, Terraoptics 210, Photography Gireesh G.V.

Vivan Sundaram, Terraoptics 210, Photography Gireesh G.V.

“Terraoptics”, the latest iteration of this work, has been reimagined as individual photographs, or miniature sets as described by the Gallery. The potshards have been removed from the spacious 50 by 15 inches layout and inserted in miniature into trays forming individual universes. This scale brings the viewer into a much closer proximity with the existence of ruin in the contemporary age. In these images, we see a landscape carved by a river, burning fire, and rich textures of red, brown and orange.

Vivan Sundaram, Terraoptics 321, Photography Gireesh G.V.

Vivan Sundaram, Terraoptics 321, Photography Gireesh G.V.

Sundaram invites us to contemplate the possibility for ongoing life so many thousands of years after what was a destruction. In the contemporary world, destruction is not associated with beauty. In Sundaram’s view, beauty both precedes and results from destruction. Light, an element on which life is dependent, persists over time, be it an energy within the land from which the potshards originate, or whether it is a force projected by the artist upon the found objects of the land to rejuvenate and resume physicality.

With “Terraoptics”, the focal point is land as found object. Land is something we take for granted. There is no conceivable way that it will cease to exist as always ‘being’. We know it is underfoot, we feel it. Terra firma is a fact we take for granted until like Muziris, it is suddenly no more. In “Terraoptics”, Sundaram has literally and figurative illuminated the land such that we are simultaneously remembering what and how it was while seeing it in its luminescent glory for the first time.

Negarra A. Kudumu

1739

Related topics: Indian artists, gallery shows, digital photography, video, installation, ceramics, events in New York

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“People, Money, Ghosts (Movement as Metaphor)”: curator Roger Nelson on Southeast Asian art – interview

The recent group exhibition at Jim Thompson Art Centre reflected on the increasing global mobility in the artistic community and beyond.

Art Radar explores the themes in the exhibition and talks about recent trends in Southeast Asian art with curator Roger Nelson. 

Installation of "People, Money, Ghosts (Movement as Metaphor)" at Jim Thompson Art Centre. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Centre.

“People, Money, Ghosts (Movement as Metaphor)”, installation view at Jim Thompson Art Centre. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Center.

From 7 March to 18 June 2017 Bangkok’s Jim Thompson Art Center held the group exhibition “People, Money, Ghosts (Movement as Metaphor)” with works from Khvay Samnang (based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia), Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho (based in Manila, Berlin and New York) and Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai (based in Hue, Vietnam). Curated by Roger Nelson, “People, Money, Ghosts” explores ideas and processes of migration.

The exhibition investigates how the migration of populations, industries, ideas, beliefs, technologies and aesthetics are adjusting concepts of the world and national boundaries. The works in the exhibition cross borders, are made in locations other than the artists’ so called “home” and question experiences of what it means to be of a certain place. The result is an experience that portrays the world in a state of constant movement and change.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, 'Day by Day', 2014-15, single-changel HD video, colour, sound, 58 minutes. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Centre.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, ‘Day by Day’, 2014-15, single-channel HD video, colour, sound, 58:00 min. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Center.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai explains how the practice of residencies is able to change perspectives and even approaches to creative production:

I think that the residencies, the traveling between different regions have made me care deeply and conscious my history and background better. The first few works in my career were realised within the spaces of studios, focusing on themes such as the human body and femaleness. My more recent works have expanded beyond the studio…Although the themes are history, society and experiences of immigrants, I have learned more about the history and the current social and political state that I’m living in.

Khvay Samnang, 'Rubber Man', 2014, single-chanel HD video colour, sound, 8 minutes 31 seconds. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Centre.

Khvay Samnang, ‘Rubber Man’, 2014, single-channel HD video colour, sound, 8:31 min. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Center.

Khvay Samnang’s works Yantra Man (2015) and Rubber Man (2014) explore experiences of movement in Cambodia, drawing from history – of Cambodian soldiers sent to fight for France in World War I and references to the long-standing rubber plantations in the region.

Khvay Samnang, 'Yantra Man', 2015, steel and engraved lead, 12 pieces, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Centre.

Khvay Samnang, ‘Yantra Man’, 2015, steel and engraved lead, 12 pieces, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Center.

The collaborating duo Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho created video sculptures evoking ghosts that leave their legs in the forest while their head and torso terrorise city inhabitants. This ghost can be found in the traditions of several nations in the region, such as Thailand’s akrasue, Cambodia’s arb or the Philippine manananggal. As Lien and Camacho explain in their exhibition text, the ghost is “a floating head with a slippery backstory; a shy predator auto-illuminating the swampy outskirts of the village; a shit-eater; a migrant in search of foul smells”.

Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho, 'Arb/Krasue +855 U NOTICE ME', 2017, ceramic, wig, stainless steel, projector with mount and mask, single-chanel HD video, colour, dimensions variable, 6 minutes 20 seconds. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Centre.

Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho, ‘Arb/Krasue +855 U NOTICE ME’, 2017, ceramic, wig, stainless steel, projector with mount and mask, single-channel HD video, colour, dimensions variable, 6:20 min. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Center.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai’s Day by Day (2014-17) is an ongoing project that documents the lives of stateless Vietnamese migrant communities living in floating villages in Cambodia and in Vietnam. She explained the origins of the project in detail to Art Radar:

At the beginning of 2014, I did a two-month residency at Sa Sa Art Project. Thus, I had an opportunity to befriend the undocumented immigrant community around Tonle Sap lake – Siem Reap. They told me stories about the history of the village, about their uncertain, unstable lives through wars and genocides, about their current living state. This led me to a deeper research that lasted for a year following the residency. I visited other villages in Kampong Luong, Sason, Kan Dieng, Pursat, I traced to the border areas between Vietnam and Cambodia, where Vietnamese immigrants from Cambodia are pouring to. This research helped me connect and reconsider the events of the past from different perspectives, understand their connections and impacts on the current social and political state.

The result is a one-hour video, a participatory installation and collaborative digital photographic collages installed inside a small hut.

Khvay Samnang, 'Katha', 2015, raw Cambodian cotton, engraved lead, 4cm x 4cm x 3,300cm. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Centre.

Khvay Samnang, ‘Katha’, 2015, raw Cambodian cotton, engraved lead, 4 x 4 x 3.3 cm. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Center.

Trends in Southeast Asian art

Art Radar had a chat with curator Roger Nelson about art practices and current trends in contemporary art in the region.

Can you explain a bit about how the exhibition came about and why it is important to have such an exhibition in the current context? 

The idea for the exhibition really grew out of my observations of the participating artists, as well as countless conversations with them, conducted over a period of several years. I noticed that travel and residencies were becoming increasingly important in their practices, and that this was also reflective of a broader trend among contemporary artists (especially of their generation), in Southeast Asia and beyond.

The invitation to curate this exhibition for the Jim Thompson Art Center presented an opportunity to participate in that institution’s very well-considered and quite deliberate programme, in these past few years, of turning to focus on the broader region of Southeast Asia. This continues Artistic Director Gridthiya Gaweewong‘s pioneering curatorial work with artists across the region, which began in the 1990s. I decided not to include any Thai artists in the “People, Money, Ghosts (Movement as Metaphor)” exhibition, but instead carefully considered the selection of works and their framing, to try to make the show relevant to its host institution and host city, and to engage with some of the ideas, aesthetics and discourses that are already circulating there.

Installation of "People, Money, Ghosts (Movement as Metaphor)" at Jim Thompson Art Centre. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Centre.

“People, Money, Ghosts (Movement as Metaphor)”, installation view at Jim Thompson Art Centre. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Center.

Outside Southeast Asia, curatorial attention to the region often tends to bind artistic practices to their location in Southeast Asia, in a manner which is often well-intentioned, but nevertheless can be quite reductive. Whereas inside Southeast Asia, despite an increasing focus on ideas of “regionalism”, there is a persistent (and indeed in many places increasingly resurgent) cultural nationalism, which among other things often functions to categorise artists according to what passport they hold. With this exhibition, I wanted to put pressure on the linking of an artist’s work and their place of origin, by presenting works that were made in locations far from the artists’ “home” cities. This in turn begins to throw the whole notion of “home” into question. By denaturalising the perceived link between an artist’s place of origin and their practice, I feel that a multiplicity of other interconnections and entanglements can emerge. These traverse numerous locations within and beyond the region.

These are some reasons why I felt that the exhibition project spoke to the contemporary moment, in terms of artistic and cultural discourse. But in addition to these, “People, Money, Ghosts” opened in a moment of worldwide political crisis, felt especially sharply through restrictions on human movement. Trump’s “travel bans” were in the headlines as the exhibition opened; moreover, it’s said that more people have been forced to flee their homes this past year than ever before in human history. As I suggest in the exhibition’s introductory wall text, the show is not made in response to the present political disaster; it is, however, in its shadow.

With people’s lives more mobile than ever, in what ways could artists play a role in making sense of and adapting to this changing landscape, particularly in Southeast Asia? 

While it is true to say that people’s lives are more mobile than ever, it’s also important to historicise this phenomenon. Within the exhibited artworks, we find numerous echoes of forms of mobility that are in fact decades or centuries old. For example, one of Khvay Samnang’s works addresses the rubber plantation industry, which began well over a century ago under colonial rule, and another of his works takes up the story of the Cambodian soldiers sent to fight for France in World War I, who have been largely forgotten.

Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho’s video sculptures make use of the figure of the manananggal/krasue/arb, a mythical being that is many centuries old, and can be found in locations across the region. And Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai’s hour-long documentary film presents the stories of dozens of stateless Vietnamese fishing villagers, who narrate their own families’ tales of migration between Vietnamese and Cambodian territories, some going back several generations.

Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho, 'Arb/Krasue +855 WE-B-2GETHER', 2017, ceramic, wig, stainless steel, projector with mount and mask, single-chanel HD video, colour, dimensions variable, 6 minutes 18 seconds. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Centre.

Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho, ‘Arb/Krasue +855 WE-B-2GETHER’, 2017, ceramic, wig, stainless steel, projector with mount and mask, single-chanel HD video, colour, dimensions variable, 6:18 min. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Center.

In the exhibition catalogue, I quote a text by the renowned Sri Lankan-American art historian and curator Ananda Coomaraswamy. In it, he writes:

Civilisation must henceforth be human rather than local or national, or it cannot exist. In a world of rapid communications it must be founded in the common purposes and intuitions of humanity, since in the absence of common motives, there cannot be cooperation for agreed ends.

As I note in the catalogue, these words could have been written yesterday, but in fact were first published 101 years ago, in 1916. Coomaraswamy could never have foreseen the scale and nature of the “rapid communications” that digital technologies have enabled today, of course. But we must also not forget that the migration of populations, goods and beliefs is not a new phenomenon, and that a sense of our world as undergoing rapid and unprecedented changes is not new, either.

Transnational mobility, rapid communications, and a sense of the world in flux are often imagined to be hallmarks of contemporaneity, but they are all defining features of modernity, too. This is revealed through historical research, of course, but also through a close attention to the work of the exhibiting artists. These works help us to make sense of today’s world, but I think they also reveal its deep links with the past.

I have also tried to draw out some of the historical dimensions of “People, Money, Ghosts” through a series of lectures (in Thai and English), which have accompanied the exhibition. These lectures have focused on historical and theoretical topics, and thus I hope offered various contexts within which the exhibited works can be considered.

Installation of "People, Money, Ghosts (Movement as Metaphor)" at Jim Thompson Art Centre. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Centre.

“People, Money, Ghosts (Movement as Metaphor)”, installation view at Jim Thompson Art Centre. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Center.

What trends have you noticed in the art scene in Southeast Asia in the past five years? 

I am not alone in remarking that residencies are becoming increasingly important, for artists in Southeast Asia and beyond. It is notable that most of the region’s major cities are home to residency programmes, and that these are often described – especially by younger artists – as playing a kind of educational role, often in a context of perceived shortcomings of other educational institutions.

The presence of history in contemporary art is also an important phenomenon in practices across the region. This is reflected as well in projects by the two Southeast Asian artists invited to participate in this year’s documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel. Thailand’s Arin Rungjang presents videos and installations reflecting on historical events of the 1940s and the 1970s, which took place in Germany, Greece and Thailand. Whereas Cambodia’s Khvay Samnang presents sculptures and a video which are informed by the continuing traditions of the Chong people, who are indigenous to highland and forested regions of Cambodia and neighbouring countries.

The importance of history in contemporary practices has also been remarked on by a number of scholars, such as Singapore’s June Yap (in her recent book Retrospective: A Historiographical Aesthetic In Contemporary Singapore And Malaysia). The journal, which I co-founded and co-edit, Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia, brings together historical research with writing on more recent art, but insists on a historically informed perspective.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, 'ID Card', 2014,heat transfer prints on recycled fabric, 340 pieces, each piece 5.7cm x 8.1cm, installation dimensions variable. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Centre.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, ‘ID Card’, 2014, heat transfer prints on recycled fabric, 340 pieces, each piece 5.7 x 8.1 cm, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Jim Thompson Art Center.

One aspect to this which has been less remarked upon in Southeast Asia-centred discourses is the spectre of art history within contemporary art. In “People, Money, Ghosts”, aesthetic histories are hinted at in each of the exhibited works. Khvay Samnang’s Rubber Man includes hand-carved wooden sculptures, which were inspired by those made by the highland people in Cambodia’s northeastern provinces. Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho’s works include references to pre-modern sculpture, in the ceramic sculpted heads, as well as citations of avant-garde designer fashions, in the garments worn by actors in the videos, and also in the accompanying catalogue text. And Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai’s Travels installation presents digital photographic collages that are made in homage to the form of decoration commonly found in the thatched homes of the villagers she worked with for the project.

These art historiographical impulses in the contemporary art of this region and beyond, while only hinted at in this exhibition, are something I hope to further explore in my next project.

Claire Wilson

1728

Related topics: Vietnamese artists, art and community, political, social, installation, art centres, events in Bangkok, feature

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Art jobs and opportunities | M+ Museum, Japan Society, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston… and more

Looking for new career options in the arts? Art Radar Opportunities is an archive of openings in the visual art world. 

Whether you are an artist or an aspiring curator, a market analyst or a scholar, Art Radar Opportunities has listings that will pique your interest. Every week we add new positions suitable for a variety of backgrounds and levels of experience. 

Reader offer! We’re offering free job listings to all of our readers. If you would like to advertise your opportunity to 25,000 visitors a month, fill out our Internships or Opportunities submission form.

New this week!

