THINKING CURRENTS (SEATTLE ART FAIR 2015)


THINKING CURRENTS

A signature exhibition of video, film, & sound by artists based in The Pacific Rim and beyond!

Curated by Leeza Ahmady
As part of Asia Contemporary Art Week (ACAW), Curatorial and Educational Platform
July 30 – August 2, 2015
At the Inaugural Seattle Art Fair

Jawshing Arthur LIOU (Taipei & Indiana). Crossing, 2009, single-channel video, color, sound, 5 min. Courtesy of Chi-Wen Gallery

THINKING CURRENTS foregrounds the immediacy of experimentation with moving image, particularly video and film, by some of today’s most compelling contemporary artists, whose practices also variously relate-to and problematize the cultural, political, and geographical parameters of The Pacific Rim.

The exhibition activates Seattle’s geo-economic position in the Pacific Northwest, United States as a significant new arena for transnational connectivity with creative communities based around the rim of the Pacific Ocean, and other regions of the Global South. THINKING CURRENTS consciously underscores individual art practices while examining common denominators, collective manifestations, themes, and occurrences to stage the intensity of the wide range of interlacing inquires launched by artists in recent years. Beyond broad exploration of aesthetics and formal representations, works considering bodies of water, migration, environmental conditions, identity, nation-building, conflict, technology and stagnation within the various liquid and land territories of East and Southeast Asia are especially explored.

THINKING CURRENTS refrains from engaging in overarching statements in an effort to yield fresh and nuanced contextual stratum. It raises numerous questions in search of unexpected connections, undercurrents and reflections to facilitate visibility for a great knowledge base of historical and contemporary insight. Ultimately, through critical inquiry into the making and thinking about art within the specificities of The Pacific Rim, which includes three of the world’s major continents: Asia, Australia & America (North and South), THINKING CURRENTS seeks to contribute to a rethinking of global contemporaneity.

Participating Artists & Collectives:
Monira AL QADIRI (Kuwait City & Tokyo) • Burçak BINGÖL (Istanbul) • Patty CHANG (Boston) • Tiffany CHUNG (Ho Chi Minh City) • Alexis DESTOOP (Sydney & Brussels) • Jun NGUYEN-HATSUSHIBA (Ho Chi Minh City) • HO Tzu-Nyen (Singapore) • KATO Sawako (Tokyo) • KHVAY Samnang (Phnom Penh) • Lee KIT (Hong Kong & Taipei) • Charles LIM (Singapore) • Jawshing Arthur LIOU (Indiana) • Tracey MOFFATT (New York & Brisbane) • QUI Shiming (Beijing) • Araya RASDJARMREARNSOOK (Chiang Mai) • Wael SHAWKY (Alexandria) • SUN Xun (Beijing) • Patrick TODD (New York) • Charwei TSAI (Ho Chi Minh City, Paris & Taipei) • Alexander UGAY (Almaty) • Tintin WULIA (Brisbane & Jakarta) • Jamie ZIGELBAUM (New York) • Polit-Sheer-Form Office, artist collective: HONG Hao, XIAO Yu, SONG Dong, LIU Jianhua, LENG Lin (Beijing) • MAP Office: Laurent GUTTIEREZ & Valerie PORTEFAIX (Hong Kong)

THINKING CURRENTS: Liquid Territories & the Flux of Myths, Dreams and Reality
Keynote Discussion – Saturday, August 1st, 3:30 – 5:00 pm

THINKING CURRENTS Curator and Asia Contemporary Art Week Director Leeza Ahmady in conversation with Hong Kong-based artists and  architects Map Office: Laurent Gutierrez and Valérie Portefaix.
A keynote discussion on the role of the Pacific Ocean, historically and today; mapping a set of interlacing inquiries by contemporary artists around pressing environmental and geo-economical concerns within and around the Pacific Rim territories (Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia etc.) in connection to the Pacific Northwest and the world at large.

Supporting Institutions
Aike-Dellarco Gallery • Asia Art + • Bauer Audio • Chi-Wen Gallery • Edouard Malingue Gallery • FuturePerfect
Hanart TZ Gallery • Lisson Gallery • MABSOCIETY • Mizuma Art Gallery • Osage Gallery • SA SA BASSAC • Tina Keng Gallery (TKG +) • Transfer Gallery • Tyler Rollins Fine Art

> PRESS COVERAGE FOR THINKING CURRENTS

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Works on View in THINKING CURRENTS

Monira AL QADIRI (Kuwait City & Tokyo)
SOAP, 2014, single-channel video, color, sound, 8:10 min.
The figure of a maid is superimposed onto scenes from Gulf-region television dramas, creating a depiction of reality generally erased from representations of popular culture and the central role that South Asian migrant workers play in maintaining daily life in class-based societies, prevalent also within the developed nations of the Pacific Rim.

