Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cityzening: On exhibit


In this exhibit, Cityzening, the artists shares their views, their own definition, and their own questions of their cityzenship.

The works are grouped in three main themes to represent three actors or factors in cityzening—In this site focuses on space; Crowding source on people; and Source crowding on ownable things.

In this site…
“The street offers casual encounters, the possibilities of engagement, the adoption or relinquishing of a personality (…)” —Malcolm Miles, 1997

MICHAEL LEE, After human, 2011. These photographs speculates on the fiction of post-human world. The images of collapsed buildings made of 3D models, sometimes with the hand of the artist alluding a pseudo divine intervention of a carer or a destroyer, explores the issues of what will happen to the world without human as well as the continuation of human spirit. The artist notes that: “The word ‘After’ in this series title refers as much to the time beyond the present as the payment of homage and the relentless pursuit of a better world.” [with reference to show in 2011 with the same title at Give Art Space, curated by Tolla Sloane].

MIDEO CRUZ, Terra incognita, 2009-ongoing. This work is comprised of three world maps. One map is a blueprint of the world map accompanied by a bag of price tag stickers, spray paint and a stencil screen with the words “terra incognita” (translated in Filipino). Audience are encouraged to fill the map with price tag stickers until the whole blueprint has been covered. Two other maps are fully covered with stickers, which suggest how the boundaries are blurred if not actually merged. This work demonstrates how man contribute in knowing the unknown territories and revising it to its own likeness

MARK SALVATUS, Model City (Phase III), 2012. The project is a series of construction / reconstruction. Manila is under a very massive development – especially in the realty sector and this is the jump-off point for the project. While walking in different malls and establishments the artist collected brochures of site constructions that were given to prospect buyers- people usually throw this away. Mark used these brochures; cut them out and made into a construction site. These condominiums also reflects the people’s desires and aspirations to live in a comfortable place amidst the chaos of the city – you can see them in the copy ad of the brochures- like “Live the life you Love” or “Elegant living in the city” – this copy is then recorded as a voice over that is part of the installation.[First seen in Ateneo de Manila University for the show Territories (2012) and Short Memory in Drawing Room Singapore (2012)].

JASON WEE, A Plan for 38 Pyramids, 2012. The drawing brings the viewer to peep in a hole to screen what appears to be a plan to erect a new fictitious cityscape; a vertical horizon that borrows temperament from ageless fascination over Mayan prophecies and alienology. This work brings us further to reflect on the unrivalled sophistication of ancient building technology and compared it to our almost faux permanent, if not actually ephemeral vertical cities.

SONG MING ANG, ACDC Lane Melbourne, 2010. This work is a photographic record of music posters found in an alley of the same name in Australia. AC/DC Lane was named in honor of Australian rock band AC/DC in October 2004. How AC/DC Lane in Australia got its name is a manifestation of people's affection to music/musicians that it materializes or translated into a physical city space. Much like how most streets are named after heroes.

The artist recalls how he came to create this project in this short note: “I went to ACDC Lane in Melbourne, like how a tourist in Japan would try to take a photo of Mount Fuji – it's a sort of simple, almost naïve pilgrimage. I didn't know what I would find, but one of the things I found was that there wasn't only graffiti of ACDC, but also music billboards of other bands. It was like a polytheistic holy ground set in a small, rough-looking lane. The music billboards interested me because they weren't really supposed to be there...”

FRANCIS YU, Iron Road Barrier Made of Plastic, 2012. The road barrier is now made of colourful plastic. It is no longer metallic although Hong Kong people still call it “Iron horse”. The iron horse is an icon of the streets as its image and name is synonymous to infrastructure maintenance and development. As an inspiration to art making, Yu recognized that he has a mundane fascination to the iron horse because of its form and color that is attractive as much as it is utilitarian.

In the context of cities, iron horses or however the road barrier is called locally are “progress indicators”, its quality, condition, design, uniformity somehow tells us whether a city is moving up or forward, going backward, or in a state of total neglect or abuse.