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OPEN CALL | London | Call for Artist | The Celeste Network – 30 June 2017

Celeste Prize is now inviting international artists, photographers and creatives to submit artwork for review by a jury of top art curators and critics. The Prize is dedicated to discovering new talents from around the world across all arts-related disciplines. Candidates will receive immediate online exposure upon entry, whilst finalists will be featured in a final group exhibition and a print publication. Six winners will receive up to EUR23,000 (approx. USD25,600) prizes and every participant is up for selection in the Prize’s 12-gallery benefits programme. Awards and the final exhibition will be held on 6-8 October 2017 at The Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf, London, during Frieze week. In its 9th incarnation, this year the award jury team consists of 13 art professionals, led by Fatoş Üstek, a renowned independent curator based in London. MORE HERE

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JOB | Hong Kong | Producer, Digital Programme (Video) | M+ Museum – 14 July 2017

Located in the renowned West Kowloon Cultural District, M+ Museum is seeking an experienced video producer to join the team. The incumbent of the position will be in charge of a range of digital production responsibilities essential to the Museum’s development and collection, such as developing video production briefs and project documents, shooting, editing and coordinating high-quality videos, and coordinating with external collaborators and stakeholders for general digital development outreach. The applicants are required to have at least 3 years of digital production experience, strong communication skills, and demonstrate fluent English and Cantonese and/or Mandarin language capabilities. Apply online with a professional CV and the link to a portfolio of recent work. Successful finalists will be invited to an interview within 4 weeks from submission closing date. MORE HERE

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JOB | New York | Multiple Positions | Japan Society – apply by unspecified

A nonprofit, nonpolitical organisation located near the United Nations landmark building, Japan Society is a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences seeking to understand and appreciate Japanese art and culture. The Society celebrates and cultivates a dynamic relationship between the people and business communities of the United States and Japan through a diversity of more than 100 events annually including gallery exhibitions, performing arts programmes, film festivals, speakers’ series and Japanese language school. Japan Society is currently offering the following three career opportunities: Chief Development Officer, Education Program Officer and Individual Giving Associate. In addition to specific skills required for each position, qualified candidates must be able to respect and commit to the Society’s diverse workplace as an Equal Opportunity Employer. MORE HERE

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JOB | Arizona | Multiple Positions | Scottsdale Arts – apply by unspecified

An exciting umbrella art organisation spanning three departments, Scottsdale Arts creates opportunities for visitors to experience the highest quality performing and visual arts the world has to offer. Focusing on educational public programming, the centre is divided into three parts: Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Scottsdale Public Art. All three departments are seeking the right applicants for a range of positions including Director of Public Art, Audio Visual Supervisor, Communications Manager, Director of Finance & Administration and Protection Services Officer. Whilst having different responsibilities and criteria, the applicants generally need to have at least 5 years of relevant working experience and Master level of educational qualifications. Online applications accepted only. MORE HERE

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JOB | Houston | Multiple Curatorial Positions | The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) – apply by unspecified

The MFAH is a multifaceted institution engaging with top quality traditional and contemporary art from across the United States and the globe. Comprising two gallery buildings, a sculpture garden, two art schools and two house museums for decorative arts, the Museum holds a collection of more than 65,000 works of art in a wide range of media. The Museum is offering 4 curatorial employment vacancies: Curator (Asian Art), Curatorial Assistant (Modern & Contemporary Art), Curatorial Assistant (Art of the Islamic Worlds) and Curatorial Assistant (Prints and Drawings). Each position has a separate job description for reference. The Museum is an equal opportunity employer dedicated to a policy of non-discrimination in employment without regard to race, creed, colour, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, genetic information, disability, or protected veteran status. To apply, e-mail jobs@mfah.org with an up-to-date CV and a completed MFAH Employment Application. MORE HERE

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Did you know that Art Radar runs its very own online art writing course? Click here to find out more about Art Radar‘s Diploma in Art Journalism & Writing.

Looking for more opportunities in the contemporary art world? For Art Radar’s complete list of jobs, internships, residencies, courses and open calls, click here.

Closing this week!

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OPEN CALL | Shanghai | Call for Curators | Power Station of Art (PSA) – 27 June 2017

The Power Station of Art (PSA) is calling emerging Chinese curators based anywhere in the world to submit curatorial proposals for the 2017 Emerging Curators Project. An exhibition and academic trademark, the Project is dedicated to exploring the potential of young Chinese curators and providing them with an open-ended platform for professional collaboration and development. The successful exhibition proposals will take place in PSA at the end of 2017 and last for 2 to 3 months. Apart from the exhibition, successful candidates might be offered the opportunity to participate in an overseas exchange programme to France in 2018. There will also be a touring opportunity for selected curators. All candidates and proposed artists must be of Chinese nationality or overseas Chinese born with a date of birth no earlier than 1st January 1977 (inclusive). All research fields, artwork media and subject matter are welcome. MORE HERE

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OPEN CALL | Helsinki | Call for Residency Applications | Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) – 28 June 2017