Burçak BINGÖL (Istanbul)
Self-conscious, 2015, single-channel video, color, sound, 1:31 min.

With her subtle yet destructive act, the artist interrogates notions of belonging, culture, history, and tradition, also read as homage to ceramics— a treasured Asian-continental artistic practice and symbol of wealth, widely spread through Western imperialism.

Patty CHANG (Boston)
Invocation for a Wandering Lake Part 1, 2014, single-channel video, color, sound, 12:47 min.

Using water as a medium of politics and poetics, the artist gently bathes the corpse of a beached sperm whale, and an abandoned ship, in an act of ablution and mourning; a meditation on the detrimental environmental effects and traumatic legacies of colonialism, capitalism, and globalization. Filmed on location at Wandering Lake Xinjiang, China, sea coast of Newfoundland, Canada, Aral Sea Muynak, Uzbekistan.

Tiffany CHUNG (Ho Chi Minh City)
the great simplicity thousands of years before and after, 2012, split-screen video, color, sound, 9 min.

Two post-apocalyptic scenes imagine an allegorical fantasy, where languages (Japanese and English) are mutated and Western Enlightenment’s faith in progress, science and rational thought has come to an end. Inspired by theories on nomadism and science fiction, Chung’s vision is hopeful. Like Noah’s Ark, destruction leads to creation and the possibility of a better future. Courtesy of Tyler Rollins Fine Art

Alexis DESTOOP (Sydney & Brussels)
Invocation, 2015 single-channel video, color, sound, 4 min.

A cyclical animation that combines photographic footage from two vastly different regions: the Arctic Ocean and the South China Sea. Man-made machinery, invoking present-day idols, subtly emerge from an enchanted Turner-esque seascape of fleeting horizons. An investigation into the cartography of globalization— and the myths, realities, and dreams associated with our planet’s primordial yet last frontier: the ocean.

Jun Nguyen-HATSUSHIBA (Ho Chi Minh City)
The Ground, the Root, and the Air: The Passing of the Bodhi Tree, 2004-2007, single-channel video, color, sound, 14:30 min.

Influenced by the international markets of neighboring countries, China and Thailand, the quiet Buddhist society of Laos struggles to maintain itself in the midst of the ever-flowing Mekong River. Ambition for individual success continues to surge while traditional values and heritage wane. The stadium, lanterns, river, and Bodhi Tree symbolize the anxieties and hopes of this rapidly-evolving society.

Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam: Towards the Complex—For the Courageous, the Curious, and the Cowards, 2001, single-channel video, color, sound, 13 min
A woeful, beautiful poem memorializing survival in post-war Vietnam conveyed through an underwater performance by local fishermen propelling cyclos (or cycle-rikshaws) across the rock-strewn and sandy ocean floor. After the war, countless citizens fled by sea; for many who remained, pedaling cyclos became their primary means of livelihood, yet these vehicles, now deemed old-fashioned, have become a burden on the country’s image in its ongoing effort to modernize. Courtesy of Mizuma Art Gallery

HO Tzu-Nyen (Singapore)
The Cloud of Unknowing, 2011, single-channel video, color, sound, 28 min

Explores the aesthetic history and role of cloud imagery in art through eight compartmentalized vignettes, titled after a fourteenth century mystical treatise on faith, in which the cloud represents a simultaneous internal struggle and reconciliation with “the unknown” or the divine. Set in a deserted, low-income public housing block in Singapore, each subject encounters a sudden shift, transformation or illumination, which he or she must comprehend through sensory response and emotion, rather than logic and rational thought.

KHVAY Samnang (Phnom Penh)
Untitled, 2011, single-channel video, color, sound, 4:22 min

Once vital to urban hydraulic systems and vibrant residential areas, Phnom Penh’s lakes are now privatized by the Cambodian government, filled with sand, and turned into contested eviction sites. In rebellious response and to create awareness, the artist stood in these lakes at different stages of their “development,” to pour  buckets of sand over his head. His poignant gesture serves as a document for posterity of this complex environmental, infrastructural, and humanitarian concern. Courtesy of  SA SA BASSAC

Lee KIT (Hong Kong & Taipei)
There’s a cup on the pillow, 2014, single-channel video, color, silent, looped, white towel, 3:23 min.

