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, April 21, 2015
7-9pm, readings start promptly at 7:30pm
$8 entry (no one turned away for lack of funds), free for members
from HOLIDAY INN
on the ceiling I drew something
to delete an end
it could describe black
and pass through text, like reading
on vacation, veering from a series
lying on the floor
a symptom of the universe
as common as the beach
The description of oneself as “sturdy”
The field patterned after that which has received it
A daisy pattern, at the end of moon
In nature I had no correlative feature: young, yet unfresh
The cup of mint, and the one of oil
Positions were compelling though ordinary
To use certain words
Radiant but growing dim on the sill
He took the machine and she the portrait
Each felt more maroon
The Unavailable Memory of
You, your attention
by the testcard
called “Dust Rises From Highways”—
generally pretty leaden
programming of a sudden cuts
clear of itself, in an odd gust—
You, a mostly empty set
may be changed
though they weigh a distant ton—
Emily Hunt has published poems in The Iowa Review, the Pen Poetry Series, The Volta, jubilat, Diagram, TYPO, and elsewhere. In 2013, Brave Men Press published This Always Happens, a book of her drawings. Her first collection of poems, Dark Green, is now available from The Song Cave.
>Hannah Brooks-Motl is the author of the full-length collection The New Years (Rescue Press, 2014) and the chapbook The Montaigne Result (The Song Cave, 2013). Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Experimental Writing, the Cambridge Literary Review, and Prelude. She currently lives in Chicago, where she is a PhD student at the University of Chicago.
Paul Ebenkamp is author of The Louder the Room the Darker the Screen (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2015), "Four Colors for the Based God" (The Equalizer: Second Series, 2014), "Seizured in the Ease" (Mondo Bummer, 2013), and everything at afterundisclosedrecipients.blogspot.com, and is editor of Modernist Women Poets: An Anthology (co-edited with Robert Hass, Counterpoint, 2014), Particulars of Place: New Poems by Richard O. Moore (co-edited with Brenda Hillman and Garrett Caples, Omnidawn, 2015), and Song of Myself: A Lexicon of Walt Whitman (co-edited with Robert Hass, Counterpoint, 2009). With Andrew Kenower he curates the Woolsey Heights reading series, and with strings and devices makes music as Position.