The HIAP is seeking international artists, curators and all other art professionals to apply for the 2018 residency programme to undertake open-ended research and experimentation without the requirement of finalised outcome. Taking place at HIAP Suomenlinna and HIAP Cable Factory in Helsinki, the programme offers three periods: March to May, June to August and September to November in 2018. Benefits of the residency include free accommodation and studio space, a working grant of EUR1,200 (USD1,345.92) per month, access to all studio facilities, opportunities to participate in local art events and contribute to cultural collaborations. HIAP welcomes applicants of all ages, nationalities, genders and modes of practice. Main criteria include English proficiency and 2 to 3 years of proven professional experiences or relevant higher education qualifications. MORE HERE

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This is just a sample of art world opportunities we gather each week. If you’d like to see more, click here to sign up for more information on how to get full access and feeds of opportunities.

Yokohama Triennale 2017 “Islands, Constellations and Galapagos” announces full list of artists

The Yokohama Triennale has announced the full list of 38 participating artists and art collectives and one project for its 2017 edition.

The 6th Yokohama Triennale will run from 4 August to 5 November 2017 at the Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No.1, Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall (Basement) and other locations across the city.

The logo of the Yokohama Triennale 2017. Image courtesy Yokohama Triennale.

The logo of the Yokohama Triennale 2017. Image courtesy Yokohama Triennale.

Founded in 2001, the Yokohama Triennale is opening its sixth edition in August 2017. In a recent announcement, the Triennale released its full list of participating artists, which includes 38 international individual artists and art collectives and one project at the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No.1.

Under the title of “Islands, Constellations and Galapagos”, the 6th Yokohama Triennale aims to open up possibilities for discussion around various issues such as isolation and connectivity, imagination and guidance, distinctness and diversity, among others. The concept of the Triennale seeks to consider ways in which to shape a better future in light of our current times of uncertainty, and to engage people across the world with imagination and creativity.

The logo for the 2017 Triennale was designed by creative lab PARTY, and was inspired by the World Turtle depicted in Hindu mythology. The image visual sets the cityscape of Yokohama on top of the Galapagos tortoise, and combines the Japanese traditional pattern of Kikkomon, or tortoiseshell, thus alluding to the title of the Triennale.

Ai Weiwei, 'Safe Passage', 2016. © Ai Weiwei Studio

Ai Weiwei, ‘Safe Passage’, 2016. © Ai Weiwei Studio

The Triennale’s theme was conceived by a Conception Meeting including the Triennale’s directors and art professionals and experts in different fields such as Suhanya Raffel (Executive Director, M+ Museum, Hong Kong), Sputniko! (Artist and MIT Media Lab Assistant Professor), Rikrit Tiravanija (Artist and Professor, Columbia University School of the Arts) and Washida Kiyokazu (Philosopher, President, Kyoto City University of Arts and Director, sendai mediatheque), among others.

A series of public forums entitled “Yokohama Round”, which kicked off in January 2017, offered a platform for conversations, discussions, contemplation, as well as the sharing of ideas surrounding the title of the Yokohama Triennale 2017.

Taking place across its main venues – the Yokohama Museum of Art, the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No.1 and Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall – as well as other locations around the city, the Triennale is directed by Osaka Eriko (Director, Yokohama Museum of Art), Miki Akiko (Curator / International Artistic Director, Benesse Art Site Naoshima) and Kashiwagi Tomoh (Project Director, Yokohama Museum of Art).

Mr., 'Tokyo, the City I Know, at Dusk: It's Like a Hollow in My Heart', 2016. © 2016 Mr./Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Image courtesy Galerie Perrotin.

Mr., ‘Tokyo, the City I Know, at Dusk: It’s Like a Hollow in My Heart’, 2016. © 2016 Mr./Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Perrotin.

Alongside the project entitled Don’t Follow the Wind at the Red Brick Warehouse, the full list of participating artists in the 2017 iteration of the Triennale includes, among others:

The artist’s works will explore the concept of the Triennale, which is inserted in a current landscape of global uncertainty, in a world rocked by conflicts and disputes, with refugee and immigration crises, and political transformations brought about by events such as Brexit. Our society is also undergoing great changes with the increasing amount of information inundating our lives and the impact of social networks, creating small “island universes” in our social fabric.

Zhao Zhao, 'Project Taklamakan', 2016. Image courtesy the artist.

Zhao Zhao, ‘Project Taklamakan’, 2016. Image.

As the organisers explain, the Triennale thus seeks to reexamine the state of global connectivity and isolation from various angles, with the artists’ works exploring among other things,

the archipelago-style existence of regions and cultural spheres; the world that is generally growing conservative; distinctive evolutions and diversifications that happen within the closed environments; and what kinds of potentials human imagination and creativity may manage to cultivate, faced with the world in which such conflicting concepts and aspects intricately and fluidly intertwine.

