Hong Kong: Creative Operational Solutions — Container Artist Residency

Creative Operational Solutions 

Para Site, Hong Kong
Dec. 10, 2016 – March 5, 2017

Opening Reception: 9 December, 2016, 7-9pm, Talk at 6:30pm
A conversation between Prem Krishnamurthy, Cosmin Costinas, Maayan Strauss, Tuur Van Balen, Tyler Coburn and Christopher Page, moderated by Freya Chou

Para Site is proud to present Creative Operational Solutions, the first exhibition to emerge from Container Artist Residency 01, an artist-in-residence program by artist Maayan Strauss that takes place onboard commercial cargo ships. Container Artist Residency 01 and the following exhibition are realized in partnership with ZIM Integrated Shipping Services.

Curated by Prem Krishnamurthy and Cosmin Costinas, the exhibition features works by Container Artist Residency 01 artists Mari Bastashevski, Tyler Coburn, Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Erin Diebboll, Ferenc Gróf, Christopher Page, and Samson Young, who present works in response to voyages onboard ZIM Integrated Shipping Services vessels, alongside artworks by James T. Hong, Zheng Mahler, Guo Xi & Zhang Jianling. Materials related to Hong Kong’s early history as a major shipping port and its role in the opium trade are presented in a historical section curated by Qu Chang, which also features work by Sawangwongse Yawnghwe. Framing the entire residency program, its financial underpinnings, and conceptual structure, a further “meta-display” makes transparent the logistics of the project.

Responding to both the residency and the conditions of increasing globalization, the projects explore technology’s effects on geopolitics, the linguistics and semiotics of maritime shipping, the role of the artist as laborer, individual and collective memory, collaborations with industrial entities, and surveillance, among other themes. Erin Diebboll’s serial drawings on paper imagine the contents of shipping containers within a highly-articulated, minimal language of representation. Christopher Page’s project, in which trompe-l’oeil panels form the faces of a shipping crate, pushes the limits of visuality in its tightly-organized structure. Tyler Coburn’s works draw poetic connections between resonant frequency, global finance, and logistics through a series of off-site performances, a downloadable .zip file, and an ingot made of bullet lead on display in the exhibition. Ferenc Gróf hijacks the semiotics of global maritime shipping, creating a graphic intervention that exposes the systems and nomenclature underlying the industry. Mari Bastashevski introduces a mirrored box that recorded its onboard surroundings during the artist’s residency and that continues its recording within the exhibition space, while Samson Young’s soundscape drawings capture his journey on a container ship by way of graphic scores that playfully represent language, aural stimuli, and time.

In addition to these works, several artist groups take on the history and politics of trade in different ways. Embedding themselves within the global supply chain of the abalone shell, Zheng Mahler, a collective based in Hong Kong, explore the history and politics of the porcelain trade through a collection of small-scale objects. London-based Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen employ the industrial process of electroplating in the production of a “seascape” onto stainless steel panels using metals excavated from the Democratic Republic of Congo to be used in electronics manufacturing in China. These are accompanied by a film collage drawing fragmented connections through material, place, and time from both sides of the Indian ocean. Taking the viewer on an epic voyage through spaces both real and imagined, Guo Xi & Zhang Jianling present a series of collage works around cyber-futurity. Finally, a two-channel video installation with ephemeral objects by James T. Hong plays as a counterpoint to the other works, performing the history of maritime commerce in Hong Kong with a focus on the opium trade.

The works produced by the seven residents of Container Artist Residency 01 are the starting point of this exhibition. Identifying the shipping industry as a driving cultural and economic force in the contemporary world, the program creates a space for artists to explore their practice within this context. Container Artist Residency is conceived as a distributed artwork in the form of an institutional and operational residency that foregrounds global commerce as the artist’s own immediate work environment.

The seven artists-in-residence were selected by the curator of the first edition, Prem Krishnamurthy, together with a jury consisting of Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Niels Van Tomme, and Xiaoyu Weng. The selected resident artists were invited to travel with a cargo vessel on a route of their choice, and provided with an onboard studio space, accommodation in a ship’s cabin, an honorarium, a return travel allowance, and a production budget with which to produce work. Through this next phase of the project, the artworks created will be shown in a traveling exhibition that extends the journey begun by the participating artists to multiple audiences.

On the weekends before and after the opening, he will conduct a series of off-site performances—each for just a single person. (For more information about attending, email tyler.coburn@gmail.com.)