From 7 June to 7 October, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo presents Tell Me a Story: Locality and Narrative, an exhibition, curated by Amy Cheng and Hsieh Feng-Rong, organised by Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo with the support of the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai.
Tell Me a Story: Locality and Narrative
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin
Curated by Amy Cheng and Hsieh Feng-Rong
7 June – 7 October 2018
From 7 June to 7 October, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo presents Tell Me a Story: Locality and Narrative, an exhibition organised by Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo with the support of the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai.
Continuing its commitment in presenting contemporary art from other regions of the world, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo is proud to introduce Italian and International audiences to a series of works reflecting artistic developments across Asia and to further develop its dialogue with the communities there, enriching the Italian context in which the Fondazione is placed.
Tell Me a Story: Locality and Narrative draws on artists from across Asia to share 12 stories from distinct regional cultures as they have evolved throughout the modern era. Through the exploration of personal ties between artist and environment, each work exhibits multiple facets of local life, revealing in the process a side of Asia often left unseen and unheard. Though originating from different locations and cultures, these stories harmonise with one another as much as they contrast. For, though each work expresses a different saga, they nonetheless manifest a deeper, shared history, bringing to view the full complexity of existence “on the ground” for contemporary Asian societies.
Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, President of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo: “I am glad to present the exhibition Tell Me a Story as the second chapter of the collaboration between Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai. Tell Me a Story constitutes a unique opportunity for our public to understand the changes happening in Asian countries today through the lens of twelve exceptional artists and works of art. With this exhibition, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo joins forces with one of the most cutting-edge institutions dedicated to contemporary art to further reinstate its mission to support artists from all over the world whose research is vital to understand the world in which we are living and the art which is produced nowadays”.
Life on The “Borders”
The exhibition begins with Apichatpong’s video installation Fireworks (Archive), in which the viewer is taken on a surreal night-journey through a temple on the border of Northern Thailand. Sudden bursts of incandescence from flashlights and fireworks light up the macabre and desolate statuaries of the temple. Described by the artist as a hallucinatory memory machine, these light explosions recall the fires of war which ravaged the region when it was suppressed by Bangkok and bombed by US military during the 1970’s.
Japanese photographer Tomoko Yoneda tours the uninhabited island of Sakhalin, employing conceptual photography to capture the eerie history of its past life. Once a home for manufacturing workers and their families, the island was seized by Soviet forces following World War II. Though the families were relocated, the factories remained. Through the photographs the artist captures the juxtapositions between the island’s past and present status: beautiful and serene but nonetheless devoid of human life.
Let the Water Flow by Field Recordings charts the unstable existence of migrant workers on the banks of Suzhou Creek and Huangpu River in the urban metropolis of Shanghai. One part of the piece presents a review of scholarly studies focused on the relationship between man and environment, life and water, while the other follows the workers in a vignette of field studies, revealing their tenuous relationship with a globalising economy.
Narrative beyond Space and Time: Revisiting, Imagination, and Reconstruction
Though the fates of people are inscribed within geographical and national boundaries, it is no less true that the land and its contours are determined by its people. While some of the pieces in the exhibition revolve around histories and structures located in space and time, others exhibit the very real connection between people and land through fictional projections into the past and future. The force of imagination and the potential of the future are no less important than the facts of history, or of physical limitations, in transforming landscapes both great and small.
One way of bringing this relation to light is through refashioning the very physical lines themselves. Hong Kong is Land by MAP Office is an installation that presents a virtual map of a “future” Hong Kong, including several new islands and detailed specifications for buildings, factories, homes and botanic gardens. Hong Kong is Land is a “prophecy” for Hong Kong, elaborating its future ecology, territory, economic system and collective living situation.
In contrast, Grand Voyage: A study on Name looks to the past. Artists Guo Xi and Zhang Jianling go on a sea voyage to discover the origin of the name for the Blue Hydrangea. Videos and found objects are woven together to tell a story based on no solid geographic place or time. By reconstructing locations through the conduit of imagination, both works explore places and histories in a radical and penetrating way.