Considering this era as a “turning point”, the Yokohama Triennale 2017 aims to capture “the complexity, profundity, and nexus of the world that cannot be grasped merely through a digital perspective (the worldview consisting of 0 and 1)”:

With the courage of ancient sailors who sailed the open seas with stars as their guideposts and with human imagination that painted mythological images and wove narratives in the sky by connecting the stars, we hope to recapture them from multifaceted perspectives. The triennale intends, then, to provide the place where, together with a diverse range of people, we contemplate what we shall consider wisdom for our future.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

1745

Related Topics: triennales, museum exhibitions, Asian artists, event alerts, news, events in Japan

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“Inexplicable”: 18 young Chinese artists at Pearl Lam Galleries, Shanghai

Featuring 18 young Chinese artists, the exhibition explores contemporary creative practice in China.

Drawing form a range of contemporary as well as traditional references, the exhibition demonstrates the diversity of young artists in today’s China.

Wang Ji, Greedy201603001, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 78.5 x 108.5 cm (31x 42 3/4 in.). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Gallery.

Wang Ji, ‘Greedy201603001’, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 78.5 x 108.5 cm (31x 42 3/4 in). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.

From 17 June to 27 August 2017, Pearl Lam Gallery in Shanghai hosts “Inexplicable”, a group exhibition featuring 18 young Chinese artists. The show explores the varied practices of millennial artists and the society that influences them. Drawing from traditional as well as contemporary cultural references, the exhibition combines a range of influences such as social media, fiction and movies, magazines and daily life in a globalised world.

Cai Zebin, 'Lost Favor', 2017, Acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm (78 3/4 x 59 in.). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Gallery.

Cai Zebin, ‘Lost Favor’, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm (78 3/4 x 59 in). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.

The artists include:

  • Cai Zebin
  • Dai Chenlian
  • Ju Anqi
  • Liang Ban
  • Liu Mengxing
  • Pan Jianfeng
  • Shi Yiran
  • Song Chen
  • Tang Bohua
  • Tao Yi
  • Wang Ji
  • Wu Di
  • Xia Qingyong
  • Xu Dawei
  • Xu Xinwu
  • Yan Heng
  • Zheng Lu
  • Zhong Yunshu
Pan Jianfeng, 'Guaranteed Fresh 02', 2017, ink on paper, 34 x 45 cm (framed), 35 x 35 cm (13 3/4 x 13 3/4 in.). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Gallery.

Pan Jianfeng, ‘Guaranteed Fresh 02’, 2017, ink on paper, 34 x 45 cm (framed), 35 x 35 cm (13 3/4 x 13 3/4 in). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.

Pearl Lam Galleries’s Director explained that there are many challenges facing emerging Chinese artists:

I saw more struggles than trends. Social criticism is turning into individual spiritual experience, while symbolism is turning into pure vision. Tradition has been developed ideally and methodologically.

Liu Mengxing, 'From A4 paper to object-No.4', 2015, Newspaper collage on canvas, 50 x 60 cm (19 5/8 x 23 5/8 in.). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Gallery.

Liu Mengxing, ‘From A4 paper to object-No.4’, 2015, newspaper collage on canvas, 50 x 60 cm (19 5/8 x 23 5/8 in). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.

The artists are influenced by contemporary society, each creating their own point of view. Cai Zebin (b. 1988), Liang Ban (b. 1985), Liu Mengxing (b. 1990) and Pan Jianfeng (b. 1973) each use a dark sense of humour, manipulating the roles of people and objects, and exploring the relationship between the two. The works look at reactions when people are objectified, questioning daily life in society and consumer habits.

Ju Anqi, 'Grass Style No.16090', 2016, Acrylic on Canvas, 200 x 150 cm (78 3/4 x 59 in.). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Gallery.

Ju Anqi, ‘Grass Style No.16090’, 2016, acrylic on Canvas, 200 x 150 cm (78 3/4 x 59 in). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.

The paintings of Ju Anqi (b. 1975), Tao Yi (b. 1978) and Wang Ji (b. 1988) use abstraction as a way of examining symbolism in our culture. Ju Anqi creates grass painting using this grass script to reach back into ancient times, as grass is something that is durable and survives in spite of the many social and cultural changes. Tao Yi uses the shape of diamonds to refer to light in early civilizations, as well as the more contemporary decorative, and more ornamental, functions.

Tao Yi, 'Sunrise on the Nile 12', 2016-2017, acrylic on canvas, 54 x 40 cm (21 1/4 x 15 3/4 in.). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Gallery.

Tao Yi, ‘Sunrise on the Nile 12’, 2016-2017, acrylic on canvas, 54 x 40 cm (21 1/4 x 15 3/4 in). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.

Young artists also draw from film and literature in their work, reinterpreting older texts in a more contemporary context. Dai Chenlian (b. 1982) and Shi Yiran (b. 1983) both use this strategy, drawing from a classical Chinese ghost story from the Tang Dynasty and the more contemporary Dogville and Peacock films. Through these cultural artefacts they explore the facets of humanity.

Yan Heng, 'Reflection', 2011, oil on canvas, 100 x 200 cm (39 3/8 x 78 3/4 in.). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Gallery.

