Lygia Pape, Divisor (1968 - 2013). Photograph and façade print of a street performance, performed in Central, Hong Kong, 2013.
Opening: Wednesday, April 1, 6–7:30pm at Kadist SF, 7:30–9pm at The Lab
Exhibition Dates: April 1–May 9, 2015
Gallery Hours: Wednesday–Saturday, 2–7pm
This is two-venue exhibition, co-presented at:
The Lab, 2948 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 and
Kadist Art Foundation, 3295 20th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Artists: Ai Weiwei, Asco, Bernd Behr, Natalia Sui-hung Chan, Oscar Chan Yik Long, Yin-Ju Chen, George Chinnery, Megan Cope, Sergio de La Torre, Dung Kai-cheung, Larry Feign, James T. Hong, Rustam Khalfin, Henry Kiyama, Irene Kopelman, Firenze Lai, Lam Qua, Dorothea Lange, Lee Kit, Len Lye, Gabriel Leung, Ma Liuming, Paul McCarthy, Fionnuala McHugh, Moe Satt, Josef Ng, Nguyen Tan Hoang, Yoshua Okón, Pak Sheung Chuen, Lygia Pape, Para/Site Art Criticism Class 2003, Anand Patwardhan, Raymond Pettibon, Jack Spicer / Kevin Killian, Shooshie Sulaiman, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Adrian Wong, Ming Wong, Ricky Yeung Sau-churk, Samson Young, Zuni Icosahedron/Mathias Woo & Edward Lam
A Journal of the Plague Year was first shown at Para Site, Hong Kong during the summer of 2013. Conceived as a touring exhibition, its center of gravity shifts under the influence of magnetic forces in each location on its itinerary. Nevertheless, each iteration departs from and remains strongly connected to an exploration of the events that affected Hong Kong in the spring of 2003: the most significant airborne epidemic in recent years–the SARS crisis–coupled with the tragic death of pop figure and pan-Asian icon Leslie Cheung.
Stemming from its colonial past, Hong Kong has internalized a history of epidemics and representation as an infected land waiting to be conquered from nature, disease, and oriental habits in order to be made healthy, modern, and profitable. Culminating in the discovery of the bacteria causing the plague during an 1894 epidemic in Hong Kong, these narratives contributed to a dubious association of the disease with Asia, and heightened the infamous "yellow peril" racist discourse in Europe and America at the time. For example, San Francisco’s plague epidemic of 1900-1904 was centralized in its Chinatown, and was part of the same epidemic wave that affected Hong Kong. These facts, together with the virulent racism in California at the time, further intensified the association between disease and Asian populations.
Departing from these events, A Journal of the Plague Year navigates disparate but interconnected narratives in order to contribute to a critical discussion about recent history, the implications of which extend beyond Hong Kong and beyond the realm of medicine. Through the contributions of artists, shown alongside historical artifacts and pop-culture ephemera, the exhibition confronts fear of contamination (both physiological and cultural) and the projections and prejudices that emerge from societies that encounter alterity. The exhibition also gathers documentation of a selection of performances that have destabilized mechanisms of hatred and politics of differentiation, which are based on dehumanizing the body of ‘the other’. This experience is perpetually fabricated everywhere, especially in societies where immigrants were and are still frequently represented as pests, as a disease that sickens the homogenous social body. Each of these performance pieces, places the fragile but individualized human body on the frontline at various moments of historical transformation and rupture and in different corners of the globe: the identity struggles of Chicano communities in the US in the 1970’s; the highly insecure Hong Kong of the 1980s, foreshadowing its handover to Mainland China; China itself during its traumatic post-Tiananmen years; Singapore and the last chapters of the Lee Kuan Yew era; Kazakhstan at the dawn of nationhood and after the fall of the Soviet Union; and finally, Myanmar amidst its current transformation, under the specter of a possible democracy and growing rejection of Muslims.
