• Featured Event: ‘What Leaf? What Mushrooms?’ | Zurich, Switzerland

    The exhibition 'What Leaf? What Mushrooms?' by Ishita Chakraborty

    opens September 12th, 2019

    at the 'Art Container' in Zurich, Switzerland

     

    The title of this artwork is inspired by the American composer and visual artist John Cage and his version of a Japanese Haiku by the seventeenth-century poet and saint Matsuo Bashō, featuring a mushroom and a leaf. Haikus are often related to the seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter.

    The work was also inspired by the reading of ‘The Mushroom at the End of the World’ by Anna Tsing. It is said that, after Hiroshima was obliterated by an atomic bomb, “the first living thing to emerge from the blasted landscape was a Matsutake mushroom”. They only grow in human-disturbed forests and were first mentioned in an eighth-century Japanese poem celebrating “the wonder of autumn aroma”. The smell is unique, though Tsing admits most Europeans can’t stand it: “It’s not an easy smell. It’s disturbing.” During her reading, she became fascinated by the nature of mushrooms and their haphazard organic growth. Mushrooms are fungi, they are parasites, and they grow where they get food.

    I started to imagine the mushrooms becoming migrants, growing and stretching all over the world. The migrants and refugees are mostly resettling from war-torn places and countries with a poor economy. It is said that they try mostly to get into Europe or they end up in the United States because that’s where they think they will find ‘quality of life’.

    I am an immigrant in Switzerland. A large part of assimilation consists of language training. Deutsch and Schwiitzer Deutsch learning, ten hours a week, has become a big part of my life, which I share with my colleagues at the Autonome Schule. It is a small world within a larger community.

    This project is about co-existence and the attempt to make other colours and their cultures visible in the white society where I now live. It evokes the sprawl and evolvement of organic movements of human beings beyond controlled borders and immigration policies. It is the utopia of a harmonious co-existence in a Eurocentric society.

    The container connects to the journeys of migrants and the life of refugees in transition. The standard shipping container has long become a symbol of globalization and the limitless transportation of goods around the world. Whereas trade barriers have been continually reduced over the years, the movement of people, especially from the South to the North, has become increasingly restricted and difficult. To choose the extremely dangerous option to attempt a journey, locked into one of these containers, speaks for itself. The histories and lives of migrants metaphorically turn into a product, kept in storage, packaged and ready to be shipped. This work questions the role of identity, language, maps and territory, borders and restrictions, immigration, memories, co-existence and conflicts.

     

    About the artist:

    Ishita Chakraborty’s works are often autobiographical in nature and poetic. Her oeuvre is expressed through different media including unconventional drawings, installations, poetry, sculptural objects, video and photography. The artist draws the inspiration from her own family history. She grew up with her grandfather, who was an actor and director in theater throughout his life. As a grandchild of an Art and Craft teacher, she keenly observed her grandmother’s creative embroidery, sculptural objects, crafts and her diaries.

    Due to her father’s job the family moved from one place to another and lately the artist immigrated to Europe. Her own journey of migration and the migration of large number of people from Bangladesh in East Bengal greatly influenced her work. Today, identity and language are the two main pillars of her work. Ishita’s work initiates a dialogue between the cultures, socio – political history and situation, a going back and forth, digging in memory and setting new priorities. Lost and found, erasing and revealing, disorientation and relocation, exile and belonging. Between homesick and homeseek!

    Ishita is a West Bengal (India) born, Zurich based artist. After her MFA (2013) in Fine Arts from Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata she won several awards and started exhibiting her work in national and international venues. In 2017 Ishita was invited in Switzerland in the studio of the Gästeatelier Krone in Aarau. She had her first solo exhibition in the Museum Forum Schlossplatz in Aarau. Parts of her work were then chosen by Kunsthaus Zofingen by curator Claudia Waldner to be exhibited in the Art for Peace group exhibition. She has presented her artist talk about Culture Clash in Dock Basel, Switzerland and in Museum Forum Schloss Platz in 2017. In 2018 she was invited to participate with the Khoj Foundation PEERS SHARE program in Delhi. She is now continuing her voyage with the MFA in Art and Media program at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). In 2019 she presented her recent body of work ‘I speak your language’ in Kunstraum, Zhdk, Zurich and participated in performance art event with Reta in Zurich. Her forthcoming exhibition is in September 2019 in Art Container Zurich ‘What Leaf? What Mushroom?’.