Yan Heng, ‘Reflection’, 2011, oil on canvas, 100 x 200 cm (39 3/8 x 78 3/4 in). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.

Wu Di (b. 1979) and Yan Heng (b. 1982) investigate the power of images through collages and mixed media, combining classical motifs and pop culture. Yan Heng uses irony in his paintings, taking subjects from daily life, emotions and his personal experience of living in a digital and consumerist world. He examines the objects in his life, bringing in aspects of the mechanical such as computer parts, fans or refrigerators. Through these transient objects that have a short shelf life, Yan Heng criticises the digital world in which experiences are replaced by digital devices. This fascination with the mechanical was in part influenced by growing up in an industrial town in the northwest of China, and he now uses several materials that were common in those factories.

Tang Bohua, 'The Country of Summer Insects', 2013, Animation Film, 16’30’’. Image courtesy Pearl Lam Gallery.

Tang Bohua, ‘The Country of Summer Insects’, 2013, animation film, 16min:30sec. Image courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.

While many young artists explore new media, others reach back to the origins of their traditions. Tang Bohua (b. 1986) for example was influenced by stories and imagery from Taoist temples from an early age, and these early seeds have worked their way into his creative practice. He was inspired by a statement from Daoist teachings Zhuangzi, which formed the basis of his work on display at the exhibition. He explains to SinArts Space (PDF download):

I’ve always had a passion for animation, but it was not my major. I liked painting and I studied printmaking at the Academy of Art in Hangzhou. The Country of Summer Insects has been my first experience as an author and director…the aesthetic is closer to old paintings.

In fact, this work is constructed from images created in the old style of fresco paintings on a total of 10,000 plasterboards. These plasterboards were scanned and edited into a film. He explains that “the process was long and delicate, sometimes the boards cracked”, but he persisted in order to maintain the impression of an older aesthetic within a modern format. Through this process, Tang connects millennia old Chinese traditions to the present.

Zheng Lu, 'Shore', 2017, Stainless steel, 150 x 150 x 160 cm (59 x 59 x 63 in). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Gallery,

Zheng Lu, ‘Shore’, 2017, stainless steel, 150 x 150 x 160 cm (59 x 59 x 63 in). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.

The two installations are from artists Song Chen (b. 1979) and Zhong Yunshu (b. 1990) who create site-specific works that extend the gallery space. Song Chen is known for creating installations using earth, while Zhong Yunshu focuses on the relationship between different materials.

Xu Xinwu, 'Reliance', 2014, Acrylic and Oil on canvas, 180 x 200 cm (70 7/8 x 78 3/4 in.). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Gallery.

Xu Xinwu, ‘Reliance’, 2014, acrylic and oil on canvas, 180 x 200 cm (70 7/8 x 78 3/4 in). Image courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.

The other artists study aspects of nature, such as Xia Qingyong’s (b. 1988) abstract landscapes or Zheng Lu’s (b. 1978) combination of Chinese calligraphy and splashing water, frozen in time, in his steel sculpture. Xu Dawei (b. 1980) and Xu Xinwu (b. 1984) also explore the nature of energy fields in the universe, a concept derived from ancient Chinese philosophy.

Claire Wilson

1733

Related topics: Chinese artists, painting, installation, gallery shows, photography, video, events in Shanghai

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“undated Nightskin”: French-Bangladeshi artist Chittrovanu Mazumdar at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey

Chittrovanu Mazumdar’s “undated Nightskin” evokes lightness and darkness in eastern India.

At Mana Contemporary until 26 August 2017, the exhibition by the French-Bangladeshi artist is part of the art space’s ongoing effort to create a programme that promotes inclusiveness and diversity, as an antidote to the current political climate in the United States.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, "undated Nightskin", 30 April - 26 August 2017, Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, “undated Nightskin”, 30 April – 26 August 2017, installation view at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Various landscapes inform the work of Chittrovanu Mazumdar, an artist whose childhood in Kolkata and Jharkhand has shaped his craft by attending to the histories embedded within their geographies, while maintaining a conceptual remove. Mazumdar began his career as a painter in the 1980s and 1990s, drawing upon his education at the Government College of Art and Craft in Kolkata, as well as lessons learned from his father, the Indian modernist painter Nirode Mazumdar who was an influential member of the Calcutta School.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, "undated Nightskin", 30 April - 26 August 2017, Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, “undated Nightskin”, 30 April – 26 August 2017, installation view at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Most recently, the artist’s site-specific installation entitled River of Ideas, which incorporates light bulbs, metal bowls and sound to evoke a sense of movement and mystery, was presented in the 2016 edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale curated by Sudarshan Shetty. Kolkata-based Mazumdar has presented solo shows within India and internationally, including the exhibition “And what is left unsaid” at MACRO Rome (2014); “Parcours St. German” in Paris (2012); as well as “New York”, presented by the Seagull Foundation for the Arts in Kolkata (2004); Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai; and Bose Pacia Modern in New York (1997). Group shows include “The Indian Parallax or the Doubling of Happiness” (2012) at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata; “Terrestrial Bodies” (2012) at 1×1 Gallery, Dubai; “Love is a 4 Letter Word” (2011) at Latitude 28, New Delhi; and “A Material Difference” (2011) at Paradox, Singapore.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, "undated Nightskin", 30 April - 26 August 2017, Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, “undated Nightskin”, 30 April – 26 August 2017, installation view at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