TANG LING NAH, Finding a home, building one and tearing one, 2012. Places where we stay, what we call homes have now turned into commodities and subject of investment and monetary transactions. Buying property now becomes an indication of wealth, a status symbol of city-dwellers. A house in no longer just a roof to protect us from the exterior environment. This work confront the viewers with the prevalence of such ‘housing transactions’. The newspapers used on this installation are housing advertisement collected by the artist from Manila and Singapore. The fragility of paper and the impermanence of charcoal symbolize the ephemeral state of our homes and buildings in the city (an inevitable situation of urbanity). Today it is here, but on the next day, it may be gone!

URICH LAU, Video Car: Vision Collision, 2012. The city is a stagnant pool if without a system of mobility. Mobility begets communication and interactivity of ideas and thoughts. Without communication and interactivity, contemporary art would fail to grow and stays in stagnancy. The work is from a series of interactive video installations that utilizes cars and transform them into “video boxes” with the windscreens used as video displays. Cars and automobiles are an essential element in the modernization of the city, as much as a bane to the environment. It could be one of the greatest man-made dilemmas. Video Car: Vision Collision is a work that looks into the dilemma between the proverbial beauty and chaos.

TANG KWOK HIN, Reminiscences of the Eastern Capital, 2012. This project is inspired by a record for a period of history about Kaifang in Northern Song Dynasty under Emperor of Hui-tsung. The Book mentions that there are more than 100 different stores situated in the center of the city. This is the time truly contending and prosperous.

This 3-channel video shows scenes from downtown Hong Kong where chain-stores are opening and small boutique stores are closing, the former overlaps the image of the latter. It is a the artist lament on the changing of guard of the consumeristic universe. The artist asks: “Does trading behaviour in stores form a major part of human living culture, as well as values of the public? It means that personality (like commodity) can gradually be worn down.”

Crowding source…
“The city is not a map, but a three-dimensional lived space.” -Madalina Diaconu, 2011

RUTHAIRAT KUMSRICHAN, Family Trapunto: Blanket of Love, 2009; Mountain of Love, 2008; Yai Om, 2009. Kumsrichan’s works are labor intensive as it involves arranging, stitching, and embroidering patterns, drawings and other textile materials together to form a formative abstract portrait of her chosen subject—family. The artist has been reflecting on love and warmth of family relationship that is usually associated with the countryside. Her choice of more a painstaking and time consuming technique, embroidery and trapunto, is an irony against the fast track pacie of city life.

TAM WAI PING, Dream, 2012. This is an installation of photograph of a soldier and a policeman sleeping, mounted on a aluminium sheet and shot by 9mm gun. The artist reflects: “Dream is something that not quite understandable but everyone want to find out what it is, whereas the reality is something too palpable that you don’t want to deal with it daily...... then what is the truth?” Does a solider is a patriot? Is it a lifetime career? Is a tool for the national machine? Has become a privilege class? Is a father of his children? Is a husband of a wife? Wake him up from his dream by using violence, he shall think about before to use the power of force.”

HO SIU KEE, Aureola Series – Mongkok, 2012. This work is comprised of digital prints where the artist is featured on top of a platform apparatus/sculpture, a photo of him was taken on one of the most famous shopping landmark in Hong Kong. The artist reflects that: “Our bodies have been experiencing extension in the functional sense…the wheel as extension of foot, book as extension of eye, clothing as extension of skin, electric circuit as extension of central nervous system (McLuhan, 1967). As a living being capable of activity and possesses gesture, the body is also the object of perception. This manifests the communicative function of the body. Putting the body in a specific setting, using the senses as the contact point and taking the perceptual world as the field of imagination is often the basic requirement for creation and interpretation of works of art.”

THOSAPOL BORIBOON, Wrinkled head, Hole and Swallow, 2012. Constant and consistent use of internet confuses the artist which coordinate he actually belongs. It can be said that this is an evolution of the social being becoming a netizen, a subculture of cityzen. They live in a world without physical boundaries and identity. It is highly influential to the existence of life in the present. In this series, painted are structures representing the image of the invisible highway where the netizen traverses. The “concrete”, “physical” or “multidimensional human” showed entering a fragile, complex but familiar space; men hanging on at the same time living within data, either processing or stored in memory, waiting to be accessed.