    See more of Ishita's works at  Ishitachakraborty.com

  • ‘Building Bridges -Yangon’ is now online! With a contribution by Hnin Eint Chel and Shwe Phyu Sin Moe | Yangon, Myanmar

    Welcome to 'Building Bridges - Yangon', the international young artists new media exhibition organized and curated by Sai Thin Linn Thet and Ushmita Sahu,

    in collaboration with Emergent Art Space.

    The exhibition took place in the newly restored wing of the Old Tourist Burma Building, in Yangon, Myanmar, from July 17th through July 30th, 2019. It was visited by hundreds of people, from all walks of life.

    Click here to see pictures of the opening night

     

    Artists in the exhibition: from left, Aung Thu Phyo, Shun With Aung, Bay Bay, Kaung Swan Thar, Bo Bo.

    23 artists, including 10 from Myanmar, reflected on the theme 'Building Bridges' and entered into dialogue with one another (often, alas, only virtual) and with the many visitors who were welcomed to the show.

    Click here to see the show online

     

    Every day the exhibition was made possible by the work of 13 young volunteers who not only took care of the electronic equipment, projectors, headphones, etc., but helped the visitors, ready to answer their questions and needs.  Every day their smiles would brighten the halls!

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Building Bridges Yangon Exhibition in Myanmar, July 2019: A Fulcrum of Solidarity

    by  Hnin Eint Chel and Shwe Phyu Sin Moe

    What is a "bridge"? A bridge is a connection between two boundaries, a fulcrum of unity and collaboration. Moreover, it is also an intercourse that can cease limits. Let's build bridges together between us. As the world becomes more competitive, we place an emphasis solely on physical developments, advancements and the latest technological trends. We start to forget to share our love of our community, to sympathize with and be compassionate.

     

    In this multifaceted international exhibition, many worthy themes were brought forward:

    • Economic Inequality - affluent and powerful people use various ways to oppress, threaten, and discriminate against impoverished people. The rights and opportunities of poor people are diminishing day by day. Moreover, they had fallen under the threat of some privileged people.

       This art exhibition has revealed the actual lifestyle of impoverished people, their struggles for living and the adversity they encounter every day. Hence, it is reminding us to address income inequality, finding solutions and constructing a fair, free, peaceful and prosperous society.

    • Diversity - diverse traditions, cultures and histories of different ethnic groups in Myanmar can be visible by observing their handicrafts, costumes and artworks. Through creative visual works, you can estimate the artists' political and religious beliefs, opinions and perspectives. Mutual respect prevails, perceiving diverse cultures deeply and appreciating them.

    • Peace - Myanmar artists endeavor, through their creative works, to include the crucial role in trying to cease civil wars and moral conflicts in Myanmar. Art is soft power that is able to achieve goals that can't be attained through arms and the latest weapons. Moreover, art can enter into and depict the deepest layer of heart that isn't usually visible.

    • Environmental Awareness - Photography in the exhibition interprets nature and engages living organisms as subjects.

    Your point of view on this art exhibition can vary according to where you were born, the community you were raised in and the struggles you have encountered. Beyond the visual, music and sonic environments, the exhibition offers additional layers of meaning to contemplate. We are certain that the visitors, no matter their background, returned back home full of ideas, satisfaction and enjoyment.

    The "Building Bridges Yangon" art exhibition is a lantern that illuminated different lifestyles, gaps between poor and rich around the world, negative impacts of urbanization and the side effects of development, to communicate a diversity of perspectives that can lead to deeper communication and understanding.


