Present Tense 2017: New Urban Legend: Resistance of Space
May 17 - July 16, 2017
The Chinese Culture Center (CCC) of San Francisco continued its Present Tense exhibition series with New Urban Legend: Resistance of Space, an exhibition featuring four international site-specific projects that engage with local communities in an exploration of urban spaces and the issues embedded in them. New Urban Legend includes video, photography, and objects from works by Bay Area artists Weston Teruya and Laura Boles Faw, as well as two large scale projects in China involving more than 25 artists—one headed up by curator Man Yu in the Pearl River Delta, and the other by co-curators Michelle Wong and Wei Leng Tay in Hong Kong. The exhibition is curated by CCC Assistant Curator Ziying Duan and overseen by CCC artistic director and curator Abby Chen.
The project - entitled Resistance of Space - alludes to the spirit of defiance that allows us to interrogate the relationship and power dynamic between art happenings and institutional spaces. Curators act as local observers who organize artists for site-specific art projects that activate non-art spaces. The selected artists are encouraged in these interventions to explore experimental channels of art and display, the only limit being that they be staged in self-identified, physical locales. To archive and broadcast works that are across seas and perhaps ephemeral in nature, our experimental platform also includes the use of a 360° camera. This virtual reality experience offers an unorthodox lens from which to view these artistic experiments, further complicating notions of space. As a whole, this project organizes a collaborative curatorial network, galvanizes collective artistic action, conceives a virtual reality archiving project, and stages an exhibition dedicated to connecting self-organized art scenes from across the world.
From July 2016 forward, the CCC curatorial team has invited curators including Man Yu (former deputy director of Xi'an Art Museum, independent curator), Michelle Wong (Researcher, Asia Art Archive, independent curator) and Wei Leng Tay (artist), and Weston Teruya (artist, arts policy advocate, and independent curator), Laura Boles Faw (artist and educator) who will respectively curate projects in Shenzhen, Hong Kong and San Francisco. One amongst the several endeavors highlighted by this exhibition, Sightlines, curated by Michelle Wong and Wei Leng Tay, is a project that navigates transformations, complicates the gaze, and negotiates relationships that mark the lived experiences of inhabitants in Hong Kong post Umbrella Movement. It asks participants in the project to engage in cyclical conversations with each other on what it means to see and how one sees in 360. These evolving conversations take the form of various materials including 360 images and culminate into a collective presentation at CCC. Inviting artists and social activists to work directly in social spaces, Residents by Man Yu is an investigation of the living spaces and civil rights of residents in the Pearl River Delta. In connection with the 40th anniversary of the fall of San Francisco Manilatown’s International Hotel, artist Weston Teruya will stage a performance at this location -- responding to the 1977 eviction in which Sheriff Richard Hongisto used a sledgehammer to break down the doors of hotel tenants. Artist Laura Boles Faw will engage women residents in San Francisco Chinatown to explore how iconic cultural objects shape relationships to power and access.
As the production and display of contemporary art has long-since been institutionalized with the setup of white cube, New Urban Legend: Resistance of Space challenges the safety and security with which such mainstream platform are endowed. Instead, the exhibition aims to highlight destabilization by recognizing public, urban sites and their endemic issues as catalysts of material practice. In facilitating, archiving, and presenting the works, the use of virtual reality allows the audience to experience these artistic interventions as if they were physically present. Furthermore, the curators and artists, in the use of VR and interrogation of VR as an artistic form, venture beyond simply representing radical action on a virtual platform. They consider virtuality itself as a “space,” capable of imagining, enacting, or inflecting resistance and engaged in the broader discourse of our project. The culminating exhibition at 41 Ross will display materials of various forms, including 360° documentaries, videos produced by portable cameras, still images, written records, physical artifacts, and so on.
New Urban Legend: Resistance of Space is part of “Building Our Town,” a theme to anchor a series of art initiatives elevating the community and giving voice to equality, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
New Urban Legend: Resistance of Space is also supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Community Challenge Grants Program, with additional support from Grants for the Arts, the San Francisco Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Friends of Chinese Culture Center (C-Cubed).