WANTANEE SIRIPATTANANUNTAKU, International curator, 2012. This piece is a variation of earlier interactive video work that elaborates on the artist’s fascination or curiosity over people’s obsession with “bagging” international recognition. Wantanee’s recent projects contribute the more robust aesthetic experiences questioning the myths and metaphors in contemporary culture. She conceptualizes her works from the inclination among Asian contemporary art in which many artists seem to overwhelm with the idea of national identity and shared discourse on the role of western culture in the formation of Asian societal structures. In this way the audience have to find answers to questions about the meaning and purpose of the art works.

PREEYACHANOK KETSUWAN, Dream Girl, 2012. The artist demystifies the illusion that modern society enables women to enjoy equal opportunities with men. She brought the unease a little further by confessing that other women can be a source of oppression as much as men. Being a Buddhist, the artist takes relief that she can choose what or who she will be in the next life. Surprising enough, she will still choose to become a woman. For next life time, the artist dreams that she would not need to cry and mumble; that she her struggles as a poor girl in a society will be alleviated. She dreams that next time, she will be heard. She is hopeful that one day a female will speak, do and protect ourselves.

JITTAGARN KAEWTINKOY, Conversation of Terrorist Leader, 2012. Societies evolve. Capitalism has its chance for power in specific social structures. It could be a source, a base or a major player; it could be coming from the West; but could also be coming from the East now. In this work, the terrorist leaders are masked in what appears like a ninja suit to make them anonymous—they could be anybody or nobody. All type of powers is in pursuit of resources and benefits; but sometimes they are simply in “pursuit of integration in the global settlement." In various guises the capitalist interference causes wars, depletes natural resources, and complicates human relations for the sole purpose of profit. This was represented in this work by depicting the terrorist leaders on the act of drinking from straw, sucking the very air that surrounds them.

WARAWUT TOURAWONG, Man Under the Chair, 2012. In his painting, the man or the chair could be upside down. Living in a city is like playing musical chair, except that you are only playing with yourself and going around a single chair. This is how the artist illustrates that truth is not only relative; it is by far one of the most abstract thought a man could think of. It is teasing between original understandings, the position of man, his mannerisms, and how meanings are conveyed. According to the artist, “there is no one set of truth, because after all the set or the truth might be both abstract.”

LUKE CHING, Cockroach (from the Folk Art Series), 2011. Every society with a long history has its own folk art. It is the result of wisdom of people living there. Hong Kong lacks of original folk art due to its relatively short history. Folk art series aims to develop a form of folk art that is originated from the modern Hong Kong experience by developing a unique skill of making cockroach and spreading the skill to as many people as possible.

WESLEY VALENZUELA Untitled work, 2012. This work revolves around the idea of assimilation, specifically on how people tend to lose their inner identity by way of adapting to the dictates of the environment (social, political, spiritual, material, etc etc). In relation to this concept, the artist will work on found objects in creating hybrid forms (human/mechanical, animal/human, etc) in depicting the various state and outcome of human transformation.

Source crowding... 
“The spectacle is the present model of socially dominant life. It is the omnipresent affirmation of the choice already made in production and its corollary consumption.” -Guy-Ernest Debord, 1967, 1971

ANTON DEL CASTILLO, Bargain, 2012. In this project the artist attempts to simulate through installation a bazaar booth, Bugis (Singapore), Chatuchak (Bangkok), Tsim Shat Sui (HongKOng) and Greenhills (Manila). On the booth are bags made of metal plate and video projection of vendors. For the artist experiencing this type of setting enables him to reflect on choices associated with desires and necessities. Proliferation of fake or imitation of luxury merchandise professes that branding as an effective tool for social positioning.

BLACK BAROQUE COMMITTEE, Do Not Send These Dangerous Goods, 2012. Black Baroque Committee through their imaginary Red Herring Postal Service critiques the First World’s attempt to save the world by sending relief goods, as much as they send arms to the Third World. They claim that it is a condescending gesture instead of alleviating the misery or resolving the problem.

