Isaac Chong Wai
Chapter B: An Artistic Archive of Borders
Kunstraum München 30.5. – 8.7.2018
Opening Reception: Tuesday 29.5.2018, 19:00
Artist Talk with Heinz-Norbert Jocks: Sunday, 8.7.2018, 16:00
Curated by Nina Holm
Wherever and whenever we are, there are always lines and forms before or behind us determining our existence: limits. "An Artistic Archive of Borders" by Isaac Chong Wai (born 1990) investigates the formation of boundaries and their associations in the current world. The exhibition in Kunstraum brings together Chong's early and new works: installations, object works and photographs and videos.
Chong explores the abstract idea of border and asks the following questions: How is a border constructed? How can it be reconsidered through artistic practice? Can a border be a decoration? What if the border is sweet and soft? What if a border can be sold as a product? Dealing with these aspects, the artist, who grew up in Hong Kong, created an archive which demonstrates the conceptualization of art and the reconciliation to the current world where border is a concept that creates hatred and love, unity and diaspora, migration and protection, terror and security, survival and death.
On the ground floor, the installation "Haribo Wall - Gold (Under Construction)" (ongoing since 2017) brings us into the examination of the abstract character of borders, Interfaces and boundaries. The soft, bendable bricks made of melted fruit gummy bears reveal a positive connotation of the mostly negatively occupied concept of the wall and at the same time demonstrate the instability of borders. Meanwhile, the question of demarcation is addressed in the video "The Silent Wall" (2014) by means of Chong's the conciliatory result of his research in Sarajevo. The numerous bullet holes on the walls of the city - testimonies of the Bosnian war - were perceived with little attention in the everyday life of the inhabitants referring to the artist's research; the inhabitant do not see the bullet holes as a taboo, as the traces of the war belong to their history while the indifference is created through the daily presence of the memories of the war atrocities in public space. This background moved the artist to touch or cover the wounds of this city - hole after hole.
Upstairs there is an installation made of 28 bricks in the center, which is named after the motto of the European Union, "United in diversity", idiosyncratically illustrated ("In varietate concordia", 2018). Each brick holds one of the flags of the current members in the EU, folded on edge and hermetically sealed in artificial resin. The supranationality of the EU finds its culmination in one accompanying cacophonic sound, consisting of 28 overlapping national anthems. The work that was created especially for the exhibition at Kunstraum, illustrates the dilemma of a halting structure that exists between a culture diversity and egalitarianism oscillate.
In "I Made a Boat in Prison" (2015), the artist addresses the theme of migration and diaspora. For this performative project he cut out wire fence from a courtyard of a former juvenile prison in Weimar and thus built the outline a boat with which he moved through the streets of Weimar; the journey ended the former site of the prison Weimar. The boat is disassembled into its individual parts presented on a wall, accompanied by a video that made the journey with the boat.
In the work "Suspension of the Air" (2017) rests a bronze cast in the form of a life ring, which has already lost air, on broken mirror glasses. The replica consists only of the upper half of the ring - another indication that the object hardly has a life-saving function, moreover, due to the material property, the life ring would sink anyway. Chong compares the half inflated life preserver with the state of the world, with the powerlessness of the world authorities to adequately help and rescue. Nevertheless, the question arises whether help or rescue is understood with the same trajectory. Here is the lifebuoy as a metaphor for longing and hope in many ways shaken.
The title "An Artistic Archive of Borders" plays on a new, contemporary form of an archive where ideas on the topic of border are collected and the conflicts between the ideal form of an "open border" and the inherent need to delineate is demonstrated in particular. The artistic archive
offers the opportunity to rethink the term boundary - Chong is above all interested in the aestheticization of the border, the visualization of the terrible and the beautiful, so as to have artistic means of reconciliation between to reach competing parties.
Chapter B is the second part of the exhibition project that was held in the Apartment of Art started with "Chapter A: The Rehearsal of the Futures" on May 12th and the show runs until June 8 at Schönfeldstraße 19
Isaac Chong Wai (Born in 1990 in Guangdong) studied his BA at the Academy of Visual Arts at Hong Kong Baptist Univerisity and MFA in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies at the Bauhaus-Universität in Weimar, Germany. He lives and works in Berlin and Hong Kong. He engages themes of collectivism and individualism, politics of time and space, border, migration, war, militarism, racism, identity politics, LGBTQ, public sphere and human rights with the mediums, namely, performance, site-specific installation, public art, video, photography and multimedia. In recent years, his works were shown at Goethe Institut Hongkong, Serlachius Residency organized by the Serlachius Museums and the Mänttä Art Festival, BERLIN MASTERS TOY Award at the Brandenburger Tor Stiftung, Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Bauhaus Museum in Weimar, Macura Museum in Novi Banovci Serbia. Museum of Moscow and so on.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Bavarian State Ministry of Education and Culture, Education and the Arts, the Confucius Institute Munich and the Burger Collection
Photo Credit: Isaac Chong Wai, Kapitel B: An Artistic Archive of Borders, © Kunstraum München