Poster of Adrift

From Jan 16th to Feb 28th, 2016, OCAT Shenzhen will present the group exhibition Adrift in OCAT Hall B. Turning its gaze upon the Pearl River Delta region and taking the sociological issue of “population mobility” as its foundation, this exhibition observes and reflects on the phenomenon of migration through the contexts of the works on display, and the dialogues that occur between them. Most of the participating artists are from Guangdong province, and take their personal experiences or research as the starting point for their creations, contemplating the issue of “migration” with poetic sensitivity, intellectual critique, or nomadic openness.

The exhibition title, Adrift, is taken from Taiwanese writer Wang Hui-ling’s eponymous novel, whose non-linear narrative weaves Eileen Chang’s itinerant life experiences and artistic creations closely together. Several periods of migration in Eileen Chang’s life endowed her with the perspective of a foreigner, through which she observed, recalled, and eventually wrote on the elusiveness of an age of turbulence. The same case holds for this exhibition’s artists, whose most personal, poignant and insightful creations often grew out of a fragile and restless context. Adrift takes inspiration from the symbiotic relationship between an artist’s creation and his or her travels through a foreign land: What leads us to choose to head towards a foreign place? Is it really a choice, and do these transplants really have total agency? Is it a mere illusion that “homeland” and “foreign land” stand as polarized, both semantically and emotionally? Meanwhile, the romantic feelings embedded in the notion of “drifting” and the reality of it are also interwoven in the exhibition’s emotional layers.

The last chapter of Homer’s epic, “The Odyssey,” tells of the homecoming of the war hero Odysseus, after spending ten years lost at sea due to having angered Poseidon—interestingly, in its contemporary expression, anchored within a consumerist society, “Odyssey” has been simplified, becoming synonymous with the idea of a “grand journey” or a “romantic adventure”. That the significance of “returning home” is largely erased by the emphasis on “grand journey” perhaps results from the absence of any reason to stay anywhere in our present, where labor, consumer goods, spare parts and accessories, information, and knowledge are in a state of unceasing flow——in the context of neo-liberalism, “drifting” is at once the process and the destination. The subject of examination and discussion in Adrift is precisely individuals and communities in this condition: diasporic wanderers who shuttle back and forth on the Baltic sea; new communities migrating from the mainland to Hong Kong; and the crowds that drift about in the urbanized area of Shenzhen. As a fictitious dichotomy, “foreign land” and “home” constantly beckon voyagers on the ocean to undertake an eternal back-and-forth. The exhibition seeks to awaken the awareness of the universality of this frail living condition. It does not mean adapting to a vagrant life “at sea”; rather, it urges us to identify and challenge this socio-economic-political undercurrent.

About the exhibition

Date: Jan 16, 2016 – Feb 28, 2016
Opening: Jan 16, 2016, 16:00, Saturday
Venue: OCAT Contemporary Art Terminal (Shen zhen, China)
Curator: Chen Li, Qu Chang, Zeng Wenqi
Artists: Cheng Ran, Karel Koplimets, Lau Wai, Li Liao, Yeung Trevor, Zheng Bo

Courtesy of the artists and OCAT Contemporary Art Terminal.

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