IRMA LACORTE Compressed Can, 2012. Canned goods are staple of kitchen cupboard in cities. In this work, the artist drew compressed cans, photocopied on two reams of paper and stacked on a pedestal that has been wrapped with cans. Typically people do not problematize this problem because we focus on how to prosper. Viewers are encouraged to take a copy of the drawing, not as a memento but an advertisement for audience to ponder how much rubbish we produce everyday that we tend to ignore, despite reminders of proper waste disposal.

JOO CHOON LIN Resolution of Reality, 2012 and Travelling Matte, 2012. These videos are artist’s reflection on how nature correlates with nature, like how water fall is similar to a printer spewing out printed paper. According to Choon Lin much of her work draws upon ideas and imagery relating to natural and man-made environments. She is inclined to bringing the narrative potential of landscape and its relationship to technology and environment.

VICHAYA MUKDAMANEE, Re-Assembling of Three Closets, 2012. This is a documented performance of how the artist. He literally re-assembled the furniture to create different sculpture pieces. For the artist furniture such as lightweight closet is an object or an icon of the portability of city living. He chose pieces that were made of cheap material, its low quality production disguised by using colors as an additional statement or critique of the portable type of living that is prevalent in the city.

ESTHER YIP LAI MAN Taste of the City, 2012. Toys with the idea of pop-up food to relate to the city. Our memories of habitation and travel are commonly populated by what we ate, how it tasted like, how different was it from what we are used to, how similar it is from what we have. Next to sight, taste maybe the most loaded sense in a city. This work attempts to represent gastronomic exploration of cities.

MIMI TECSON At Home, 2012. This assemblage is a suitcase filled with small objects in small compartments. It is composed like a doll house. The objects are those usually associated with house or home. This work reflects on how we are all citizens of the world, and wherever we are regardless of race or country, we meet kind people who nurture us and treat us as family or who’ll make us feel at home. It is as if all that we need to survive really can fit into a suitcase.

JAFFA LAM Micro Economy, 2008-ongoing. This work is a product of a continuous collaboration of the artist with Hong Kong Women Workers’ Society since 2008. This group of women were former seamstress that who were part of the Hong Kong’s work force during manufacturing boom in the 1970’s and 1980’s. They were displaced when the city-state started to restructure. Most of them now work as part-time cleaning ladies. The project is for them to assist the artist in constructing a “meditation tent”. The tent is an “asylum” made of recycled umbrella fabric. Much as the materials were recycled, enabling seamstress to once again sew is another form of recycling. The tent therefore serves as a shelter, a space of refuge, a temporary destination that can stop all kinds of time. The tent therefore is a project of redefining collaboration, from 'producing' to 'serving and providing'.

In the end the artist asks: Does transforming these discarded objects – broken umbrellas – into functional forms and usable things serve to reorient perspectives for an audience considering what do we need? And what do we not? Is it the issue only for us, citizen in metropolitan?

The city that we walked on might not be the same city that is will be tomorrow or next year or later. Our walk, our talk, our train rides and hawkers center feasts might mean something else. Nothing wasted. Friends gain. Life lived. And like a well-worn cloth, the city has constantly to be re-made (McEwan, 1993 in Miles 1997).


Erik Swyngedouw (1997) ‘The Specter of the Phoenix—Reflections on the contemporary urban condition’ in Bosma K., Helliga H. (eds.) Mastering the City I, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam/EFL Publications, The Hague/Distributed Art Publishers, New York.

Erik Swyngedouw and Maria Kaika (2003) The Making of ‘Glocal’ Urban Modernities: Exploring the Cracks in the Mirror’, City: Analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action 7(1): 5-21.

Malcolm Miles (1997), “The City”, Art, Space and the City: Public Art & Urban Futures. London, US, Canada: Routledge

Gerardo Mosquera and Jean Fisher, eds., Over Here: International Perspectives on Art and Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004

Madalina Diaconu (2011) “City Walks and Tactile Experience”, Contemporary Aesthetics, Vol.9.

Guy-Ernest Debord (1967, 1971) The Society of the Spectacle. Paris: Champ Libre.

Erik Swyngedouw (2004) “Globalisation or ‘Glocalisation’? Networks, Terretories and Rescaling,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 17(1) April, pp25-48.

Jan Suchacek (2008) “On the Emergence of Glocalisation” Munch Personal RepEc Archive Paper,