Portraying everyday objects through his usual language of visual poetry, Lee Kit offers a model of resistance and constraint. The video-installation courts both intimacy and detachment, suggesting that artistic practice and life often merge in unexpected and transformative ways. Courtesy of Aike-Dellarco Gallery

Charles LIM (Singapore)
SEA STATE 6: Phase 1, 2015, 7:13 min

A society created by maritime trade, colonial and modern, Singapore stands at the intersection of pressing global debates around resource use, environmental change and territorial sovereignty. This dramatized cinematographic video, commissioned for the Singapore Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, documents the newly-unveiled Jurong Rock Caverns, a gargantuan facility for hydrocarbon storage. Built by a state-owned corporation, these extraordinary geo-engineered underground spaces will soon be filled with oil and never seen like this again. Courtesy of FuturePerfect

Jawshing Arthur LIOU (Taipei & Indiana)
Crossing, 2009, single-channel video, color, sound, 5 min.

This immersive and textured landscape of turbulent waves in a storm meditates on the loss of the artist’s beloved daughter. Rendered through 3D modeling techniques to simulate realistic ocean movements, the process combines formal oil painting and animation to render what Liou refers to as “mindscapes,” or reservoirs of emotion. Courtesy of Chi-Wen Gallery

Tracey MOFFATT (New York & Brisbane)
LOVE, 2003, single-channel video, color, sound, 21 min.

A wealth of clips from Hollywood classics are merged to depict the stereotypical, hyperbolic trajectory of (heterosexual) love. From the subtleties of first desires to climactic scenes of impassioned dialogues, betrayal, revenge and violence repeatedly played out over the history of film, Moffatt unites the graphic punch and suggestiveness of these stories to create a narrative of her own for the sake of parody, entertainment, and critique. Courtesy of Tyler Rollins Fine Art

QIU Shiming (Beijing)
Fragments of Autumn, 2007-2008, 3-channel video, black and white, sound, 10:26 min

Made in response to the famous handscroll of Yuan-dynasty master artist Huang Gongwang, Qiu filmed a particular landscape along the Fuchun River over the course of an entire year, a site known for its dramatic scenery among poets, writers and painters throughout China’s history. The subtle and masterful editing of the looped footage renders a contemporary visual poem, full of movement and transition. Courtesy of Hanart TZ Gallery

Araya RASDJARMREARNSOOK (Chiang Mai)
Death Seminar B, 2005, 18 min

The artist is engaged in a Q&A session with lifeless bodies obtained from a morgue. Universally, death is hidden behind elaborate rituals, while science and medicine pursue its delay. Here the artist asks us to both expand our imagination and confront preconceived notions. Her delicate, sincere, and humorous interactions draw from Buddhist principals to propose value in continued closeness between the living and the dead. Courtesy of Tyler Rollins Fine Art

Wael SHAWKY (Alexandria)
Dictums: Manquia I, 2014, HD video 16:9 ratio, silent. 11:10 min

Historically, camels contributed to worldwide trade-economy, until land routes were abandoned for oceanic transportation, through The Pacific Rim. These rare and coveted dark breeds of camel, however, are perhaps en route to one of the prestigious camel parades or beauty pageants held in the Gulf region. Shot on location near Abu Dhabi, Shawky’s serene and majestic video charts patterns of physical, economic and intellectual migration. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery

SUN Xun (Beijing)
What Happened in the Year of the Dragon, 2015, 10 min.

This animation recounts key events that occurred during the year of the dragon, one of the most important years in the Chinese calendar. Emblematic of Sun Xun’s oeuvre, the film acts as a theatre of memory, replete with shuttering sequences and jarring juxtapositions of surrealistic and recognizable images, which collectively serve to scrape the uncontested surface of politicized truth. Courtesy of Edouard Malingue Gallery

Charwei TSAI (Ho Chi Minh City / Paris / Taipei)
Tofu Mantra, 2005, video. 2 min

Charwei Tsai utilizes ink and a variety of media in her politically engaged, performative practice. In Tofu Mantra a Buddhist scripture about the nature of impermanence is written onto a block of tofu, which transforms through various stages of decay, expressing the ephemerality of nature and thought.

Ah, 2011, HD digital video with sound by Zai Tang, 5 min.
The chanting of “Ah,” a sacred sound embraced in many religions of the world, is written in ink on water to celebrate the spiritual diversity of Singapore. Conceived for the occasion of the “Tapestry of Sacred Music” Festival.