     

    Swe Phyu Sin Moe is a 17 year-old engineering student at West Yangon Technological University specializing in electronic communication. Given her desire to preserve natural environments and reduce negative impacts caused by technological and physical advancements, her mission is to be an environmental engineer. She also has a strong interest in art, literature and content writing. The 'Building Bridges Yangon' exhibition offered her a more lucid focus and provided valuable knowledge, power and energy to carry on her future plans.

     

    Htin Eint Chel is an energetic business management student who is immersed in human resource, event and marketing management. She successfully organized in the 5th Career Fair and Open College at her school, the National Management Degree College (NMDC). Additionally, she works with Myanmar Youth Empowerment Opportunities (MYEO), serves as the NMDC Campus Chapter Director and organizes sponsorships and logistics for the Initiative for Peace (IFP) Myanmar.

     

     

     

     

  • ‘Receivership’: a New Media Exhibition | University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

    The exhibition 'Receivership', at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), featured the works of thirteen MFA students in the Digital Art and New Media (DANM) program. It was a cumulative and meaningful moment for the exhibiting artists, who all spent more than a year creating the works, as well as thesis papers.

    'Receivership' poster at opening | Photo by Andrea Stellten

     

    Wandering by Yanzi Li as seen in the 'Receivership' Exhibition  |  Photo by EAS

    Exhibiting students:

     

    Shimul Chowdhury,  Kathleen Deck,

    Kavi Duvvoori,  Keegan Farrell,

    Richard Grillotti,  Chelsea Jones,

    Yanzi Li, Jordan Magnuson,

    Avital Meshi, Matthew Mitchell,

    Zoe Sandoval, Laura Stevenson,

    Gregory Sullo

     

     

    The artists not only produced the works for the show, but also wrote thesis papers that were published in July 2019: https://guides.library.ucsc.edu/etds

    Exhibition Theme & Context

    The title of the exhibition, Receivership, was selected by the students because of its dual meaning in representing both the conditions of production and reception in art and the changes that occurred while attending the UCSC DANM program. In the Fall 2016 the University threatened to close down the Digital Art and New Media (DANM) program and put it into a state of “receivership , meaning under strict review and control by an outside administrator. The new administrative leadership stepped in and threatened the viability of the program.  The exhibition cohort worked together during the academic year to ensure that DANM was reinstated as a strong, independent program once again.

    Left: '{ remnants } of a { ritual }' by Zoe Sandoval  | Center and Right: 'Stitching Solidarity' by Shimul Chowdhuri |  Photos by EAS

    The exhibition demonstrated both cohesion and perseverance and carried an inspiring spirit throughout. This show embraced the diversity of mediums used to depict a wide range of subject matter. It included everything from textile work, to sound sculptures, to a resonance chair that you could customize to your desired frequency.  This was an effective convergence of the arts, digital technology, the humanities, and the sciences, displaying to the public and to the university the unique and powerful work being done in this program.

     

    Artworks

    The exhibition was spread across three locations on campus: the Digital Arts Research Center (DARC), the Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery, and the Porter Faculty Gallery. The thirteen artists were purposefully distributed throughout the galleries by the curator, John Weber, Director of the Institute of Arts and Sciences, locating spaces best suited to the artworks.

    'Neither Contradictory nor Coincidental' by Laura Stevens, as seen in the 'Receivership' Exhibition | Photo by David Pace

    The first floor of the DARC included seven artists. This was the darkest and most interactive of the locations.  As you walked into the space, you were invited to interact with several pieces, using your body and hands to engage with the work. The piece by Laura Stevens, Neither Contradictory nor Coincidental, challenged the stigma associated with dyslexia. By using a mouse on a pedestal in front of a large screen, interactive text and audio appeared that demonstrated both the talents that accompany dyslexia and the unfortunate consequences that may follow a dyslexic student’s limited access to appropriate information regarding their learning style.