Anti-Chinese sentiments, which are still strongly present in the public sphere of Hong Kong (its anti-Mainland China variation being one facet of the more general anti-Chinese complex), as well as in other parts of Asia, are addressed through a historical framework that includes the Western world’s anti-Chinese immigration prejudices during the early 20th century. California and San Francisco were deeply affected by these prejudices, through the history of Chinese immigration in relation to the Gold Rush, the 19th century railway construction in the Western United States, and the subsequent Chinese Exclusion Act. These events make this exhibition highly relevant in a context that has not entirely moved beyond the stereotypes of its past centuries, even as it finds itself ever more deeply entangled in an emerging Asia-Pacific geopolitics of power. The exhibition thus visits and revisits the traces of such prejudices in California today and their contemporary cultural significance, while considering a wider picture of immigration in the US and its current processes of othering.
Curators: Cosmin Costinas and Inti Guerrero
Research Collaborators: Marie Martraire and Xiaoyu Weng
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
7-9pm, readings start promptly at 7:30pm
$8 entry (no one turned away for lack of funds), free for members
Gregoire Pam Dick
Our Drunken Boat (from Metaphysical Licks)
Georg liked Rimbaud, read him to me, then our craft paper got soaked. Schwester stürmischer Schwermut/Sieh ein ängstlicher Kahn versinkt/Unter Sternen,/Dem schweigenden Antlitz der Nacht. Also on his bisexual p. 74 it went silver. Greta’s brother Lukerl liked young men such as the thin French-Arab one, olive skin, dark curly hair, name him Hassan. Olive notebook the building she could build for her brother in the forest of the city of her head, it would be whole and simple. Except fragmented and complex. Leaves lit the window. The question about truth relative to the prose poems. Correspondence versus something else. Two features rejected which Greta or Gregoire wants back: correlation of language and world, importance of first person singular. Lukerl beautiful when young, and he and Gretal went into the forest. Lemon dots on white shirt. Reality if and only if poetic. Novalis’s magical thinking fights the analytic death grip. Supposed to redevelop my muscles, but I like my arms to be ’70s slender. Philosophy once an academic discipline. Leiden nicht. Now it’s a toy vessel. A paper boat. Or origami. The seas of language also folding in.
Grasping a signless
piece of light that was going to stand in
To connect to
this, achieve the kinds of things that we expect
from flowers (what becomes dark
is bright now; what’s bright
to looking agitated) They are like
us: We know
that we are going to be photographed.
wondering: Can I use your cave? Your cave
will be the cave in the allegory of the cave; here it is
outlined in greenish brightness
Shouldering (from Limbinal)
we’ll slowly unfasten incessant roots, wind, foliage
sprout on our shoulders where the slow can’t take root
skirmish of the great azure boulevards
if i stir depends on you
luminous shoulders, silent and with gestures, flaunt the incessant
a despair similar, where is the firmament?
if tonight i summon you will the season be hourless?
if i shoulder your season’s nights will the hourless summon?
though lacking a handrail, i flood the house with spectacular pleasure
hand pointing to yesterday’s hour, embracing all hours, a time much larger,
offer my shoulder, translucent with this exploratory season
waves flood, sleeves hoist, scramble up a bloom, sprout a shoulder scorched
a leafed wing rambles hearing your answer
the only constellation gashing at dawn
Gregoire Pam Dick (aka Mina Pam Dick, Jake Pam Dick et al.) is the author of METAPHYSICAL LICKS (BookThug, 2014) and DELINQUENT (Futurepoem, 2009). Also an artist and translator, Dick lives in New York City, where she is currently doing work that makes out and off with Büchner, Melville and Michaux.
Frances Richard is the author of Anarch. (Futurepoem, 2012), The Phonemes (Les Figues Press, 2012) and See Through (Four Way Books, 2003). She writes frequently about contemporary art and is co-author, with Jeffrey Kastner and Sina Najafi, of Odd Lots: Revisiting Gordon Matta-Clark’s “Fake Estates” (Cabinet Books, 2005). Currently she teaches at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
Exploring the infinite social, political, intimate possibilities of language through poetry, translation and sound work, Oana Avasilichioaei has published four poetry collections (including We, Beasts, 2012 and feria: a poempark, 2008) and four translations of poetry and prose from French and Romanian. Her newest poetry collection, Limbinal, a hybrid, multi-genre work on notions of borders, which includes new translations of Paul Celan, and a co-translation with Ingrid Pam Dick of Suzanne Leblanc’s The Thought House of Philippa are appearing in spring 2015. Though she lives in Montreal, she frequently crosses borders (www.oanalab.com).