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Alexander UGAY (Almaty)
Earth & Shape, 17:20 min

A video-collage combining disparate architectural landscapes from different cities (Astana, Karaganda, Almaty, Tashkent, St Petersburg, Seoul, Istanbul, Sophia) onto a single plane, disregarding notions of east-west and north-south to relate to a more-personal mental geography that resists shape. Giant, phantomlike figures appear, eerily resembling monuments of the past: ziggurats, towers, pyramids, and antique temples, to warn of history’s tendency to repeat. Courtesy of Asia Art +

Tintin WULIA (Melbourne)
Fallen, 2011, single channel video, color, stereo, looped. 18:43 min.

Examines the skepticism and unsteady faith that nation-states have in their citizens, and their constant dependence on documentation in order to trust people. Documentation is crucial to history, however. It asserts the realness of events in the past. Fallen is a part of the artist’s body of works on border and chance. Neither documentation nor documentary, the work is based on a somewhat-real event, dramatized with repeated sequences and sentimental music. “The impossibility of tracing a sequence of events is the impossibility of tracing what is real.” Courtesy of Osage Gallery

Jamie ZIGELBAUM (New York)
Sequence in Parallel, 2015. LCD Displays, Raspberry Pis, Software, Cables, Hardware, 32 × 68 × 20 in.

We watch films over time, from start to finish, but that is not how we remember them. Details fade, leaving us with an impression of the film-object itself. Sequence in Parallel is one complete film split-up into 20 segments that play simultaneously on a loop, allowing viewers to glimpse the entire film object as a whole, essentially exploring memory as collage.

Pixel, 2013. Interactive Light Sculpture (Glass, Corian, LEDs, Electronics, Software), 100 × 100 × 8 cm.
Pixel is an interactive light installation activated by human touch. Ubiquitous and invisible, pixels have increasingly become part of our everyday lives. Tiny, formless objects acting as ambassadors to the digital world, representing carefully-choreographed fluctuations: pulses of current that result in changes of color which in aggregate form graphics and with time produce the illusion of motion. Courtesy of Transfer Gallery

Polit-Sheer-Form Office – artist collective: HONG Hao, XIAO Yu, SONG Dong, LIU Jianhua, LENG Lin (Beijing)
Do the Same Good Deed, 2014, single-channel video, color, sound, 8 min.

A public performance in Guangzhou, China in 2014, which examined notions of individualism and collectivism, concerned with the idea of ‘we’ in a ‘me’ world. The piece presents a new Socialist order for the 21st century, within a society that has moved away from its traditional, collective ideals. A humorous edge underlies all works by the group—their name, “Polit-Sheer-Form Office” is translated literally as the “office of pure political form,” meant to sound like an absurd governmental bureau. Courtesy of MABSOCIETY

MAP Office (Laurent GUTTIEREZ, Valerie PORTEFAIX, Hong Kong)
Island is Land, single-channel video, color, 30 sec. loop

An island is never about the production nor the origin of things, but rather about the possibilities of reproduction or second-origin. The sailor who first spots an island after a tragic journey will be shouting “land!” and not “island!”. The video explores islands as anomalies through semiotic ambiguity; as land that is both opposed-to and reliant-on water for its existence.

Moving Lemuria from the Indian to the Pacific Ocean, 2015, Installation (seashells from Sanibel Island, plastic particles, drawings)
Lemuria (Mu), variously located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans—a hypothetical lost continent, with its long-debated myths, legends, and histories, is re-envisioned as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, first identified in the 1990s. Made of floating debris, it is the world’s biggest landfill, moving slowly, clockwise, along with a spiral of currents. Mu is therefore a continent in-flux, manifesting the *Anthropocene era in the form of a giant plastic garbage vortex in the North Pacific region, just above Hawaii and facing Seattle. * The beginning of humanity’s destructive impact on Earth’s ecosystems.

Patrick TODD (New York)
Micro-intergalactic communication, a compilation of sound works, 1 hour 15 min.

Todd is interested in computer generated noise that approximates human emotional experience. His sound is not played, but triggered through algorithms, manipulated and tweaked in real time. Virtual synth music is an opportunity to expand the landscape of sound with novel recombinations of waveforms.

KATO Sawako (Tokyo)
IS.LAND, sound work, 6 minutes
A delicate soundscape using field recordings of sounds in Yakushima, an island in the south part of Japan covered in dense forest with nearly 2,000-year-old cryptomeria trees.