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Initially, I was pondering for this issue of Pipeline the notions binding together the ideas of leaving or exile, not as categories but as gestures and states of mind. The idea of artists in exile mostly describes those who have fled their country because of wars or oppressive regimes — while we don’t tackle the
migrant crisis in Europe here, it casts a long shadow — and who can’t go home. Exile can mean rebuilding one’s life and practice, constantly revisiting and reliving memories while growing older somewhere else, filtering both old and new experiences through a combined set of references.
I eventually asked our writers and interviewees to reflect on various sub-themes, among which “home away from home” rang a bell with them all, as did some others that I discuss below. The art scene is undeniably cosmopolitan and often explores issues of dislocation. Directly related to exile, artist Marya Kazoun, based in Venice, whose personal history involves fleeing war-torn Lebanon, explains how her various migrations (Lebanon, Canada, the US and Italy) ended up informing performative, sculptural work that recycles materials and transcends emotions in an archetypal journey of re-creation. In a brief essay on Vietnamese artists Danh Vo and Nguyễn Xuân Huy, Berlin-based academic Bùi Kim Đĩnh notes the transformational values of art making and its national-representational qualities that mirror both the personal and public experiences of exiles. Writer Valerie C. Doran in Hong Kong provides a nostalgic description of the work of various Chinese artists who deal with dislocation and change: Kith Tsang, Ducky Tse, Yeh Wei-li and Chen Zhen.
Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, from the Philippines, fittingly mention that their country is one of migrants: 10% of the country’s population lives overseas for economic reasons, and most of the Aquilizans’ work deals with issues of being away and coming back, or “memory and travelling”, another sub-theme of an issue that I have ended up vaguely referring to as being about the Here and There. For this issue, the Aquilizans introduce their working-travelling mindset and some of their most recent work.
The sub-theme of “land imprints” was prompted by the traces people attach to their old or new realities. These gestures can draw so much from the physical: in art, that often translates as using clay — must be the kneading and rubbing. Interestingly enough this found an echo in the works of Julian Abraham, aka Togar, from Medan, Indonesia (Indonesian artists use nicknames alongside their birth names). I met Togar a few months ago in Jatiwangi, Indonesia at JaF (Jatiwangi art Factory), an artist commune/collective that organises socially engaged projects with workers from a local roof-tile factory with the aim of enriching the social fabric of the region and enhancing local pride. Togar reflects on what he took from his estranged residency and how he’s planning on applying it back home.
It also found a more individual resounding, in the letter-turned-fable we feature by another artist from the Philippines, Wawi Navarroza, who while she was living in Spain lost all the work she was patiently gathering for an exhibition at the conclusion of a residency. Her letter to a friend avoids dates and time frames, focusing on the creative process, and the shock and emotional evolution and growth prompted by an intense experience in an alien land.
“Mother” as an abstract idea also relates to home, to where one comes from, and that was another prompt. Thai artist Chai Siris is currently engaged in research at the border between Myanmar and Thailand, and is also deepening his understanding of his personal history and linking it with those who surround him: his mother — who was a Burmese refugee, though she kept it secret until recently — and strangers who become friends and sources of inspiration. He has written a film script set at the border; we publish it here along with the images he took on one of his research trips.
Curator Khai Hori, a Singaporean now working at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, candidly answered my exploratory and sometimes simplistic cues about moving around. We can learn plenty from his original curatorial approach, or rather from the state of mind that nourishes a multidisciplinary perspective to art making, and extends the confines of the art scene — a refreshing, inspiring introduction to further possible discussions and exchanges.
Grace Chan is back with a casual review of Paul Pfeiffer’s show at Galerie Perrotin Hong Kong, and I certainly enjoyed Jeff Wall’s works at White Cube Hong Kong.
On the Back Page, we are thrilled to publish an original poem on the Here and There by New York-based gallerist and writer Ysabelle Cheung.
最終，我聽畢雜誌作者和受訪藝術家對各個副題的意見後，大家均對「家外的家」以及下述提及的幾個副題額外有共鳴。毫無疑問，藝術界匯聚來自世界各地的藝術家，亦時常探討「身在異鄉」的主題。來自黎巴嫩的藝術家.Marya Kazoun，親身經歷過流亡體驗，從飽受戰火摧殘的家園奔逃至加拿大、美國和意大利。她現時定居紐約，將各種物料循環再用，創作富原創性的雕塑，通過行為藝術跨越界限抒發情感。而位於柏林的藝術學院Bùi Kim Đĩnh發表一篇關於越南藝術家Danh Vo.和.Nguyễn Xuân Huy.的短評，提及他們的作品表達出個人與公眾對流亡的感受，亦體現了藝術創作多樣的價值，以及越南獨有的特色。身處香港的作家Valerie C. Doran.則撰寫關於曾德平、謝至德、葉偉立和陳箴這幾位中國藝術家的作品，以緬懷的口吻逐字道出這班藝術家離鄉背井或面對變遷時的創作。
是次也找來另一位菲律賓藝術家Wawi Navarroza，作品更能引起大家共鳴。 她在西班牙求學期間，不斷四出攝影，累積作品，打算舉辦展覽為西班牙的生活畫上完美句號。然而，她有一朝不幸地丟失這些日積月累的心血。Navarroza與朋友往來的書信沒有寫下日期和時間，風格就像一則則寓言，內容主要描述創作過程，還有在外地受的文化衝擊，以及隨之而來的情緒變化和成長。
於一個家。泰國藝術家 Chai Siris 目前在緬甸和泰國交界處蒐集靈感。與此同時，他更了解自己的心路歷程，亦更了解身邊的人，包括他最近才公開身分是緬甸難民的母親，還 有那些從陌生變親近的朋友兼靈感泉源。 本期會刊載 Siris 較早前寫下的電影劇本，以這泰國和緬甸交界為背景，並附上他其中一次旅程所拍的照片。
我採訪新加坡藝術家兼巴黎東京宮博物館館長.Khai Hori時， 問他遊走於世界各地的經歷和得著，他耐心並坦誠地一一回答。 不論是他策劃展覽時獨樹一幟的立意，還是心態，我們都能從中學習到如何在藝術當中匯聚多元領域，豐富其內涵；同時怎樣跳出傳統框架，為藝壇注入新血，激發嶄新思維，促進更多討論和交流。
Grace Chan.亦會回顧.Paul Pfeiffer.於香港具浩登畫廊的展覽，當然還有Jeff Wall於香港白立方的大型攝影作品展。