Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen — Container Artist Residency

Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen (b.1981 Jerusalem, Israel; b.1981 Leuven, Belgium) are London based artists working with systems of industrial production. They work across sculpture, installation and film to explore production processes as cultural, social and political practices.

Cohen and Van Balen both graduated from the Royal College of Art, London. Their work has been exhibited at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary,Vienna; Fotomuseum, Winterthur; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; HKW, Berlin; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo among others. It is part of the permanent collections of MoMA, New York; and M+ Museum, Hong Kong.

Link to artist website

Hong Kong → Nansha → Singapore → Port Klang → Colombo


At Sea

Enter behind the curtain and we’re at sea, alongside 19 men and 4000 containers full of (electronic, car, animal) parts, heading to Nigeria. One contains frozen tilapia fish now crossing the sea above the water. We are in a parallel universe, the backstage of everything, deep in the world’s id.

On a ship called Dignity (echo the Glaswegian karaoke anthem), we live in the electrician’s cabin, and are therefore both known as “electrician” on the bridge. Sometimes we wonder where the real electrician is. The Captain shows us black and white photos of his grandfather in the mouth of a whale in Odessa. He denounces the sea every day.

Before departure we spend a few nights at the New Don Franc hotel in Guangzhou, where African exporters buy, pack and ship Chinese products and components. All day and night the soundscape of packing tape is crackling around cardboard boxes being prepared to be packed into steel containers.

At sea the war on entropy never ends, the ship is continuously and constantly repainted in patches of grey, black and yellow. We bring led-strips from China, an indigenous component to this route, and let it spread onto the body of this steel whale; the electronic particles sparkling alongside the sun reflections on the waves.

Nobody wants to go to Africa, anxiety levels gradually rise and the ghosts of pirates are on everyone’s minds. On the way back the containers will be empty, except for maybe some diamonds.










Hong Kong Harbor

Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen departed from the port of Hong Kong on April 9, 2016, after being delayed for a day due to smog in the Hong Kong Harbor.