Map and Territory – What the artists say

Personal Territory Mixed Media 600×600×300cm Franziska Greber 2018

Map and Territory is a cross disciplinary project exploring the subject and its many aspects via theatre , multimedia visual art and panel discussions. It was officially opened at Beijing Geely College Library on Nov 20th , initiated by the IRCCA (International Research Center for Contemporary Art). A huge thank you to curators Li Xinmo and Roland Von Der Emden for a stellar project and also to Geely College for hosting and supporting the project. The president of the college Huo Wei Dong officiated the event.

The speeches were followed by a performance by students who had taken a theatre workshop the previous 10 days with visiting theatre director Cao Kefei  who is living in Berlin and Beijing.

Theatre director Cao Kefei with students during her workshop

This post (as with many of my blogs on group projects) will take a look at artist intention behind the works. Of course this is not the only way to interpret a work but it can be understood as a reason for the work being made. This aspect is often excluded in most art media today and this is my way in addressing this gap. There are so many interesting things happening in this project. Let’s take a look .

What the Artists Say

Cao KeFei 曹克非

The Invisible , performance by Geely students , workshop directed by Cao KeFei Nov 2018

What the artist says:

Everyone has their own trajectory. They start from the moment of birth and then the trajectory moves, jumps, pauses, retreats…. Elapsed time, memory left, harvested or lost things, space that has been rendered and still hidden,  all of which form points lines and faces from a top-down perspective. They record where we are from and our possible destinations.

The theatre workshop invited eleven students from different art fields and disciplines to give play to their specialties in performance, dance and song to explore and record the life map of each participant .


Franziska Greber

Personal Territory mixed media 600×600×300cm Franziska Greber 2018

What the artist says:

The spiral path is both a way in and a way out – a path into the centre of personal contemplation, an internal retreat inwards but also a way out to the surrounding context, the public. Personal Territory leads to an unknown place. The homely carpets fill the interior and spread the familiar, the personal and vulnerable extend beyond its borders into the outside space.

But what does the personal space and the other include? What significance does the familiar have? What are the prerequisites to explore or even change these boundaries? How does the line manifest between the inner and the self, which wants to spread into the context, and vice versa? What questions, dilemmas and conflicts arise at these given or self-built borders? How do the different territories shape and behave in the process, and how does this ultimately anchor itself as our identity?


Martin Derbyshire

Detail Autumn Loop, digital video 13.8 min   Martin Derbyshire 2018
Autumn Loop, digital video 13.8 min   Martin Derbyshire 2018

What the artist says:

I am a Beijing-based artist. I am interested in timeless and universal aspects of human experience, and how they can be encountered within the local and specific. My work is about the relationship between the physical environment and the spiritual condition of the individual within it and how they may seem to mirror each other in tangible ways, at certain moments. I hope my work will encourage a form of attentiveness, because the liberation of the eye brings with it the potential for independent thought and inquiry. This simple act of seeing can initiate a critique of the forms we inhabit and the values, motivations and beliefs that produce them. I am particularly interested in neglected, unconscious moments, spaces and interactions: things that happen on the fringe, on the periphery of vision. These can be small, subtle, subliminal interventions within rational schemes of thought and environment.  I also like to address the appearance of the organic and intuitive within the rational and industrial. These corresponding dimensions of physical and spiritual reality suggest the presence of other forces, the recognition of which may allow a more considered and balanced view of reality to appear. It is this state of emergence and its attendant conflict, that I wish to evoke.


Tami Xiang

Family Portrait, C print x 90  90x60cm Tami Xiang 2014-2018
Elementary School visit Geely college exhibition:

What the artist says:

This project addresses the situation of the 61 million ‘Left Behind Children’ in China. These children are raised by their grandparents or great grandparents whilst their own parents work in cities sometimes thousands of miles away from them.


Douglas Lewis

The Grand World Game,  Flag installation Douglas Lewis 2018

What the artist says:

Grand World is the name of a newly designed theme park on the island of Phu Quoc, Vietnam – this installation is part of a large project comparison between two very small islands
(and other macro-communities): Phu Quoc and Susak, Croatia. They have an incredible number of similarities, yet are many thousands of kilometers away from each other and their cultures could not be more different and so similar at once. They are both fishing-based economies and both continue to struggle to survive – they have failed many times yet continue to creatively re-invent themselves.

In Phu Quoc, the villagers were building its golf course (named Grand World) and within the same year in Susak, the villagers were building a marina to dock very expensive yachts. Both cultures are trading and risking their histories for their futures.


Cinzia Cremona

Finding Ways Out  video (10 mins 30 secs ) Cinzia Cremona 2018
Finding Ways Out  video (10 mins 30 secs ) Cinzia Cremona 2018

What the artist says:

How do we leave the place where we were born? We become by breathing its air, speaking its language, wearing the clothes that mother and grandmother bought for us. Even when we leave, those tight boundaries remain inside body and mind to limit how we think.

In Finding Ways Out, I attempt to wear clothes from my own childhood. I cannot come out the same way I went into them, so I try to break free from their constraining size. Some break and some trap me, hurting my skin. This process destroys most of them, wiping the memory from my body to create new marks.


Li XInmo /李心沫

Unquiet Wind, Sculpture, Clay, Li Xinmo 2015.