    'Neither Contradictory nor Coincidental’ by Laura Stevens, as seen in the 'Receivership' Exhibition | Photo by David Pace

    Rather than viewing this learning style as something to be corrected, the piece examined the strengths found in cognitive abnormalities. This piece placed the viewer in a disorienting world, forcing the viewer to interact and, possibly, understand a bit more about how dyslexia might feel.

    Enviro-Envision by Kathleen Deck as seen in the 'Receivership' Exhibition | Photo by EAS

     

    The DARC first floor included other fantastic works, including:

    Code-Switching by Keegan Farrell,

    Enviro-Envision by Kathleen Deck,

    Wandering by Yanzi Li,

    Video Games after Poetry by Jordan Magnuson,

    Classification Cube by Avital Meshi,

    and Resonant Waves by Richard Grillotti.

     

    The second floor of the DARC featured computer generated sound art, by artist Matt Mitchell, After W.D. Stewart and Walter Jackson, a piece of music about the music of W.D. Stewart and Walter Jackson. This generative electronic music composition created beautiful howling sounds that could be heard  from anywhere on the second floor.

     

    The third and top floor of the DARC exhibited work by artist, Zoe Sandoval: { remnants } of a { ritual }.

    '{ remnants } of a { ritual }' by Zoe Sandoval, as seen in the Receivership Exhibition | Photo courtesy of the artist Zoe Sandoval

    It was an immersive, participatory installation that explored the crossroads of nostalgia, love, and longing. It offered an emergent, personal reflection on Venezuelan diaspora and memory crystallization. Audiences were encouraged to write love letters to the future and to other non-tangible things in a very tactile and intimate way. Once finished with your letter you added it to a bowl in the center of the room that collected the floating notes and caused their slow crystallization over time. This piece lets the viewer meditate on personal feelings and brings them together silently through this participatory work.

     

    'JOYGRIEF' by Chelsea Jones, as seen in the Receivership Exhibition | Photo courtesy of the artist Chelsea Jones

    In the Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery were located three works: Stitching Solidarity by Shimul Chowdhury, “Untitled” by Kavi Duvvoori, and JOYGRIEF by Chelsea Jones. Jones’ JOYGRIEF was a multi-channel sound installation exploring the emotions of joy and grief and overall the human experience. This piece cycled through different voices and responses to both existential and lighthearted questions. As you stood in the middle of the circle of speakers you felt overwhelmed by the personal and heartfelt comments that you heard.  The audience is invited to look inward and have a moment to reflect on the joy and grief present in their lives.

    The Porter Faculty Gallery featured Greg Sullo’s piece, “Musicians,” and was what the artist refers to as a “sound sculpture.” Throughout the gallery were five sculptures strategically placed that emitted sign waves at different frequencies. As you walked through the room you could create a personal composition by moving through and under the sculptures. This piece paid careful attention to not privilege one perspective or experience. This made for a unique and individual interaction with the piece.

    'Musicians' by Greg Sullo, as seen in the Receivership Exhibition | Photo by David Pace

    Impact

    The Receivership exhibition was an excellent show applauded by the university and community. Many people told me that they thought a show like this should happen all of the time. This exhibition was an opportunity to showcase and highlight the creative work being done at the cross section of disciplines at UCSC. The Digital Art and New Media program has a reputation at the college for having dedicated students who are willing to push boundaries in order to re-define and invent new categories of exploration. When this can happen, innovation and discovery occurs. This convergence of subject matters helps the audience and the artists examine culture, society, and the digital world. It is opportunities like the Receivership show that get us to rethink our educational experience and everyday lives.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     

    Author Kathleen Deck is an emerging artist contemplating science,
    art, the environment, and climate change in her work. Through her
    artistic research practice, she seeks to create work that challenges
    viewers to become actively engaged and educated in environmental
    issues with the hope that an informed public can help forge a more
    sustainable society.