New Possibilities of Narrating
For the second iteration of this exhibition, the curators have invited three new artists to join the procession of storytelling, investigating different possibilities of narrating. Through animated shadow boxes, teak bed and an experimental hand-animated film, Lucy Davis brings us a theatre-like installation reflecting her ongoing political-economic interest in the macro-ecological changes that have taken place in an island in Southeast Asia since the 19th century, in particular the depletion of the forests and coastlines on the archipelago.
Chen Po-I’s tile mural is inspired by the murals at the popular sightseeing spot of Largo da Sé, in Macau. Tourists take pictures in front of those murals but rarely know the stories behind it, considering it only decoration. Made by the local government after Macau returned to China, the murals propagate Portugal’s colonial history. Using a special glaze, the artist depicts significant historical events on the tiles which are only revealed when cool water is splashed onto them. As such, these fleeting images explore the dislocation of ideology over the course of history.
The video installation Spirit-Writing from Hsu Chia-Wei presents an unusual dialogue between the artist and the frog god Marshal Tie Jia who, according to legend, was born in a small pond more than 1,400 years ago in Jiangxi, China. The local villagers communicate with the frog god through a unique divination chair ritual, during which the divination chair shakes violently under divine orders and proceeds to hit against the altar table and write down commands decreed by the divine power. Hsu applied motion capture technology in a film studio to document the movements of the divination chair which was then post-produced into a 3D animation.
The 12 works in Tell Me a Story: Locality and Narrative manifest both a remarkable diversity and a common narrative. Close and personal examination of displacement and belonging, geography and culture, accumulated history and dreams of the future, characterise the artists’ moods and methods. The result of the connections between their pieces is the emergence of a greater panorama – just as suggestive and perhaps, uncertain, as their respective subject matters, though surely no less the profound for it. The exhibition provides a meaningful context for engaging with the difficult issue of preserving, as well as discovering, local identity in the midst of larger social forces. In that sense, it should not fail to resonate with any viewer who dares to meet its challenge.
Artists in the exhibition: Au Sow-Yee, Chen Po-I, Lucy Davis, Guo Xi and Zhang Jianling, Hae Jun Jo and Kyeong Soo Lee, Hsu Chia-Wei, MAP Office, Field Recordings, Su Yu-Hsien, Koki Tanaka, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Watan Wuma, Tomoko Yoneda.
Notes to Editors
About the Collaboration between Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Rockbund Art Museum
Tell Me a Story: Locality and Narrative is the second part of the collaboration between Rockbund Art Museum and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Walking On The Fade Out Lines: Works from Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection, was presented at Rockbund Art Museum from 24 March to 27 May, 2018.
The collaboration was born out of a mutual desire to promote art projects and education programmes that decentralise their existing contexts in order to promote unexpected artists, practices and topics. Challenging themselves to develop their local and national scopes into a global scope, these leading international art institutions have co-produced two collective exhibitions in order to unfold the multiple perspectives of researching and supporting contemporary art, beyond the usual standards and categories of art. Sharing the same vision and mission to support artists and curatorial projects, the two private art organisations practice co-operation by offering to their respective audiences two different exhibitions that aim to open debates on the way to discover art practices, to welcome diversity, and to extend contexts for a better contribution to the development of contemporary art.
About Rockbund Art Museum
For over eight years Rockbund Art Museum has been at the forefront of the growing contemporary art scene in China, presenting world-class programs in a unique museum setting. A boutique museum of the utmost quality, RAM holds a unique position within Shanghai’s continually expanding cultural scene. The museum is located within the Bund district and housed in an exquisite heritage Art Deco building, which was renovated by the architect David Chipperfield before opening in 2010.
The museum’s exemplary curatorial, education and research programs showcase acclaimed and emerging Chinese and international artists, responding to and reflecting on present and urgent challenges of society locally and internationally. RAM presents a bold and pioneering program of three exhibitions and a special project “RAM HIGHLIGHT” per year, exploring and realizing artists’ most ambitious projects and working with them to tailor exhibitions to the Museum and to the Shanghai context, often with a large proportion of works being new commissions. RAM devises, produces and curates its program in-house, in conjunction with carefully selected international collaborations of the highest quality. For more information, please visit: www.rockbundartmuseum.org
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