What the artist says:

This is a disturbing time globally, from our air, water and food  to our sociopolitical environments. We live in an atmosphere of insecurity every day. This series of my works expresses such an emotion… Everything is disturbing, even the wind.


Frederik Foert

To Live is to Fly China 2017 video HD,6.35 min Music: Towns Van Zandt, To Live Is To Fly, 1971 / Dexter, Rainbow Flight, Frederik Foert 2013
playful spectators at Frederik Foerts work

What the artist says:

The movie shows a 7min bus ride from terminal 3 of Beijing International Airport over the airfield to the plane. I taped my IPhone to the window of the bus, so I got a s table camera dolly shot. Then I just used a simple turn of perspective, putting the images upside down. So we, the spectators, are loosing ground, while the sky gets structured by graphical signs and hanging vehicles. The former floor becomes a map of our imagination.


Jaroslaw Balinski

The Watchtower, digital print 100x75cm Jaroslaw Balinski 2018

What the artist says:

The world is changing so fast, the past removed, tomorrow is here. The old walls are demolished and the new ones are rising higher and higher still. We close our doors, yes, we close our eyes. We pretend we don’t see, we assume it does not exist. Where is our space to roam about? Where is our infinity, where the spirits can fly … into the sky.

‘The Watchtower’ is an open series of photographs, where the tower is used as a screen to display different messages. The series looks into the contradiction of being constantly controlled and observed in our daily and professional lives and the natural desire to be independent and having the
 control over our life. These contradictions in the world exist often in chaotic and unstable scenarios.


Shameera Wiest

Analysis of Maps and Territories, thread, paper , brick size: variable , Shameera Wiest 2018

What the artist says:

I wanted to use natural materials with minimal environmental impact such as thread, brick and metal.  The installation is a scientific model to evaluate success and failure of a process. Knots and points of intersections on the thread indicate nodes of information and the sections of thread are decisions which lead to pathways of success or failure. This complex network of lines of thread are not clearly visible unless you move around them or get closer which is why in my performance I dust the boundaries with grey pigment.


Zhen Guo/郭桢

Upended Vision installation  painting , flourescent tubes, branches, construction debris 430 x 300 x 120cm Zhen Guo 2018

What the artist says:

This abstract ink landscape, like the vast Asian natural world, is full of wonders. It is a strange and ever-changing place, co existing as factual and abstract, microscopic and infinite. In front of this landscape are two inverted triangles constructed from light tubes, creating an confrontational aesthetic tension. The element of light challenges the landscape behind resulting unequal focus, subverting the plane from the ink landscape. These two triangles, overlapping, would form a hexagonal star, which metaphorically contains many cultural of associations.


Anna Fang and Filippo Cardella

Aberrant, 300 printed postcards, acrylic and spray paint 14.8 cm x 21 cm x 300 Anna Fang and Filippo Cardella 2018

What the artists say:

300 black and white postcards printed and hand-painted are displayed in a grid system that forms a regular chart like the coordinates of a map. There are multiple layers of images and text that overlap each other in random and  chaotic ways. The installation generates a sense of frustration in front of an inevitable failed communication, a sense of alienation everybody feels in front of a universe that we cannot fully decode, a sense of frustration generated by our limited knowledge, a fear of not belonging, of being the foreigner.


Niamh Cunningham

Hair Skull  knitted artist’s hair , 23 x 23 x 25 cm Niamh Cunningham 2013

What the artist says:

The human being is fallible and open to vulnerabilities and strengths. 
Using my own DNA as an art material reflects on these fallibilities. Apart from its genetic content I consider its physical condition. For example,, selecting one strand it for its tensile quality which can hold the shape and occupy space. Another strand is selected for its elasticity, these qualities speak of enduring strength and resilience. My intention for this work relates more to the psychology of oneself, the mappings of psychological landscapes and to self awareness and transparency of thought.


There were some interesting panel discussions as part of the project

Speakers:Susanne Matz, Gao Brothers (Zhen) Shuai Hao, Michael Simon, Cao Keyuan, Douglas Lewis, Zhen Guo , Franziska Greber, Cao Kefei, Niamh Cunningham , (curators Li Xinmo , Roland von der Emden), Shameera Wiest, artist Jaroslaw Baliniski

Part 1. Unbounded Theatre had playwriter Cao Keyuan and  theater director Cao Kefei ( Swiss/Chinese) and visiting stage set design master Michael Simon (Swiss /German) currently preparing the NCPA -National Centre for the Performing Arts  stage for a special production of Hamlet . They discussed the relationship and the differences between traditional drama and contemporary theater and stage art and the changes taking place in live theatre.

Part 2 . Multiculturalism and Identity discussion was guided by Gao Brothers (Zhen) with artists Franziska Greber who has projects in 8 countries, Niamh Cunningham,  Shameera Weist who moved to the US as a teenager and also Guo Zhen and Gao Brothers who have also lived in the US for a couple of decades , the panel explored melting pots of cultural identity and how that is navigated as individuals and as artists.

Part 3 . Social Maps and Territories panel was guided by art historian and critic Shuai Hao,  art consultant Susanne Matz  raised realities and challenges to theoretical perspectives with artist curator Douglas Lewis.

Media Link 1

Media Link 2 

The next post will take a closer look at my work in this exhibition