     

  • ‘Nature Unconditioned’ | Kochi, India

    An installation by Indian artist Maksud Ali Mondal, at the Kochi Student Biennale, where it is on view until March 29th, claims to present nature in its 'unconditioned' state.  

     

    Detail image of 'Nature Unconditioned'

    Everything that lives eventually dies. Birth, growth, death and decay. It is a continuous cycle of nature. This process of nature fascinates me, where everything keeps flourishing, changing, rotting, and at last decomposing. My practice is mainly inspired by those natural activities. The process, the organic matter, the ephemeral nature and insubstantiality of materials are the most important aspects of my work.

    In the project I created for the Kochi Student Biennale I engaged with the organic system, such as fungal growth, which has a very important role in our ecosystem. Without fungus, valuable nutrients would be locked as natural rubbish, such as dead leaves, fallen trees, and feces. Everything would decay slower, decreasing the nutrients in the soil which plants and animals need to survive.

    The way industrial products, constructions and plastic affect the environment, plants and soil are intimately related. It affects even groundwater, the major source of our drinking water; hence affects our food production as well.

    Detail image of 'Nature Unconditioned'

    I created a space entirely dedicated to the free growth of nature: a damp room, that was once used, but in times abandoned, which I covered entirely with different kinds of mushrooms and fungus. I engaged in a practice that involves a transformation of human inhabitant into a natural inhabitant. The project is mostly an interdisciplinary practice. We don’t usually allow ourselves to embrace nature as it is. We condition it to our own requirements and likings. This is the aspect of nature that I would like to preserve and show, where nature is not conditioned by our own need and liking, but it is left to its own organic growth and supremacy. In the current idea of preservation and protection, we tend to exclude and/or include only certain aspects of nature,  and by doing so to make our own version of what nature is.

    I wanted to blur the restriction between nature and the conditioned inhabitant that we ourselves create to protect and preserve our way of living. So I created an interaction for those who would walk through the space of the installation and experience the organic space, where the idea of a conditioned nature would be contested throughout the room.

    'Nature Unconditioned', site-specific installation, paddy straw, wheat flour, leaves, grass, spawn, petri dish, chair

     

    About the Kochi Student Biennale and my experience in it.

    This year the Kochi Biennale Foundation announced an open call for art student applicants. It supported the production of all the selected projects by students, where ‘’Making as Thinking’’ was the main idea and focus. It was a great engagement with artists, curators, teachers, local people and with the place, including engagement with the institution, geography, history, landscape, city, and technology. There were 109 projects by 200 student artists.

    The room of the installation 'Nature Unconditioned'

    Participating in it this year was an amazing experience. Each and every day was to be experienced. Once I arrived in Kochi, I started to figure out the materials I needed for my project. Through that, I engaged with the city and local community who helped me to find my materials. I created a site-specific installation in response to the climate of Kochi and that particular site. I was involved in the making process; which took an entire month to execute. This was my first experience working with and seeing the ongoing process of the artists’ biennale and Students’ Biennale together. I would like to thank the Kochi Biennale Foundation, all members, curators, as well as Professor Sanchayan Ghosh, Shruti Ramalingaiah, Krishnapriya CP, Shukla Sawant, KP Reji, MP Nishad and all my friends.


    Maksud Ali Mondal is an artist based on West Bengal. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in painting from Kala Bhavana, Visva Bharati, and is now in his second year of the Master's program. He spent the majority of his time with plantations, outdoors and in the studio. Now he lives in a green place, Santiniketan, surrounded by forests, ponds, fields, and rivers. He builds his work around the reactions of the environment, the weather or such changeable elements.
    In his newest body of work, he is creating his own color from minerals, vegetables, leaves, and seeds. The inescapable cycle of nature, growth, birth, and death, existence, and memory is the main focus of his work. The process of making this work also plays an important role in his practice.
    His inspiration comes from his own experiences as well as from nature. Now he is working internationally, having visited Paris, Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy for an exchange program and residency.