At Mana Contemporary, the artist presents “undated: Nightskin”, a work originally debuted in 2009 at 1×1 Gallery in Dubai, and later updated in 2012 as “…and undated: Nightskin” at Harrington Street Arts Centre in Kolkata, presented by 1×1 Gallery Dubai. The work spans various media, including installation, photography, sculpture and video, and incorporates a wide swath of material: fabric is juxtaposed with metal, and light – its absence and presence – permeates across the artist’s oeuvre. Digital photographs are manipulated and lit from behind, while large, bulky wheeled metal containers are swathed with flowers and images of flowers, playing on viewers’ expectations of the natural/industrial divide. “undated: Nightskin” is an exercise in contrasts and a negotiation of the complexity of experience, and the various ways in which sensory experiences shape perception.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, "undated Nightskin", 30 April - 26 August 2017, Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, “undated Nightskin”, 30 April – 26 August 2017, installation view at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Such a perceived experience, however, is doled out judiciously. In his artist statement, Mazumdar refers to the ways in which his work simultaneously invites and repels the reader, writing:

My work parcels out access in starts and pauses – like memories, they are not always available in their entirety. Photographs and objects are fragments of a missing whole. The layers of sound are essential to the works – auditory recordings are amplified and distorted to the edge of familiarity, like the whisper sounds to the eavesdropper. Our perception is warped by desire. Desire forms the spinal column of my work, connecting one flicker, one image to another – a desire that is unanswered and unrealisable – focusing on that which cannot be met, cannot be retrieved. Entry into a room that has been barred and blackened. We are barred because the time that has passed – though it rings and shakes the floors, it cannot be returned to. We are barred because the moment between sound taking shape and filling with meaning is infrathin, too bare to slice in half. We are barred because our vision is made up of blind spots, a series of black (w)holes of existence to which we have no reference.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, "undated Nightskin", 30 April - 26 August 2017, Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, “undated Nightskin”, 30 April – 26 August 2017, installation view at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, "undated Nightskin", 30 April - 26 August 2017, Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, “undated Nightskin”, 30 April – 26 August 2017, installation view at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Art Radar briefly interviewed Chittrovanu Mazumdar about his process and “undated: Nightskin”, learning more about how context shapes his art.

Could you briefly describe your motivation in making these installations that are quite dark in some ways?

It is not a motivation to make things dark. Is that how it is perceived? For me this is the language of my work. I work in many mediums and each one has its own way of existing. For example, if one does a light work, there needs to be a certain darkness to be able to perceive the light. Light which is also extremely minimal at times.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, "undated Nightskin", 30 April - 26 August 2017, Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, “undated Nightskin”, 30 April – 26 August 2017, installation view at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Materiality seems to play a big part in your work, and we would love to hear a bit more about the materials that you use in your works.

The idea dictates the choice of material at most times. I work mainly with metal, light, photography, sound, text, cinema as well as painting depending on what I am trying to do.
In the past I have worked with tar wax and light together. Sometimes it is yards and yards of textile. Mostly the exhibition and the works decide the choice of material.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, "undated Nightskin", 30 April - 26 August 2017, Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, “undated Nightskin”, 30 April – 26 August 2017, installation view at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

How would you say your installations relate to one another in the exhibition space – how do you anticipate viewers navigating through them?

There is a conceptual thread linking most of my works. I see the viewer physically negotiating different spaces and meandering through the works, which plays a lot with space and proximity of the work. Sound is also a very important element in my work. A lot of my works are sculpted with sound. It also forms a physical part of the work. The viewer has to sometimes negotiate the space, the difficulty of movement as well as sound.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, "undated Nightskin", 30 April - 26 August 2017, Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, “undated Nightskin”, 30 April – 26 August 2017, installation view at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

How do you as an artist think about the different landscapes of West Bengal and Jharkhand, and how do they inform your work?

For me both states are equally important. Both states, although so diverse, form a part of the geography and I have inhabited them since many years. I draw from certain diverse elements from both places for my work.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, "undated Nightskin", 30 April - 26 August 2017, Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Chittrovanu Mazumdar, “undated Nightskin”, 30 April – 26 August 2017, installation view at Mana Contemporary, New Jersey. Image courtesy the artist and Mana Contemporary.

Considering the artist’s expansive register of influence, informed by various geographies and histories, it is no surprise that “undated: Nightskin” is an immersive experience, one that suggests that there is always more to look at, more that requires attention and more than meets the initial glance.

Tausif Noor

1716

Related Topics: Bangladeshi artists, installation, gallery shows, interviews

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