[-empyre-] curatorial re-colonization

Timothy Conway Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Fri Apr 20 01:59:23 EST 2012

Dear Nate and Ellen,

It's very cool that both of you have ended up being available the same week, as featured guests of -empyre-.  I am much more familiar with Ellen's important projects in Hong Kong, which have led the way for activist thinking about curating and new media exhibition throughout Asia.  In a way your projects couldn't be more dissimilar, with Ellen working very much on an international platform whose every day practices have potential consequences for public policy and global politics, and Nate seemingly working along more "local" parameters.

I was fortunate to be in Hong Kong at the time of Microwave this past November and left feeling very impressed by how Ellen integrates activist media installations (such as projects by eToy and numerous bioart activists) with exciting public programming that extend the boundaries of artwork and installation.  Now Ellen tells us how she was preoccupied last week by working to preserve the very nature of her liminal curatorial practice in the face of potential governmental incursion.  Truly inspirational.

This is where I'm interested in hearing from you both about the intersections of our curatorial practice.  Nate, it's obviously very important that you have sited your curatorial project on indigenous burial grounds that seem to have been sanctioned by Texas state authorities.  As I glean form the website of the Mother Neff State Park, this land seems to have been deeded to the State of Texas by a private family in 1916.  The site states that "In the 1930's, the Civilian Conservation Corps<http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/historic_sites/ccc/> (CCC) restored the park to its historical setting. An excavation in 1935 unearthed three Indian graves and many artifacts. During prehistoric times this area was occupied by several groups of Indians, including some groups probably related to the Tonkawas."

What's interesting is that both you and Ellen are working on colonized territories.  Helen makes it fairly clear how the politics of colonization and re-colonization of Hong Kong are embedded in her practice. I would be interested in hearing more about that. And from Nate, I'm wondering how the politics of colonization and relocation figure into your curating and the work of the artists exhibiting in relation to what you call the "Apache Projects."   It could be particularly important to our listserv to hear more about this since -empyre- has many subscribers who no doubt would identify themselves as indigenous peoples rather than "prehistoric" ones. So I'm wondering how the park's own reference to "pre-history" figures in the Apache Project and, for the list at large, in curating per se.

Thanks for joining us, and looking forward to a very lively discussion about these extremely important matters.


Director, Society for the Humanities
Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
A. D. White House
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York. 14853
From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of ellen pau [ellenpau.hk at gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 4:42 AM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Apache Projects

Hi Tim, Renate, Aram and Nate,
Great to meet you all here.  Sorry that I can't make it last week because of a numbers of urgent civic actions. I will tell you more below.
As Tim introduce me last week, I am working in Hong Kong mainly for Videoatge and Microwave new media festival<http://www.microwavefest.net>.
We are working on a number of projects, particularly on the upcoming version of  Wikitopia<http://videotage.org.hk/wikitopia/>, that is a biennial event about collaborative futures.  This year, beside the curated unconference, performance, workshops, we will have an exhibition that is developed like an open sources projects, such as soundcloud, uncloud and github.
I am very happy to to join in the discussion about curating.  Curating in Asia or particularly in Hong Kong is a growing hot topic, the city has a number of significant projects / events over the last two years. For Example : The mega project (~US$ 3 Billion project) The West Kowloon Cultural District <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Kowloon_Cultural_District> ; another multi-million venture HKART12- (Art Basel bought 60% of Hong Kong Art Fair<http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/08e746e4-77e5-11e0-ab46-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1sLTbLoTF>); the opening of Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre<http://cmc.scm.cityu.edu.hk/en/> where the highly respected Jeffrey Shaw is the dean of the School of Creative media of City University<http://www.cityu.edu.hk/>. Two years ago there was a small publication commissioned by Para/Site Art Space<http://www.para-site.org.hk/>, co-edited by Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya <http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/about/staff-profiles/curators/alvaro-rodriguez-fominaya> and Michael Lee, and published by Para/Site, Studio Bibliothèque<http://studiobibliotheque.blogspot.com/>  and seed | projects :" Who Cares? is an anthology that compiles 16 essays on curating art in and of Asia. One of the themes addresses the politics of care, commonly understood as the basic role of curators, with regards to art and artists, across time and contexts. Another theme revolves around markers of success in the realm of contemporary curating. A third recurring theme deals with curating in the globalised art world of advanced travel and communication technologies. A fourth theme reconsiders the audience as active producers in a curated experience. Through a variety of perspectives and literary styles, these texts constitute primary notes towards ‘curatorial criticism,’ a subfield of art criticism that identifies the new in curating today."