     

  • ‘Excavations’: Searching for ancestral roots | Lahore, Pakistan

    We are happy to publish the catalog of an extraordinary exhibition by Farrukh Adnan at the Rohtas 2 Gallery in Lahore. His search for roots takes him in a journey that moves between archaeology, geography, and ancient myths.

     

    'Manifestation' | Collage on Digital Print 40x53 inches

    My studio practice on historical research centered on my ancestral roots in ancient “Tulamba”, located in Southern Punjab, Pakistan. I am interested in archeological work that explore personal memory of space/place, collective historical events, and cultural depictions of nature in the context of present times. It is revealing of aspects of history which have a profound impact on our contemporary culture today. This engages in discussions relating to how we interpret a space within its context and how context itself builds sometimes out of the “syntax”. I believe that archeology connects us to the current situations of the world.

    We stand here in the depths of despair, but there is still hope. Our feet are close together but we are spiraling down. Is it the quicksand or is the mind playing tricks again? Whatever may be the case the feeling is intoxicating. The earth, it seems, has finally opened up a crater of a mouth to swallow us in. But we are no Alice and this is not a rabbit hole that leads to Wonderland. We are in the ruins of Tulamba; an ancient city that lives beneath the expanse of the new one. It is Atlantis, but instead of the water surmounting a thousand years of culture there are heaps of sand and clay coming together to form giant vestibules that have stood the test of time. Is it a life size vivarium, where giant anthills have been dissected out of their underground facility and put on display for an observer that is part of the experiment?

    'Foresight' | Pen and Ink on Canvas 48x48 inches

    Many believed the old city was not a produce of man’s mental faculties but was the construct of a deity that must have ruled the earth before time itself. Some believe that poltergeists of immeasurable strength and power built a residency for their kind. Others who believe in fables of giants roaming the land who built this with their own hands plastering their confines with gregarious mounds of sand and clay. There are some truths to all of these stories, but none declare an aphorism of a human civilization. There are physical clues that chide the fairy-tales attached to the land. In these towering sculptures cooking utensils are found that can be classified as archaic but can serve their purpose in the present time. There is a prevalent air of human presence that never lost its scent to those who hounded for it.

    'Beyond Times II' | Pen and Ink on Canvas 15x17.5 inches

    Our journey begins where human storytellers believe in fantastical reasons to mask the reality attached to the place and an unfathomable destiny that is the essence of fantasy itself. We started off with an exploratory process of the locale. A newer, realer city had developed around these ruins to cater to the needs of the modern man. A necessary part of our journey was to create a stencil for an artistic expression that could speak volumes without abandoning its goal.

    'Excavation II' | Soil, 6X4X4 inches

    The use of cartography was a tool best suited for our exploration. The ideation of mapping in its most empirical form pushed through unforeseen labyrinths of context mincing out a worthy expression of time, space, organization and network. The fruit that bore was like the prodigal son of the land creating a language that would soon realize into a repository of torn out pieces of parchment that defined the region’s cultural origin. Our method became an obsession to draw out an origin from the blood of the latest generation and injecting the streets with it. The forefathers smiled upon us for they had never intended to part with us.

    The aim of my art practice with research remains to be psycho geographical, while spiritual element has shifted from memory to symbols. During research and production new areas of interest arise and lead to the next body of work.


    Scroll down to look through the 'Excavations' catalog:


     

    Farrukh Adnan lives and works in Lahore. He received his Bachelor Degree in Graphic Design from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2009. and a Master’s Degree in Visual Arts from the Beaconhouse National University. He teaches Photography at National College of Arts, and Drawing and Graphic Design at the National College of Business Administration, both in Lahore.

     

    Exhibitions: Excavations, Distorted Paradigms, Enigmatic Spaces, Museum of Wasted Love, Unfolding Matters, Art for Education, Who is Afraid of Art?, Lines in the Sand, Voice Breaking Boundaries: Migration and Movement.

     

     

     

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