September 19, 2017 3:50 am
Southern Climate opens on September 27th at N3 Gallery. The exhibition addresses work that utilize locations as a method to inquire the complexity of identity in both contemporary and historical contexts. Not only is it the norm these days to leave your native land behind, but a new generation of global mobility is redefining the words home and hometown. Through the course of their travels, people have faced divisive political climates and handled, more importantly, the differences in local customs, etiquettes and allocations of social resources – despite discussions of globalism over the past thirty years, we have yet to produce a self-consistent and realistic way of living from the existing critical theories on globalism. Every day, people talk about going back to the countryside or becoming the new survival strategy by moving to the South – the term “South” here portrays a relative political reality and not a romantic metaphor. Those who endorse “theories of the South” believe that it is not a simple dichotomy that has been born out of the often unstable system in a shifting global economy, but the larger construct of the core and its peripheries remains indefinitely. The overview of the construct includes the relationship between “metropolis – border” and “North – South”, which reveals the attempt to exhibit this long-term experience of unofficial dialogues in the form of an artwork. “South” illustrates the experience of heading straight down, a form of erratic way of viewing and self-organizing on various levels. As a response, an exhibition about the “North” will soon follow “Southern Climate”.
The seven exhibiting artists (groups) are not all from the South in the geographical sense, their works provide dialogues of how to construct a new identity narrative for the newcomers into the city, immigrants, and those who remain in their hometown. Artist Fang Di has his eyes on African immigrants’ urban experiences in Guangzhou. The work The Destination to Promising Land (2017) uses collage to tell the story of a Black rapper with a thirst for success and a love story between an English teacher from South Africa and a local from Guangzhou, providing a unique perspective on the reality of African immigrants in China. Marry Me for Chinese Citizenship began when Li Shuang was living in New York. The work is a record of her performance in Times Square on Valentine’s day in 2015 where she carried a sign on her back that read “Marry Me for Chinese Citizenship” for six hours; it was a deliberate discussion of a “post-racial” era of globalism as well as Asian females’ identity recognition and crisis in the United States. Shi Qing ‘s Factory Dining Hall, 2016 came from a preliminary inspection on some state-owned cotton mills in Zhengzhou, Henan in 2016, directing more attention on the many traces of historicization today: with the perishing of a once in place socioeconomic system, what division and conversion have happened to those living as groups in factories? The then workers’ lifestyle, independent or within a community, was swiftly marginalized through the process of new urbanization and consumption method in a capitalist market, now passively searching for a way to express their lifestyle and political stance unique to themselves in various new/old spaces. The works in “Fong Fo” touch upon how the new and old zones in small southern cities are molded by national policies and consumption habits, as well as the new life of those artists who chose to “return home”; as for Lu Wei HD Channel, they will present a television series on love and life of part-time workers in its format of multiple realities / overlapping of media. Two works by Liu Yin transform the familiar news scene in the South (newspaper industry) into a doctored and light readable message, successfully eliminating the tension between cities. Chow Chun Fai, an artist from Hong Kong, may well be the only outsider in this discourse on locality. His latest series Professional Tears depicts the audience in popular singing competition broadcasts in China, providing an intriguing perspective of seeing on the cultural exchange between the two places.