I am more interested with the third and fourth themes. And that is probably accounts for my interest with Microwave New Media Festival and Wikitopia.

Over the years, art practice in Hong Kong had changed a lot, starting from the "Cultural Desert" to the flourishing (whether you like the art or not) situation now. I observed that as the idea of collaborations between authors and audience grows, some artists move on to an artivist works (such as Leung Po<http://motat.blogspot.com/>, Wen Yau<http://wenyau.net/whoswy.html>, Liu Wai Tong<http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%BB%96%E5%81%89%E6%A3%A0>, Ger Choi<http://twitter.com/#%21/gergerger>, Complaints Choir of Hong Kong<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Js74bfiOd1I> and many many more)

In the last two weeks, because of the new Chief Exective<http://www.news.gov.hk/en/categories/admin/html/2012/04/20120410_183552.shtml> election on 25th March, many believe the next government will exert more control over freedom of speech and strident moral values.   Starting last week, people from The keyboard frontline<https://www.facebook.com/KeyboardFrontline> build a petition against the copyright law that makes sharing online and derivatives work a criminal offense http://www.change.org/petitions/intellectual-property-department-of-hong-kong-withdraw-copyright-amendment-bill-2011
The second is the campaign " Our Representative is Invisible! The Cultural Sector Demands the Expulsion of Timothy Fok Tsun-ting and the Return of Our Voting Rights"<http://www.fac.org.hk/>

In an art world that is less market/ fair driven and even less academic moderated, if we are thinking about the spectrum ranging from a formalist fine art object made by a singular unit to the interactive or participatory social actions / collaborative happenings, then we can find the art projects in Hong Kong shifting more to the interactive social actions reacting to a number of political, ecological and cultural issues.

We find guerrilla farming @Hong Kong Film Cultural Centre<http://www.hkfcc.org/news.php?action=detail&i=24>, beer making at Woofer Ten<https://www.facebook.com/wooferten/info>, karaoke or picnic or other social participatory projects are popular than exhibitions type of art events.

In the coming Wikitopia, I am curating people to collaborate and work together in an open sources framework exploring the idea of social coding, sharing (such as uncloud as tactical media ) and mix skills (such as Audrino crosses over with vertical farming).

I am interested in this type of events because this makes the communities less passive and less consumer-ic.

Sometime the artist in these projects will use relational aesthetics to be the theory of their art making but I think the role of the curator, the artist and the social activist are also merging. I think if we believe that we are doing art and art is to inspire, to be creative, to make changes then like an electron, I would call these people active agents.

I am happy to be in the this space and learn so much form you.
Thanks again for the invitation.

Ellen Pau
(852) 90206183
Inter-Act Arts
ellenpau at facebook.com<mailto:ellenpau at facebook.com>

On Tue, Apr 17, 2012 at 5:50 AM, Nate Hitchcock <natehitchcock at apacheprojects.com<mailto:natehitchcock at apacheprojects.com>> wrote:
Hello room,

Thank you to Renate and Tim for the intro. and invite. It is really
great to have this opportunity to present and join in the discussion.
A little about me. I am somewhat based in Weehawken, New Jersey and
previously based in Chicago (SAIC) where I started making shows.
My personal website has some links to past exhibitions I organized:
natehitchcock.com<http://natehitchcock.com> (scroll straight down). I begin studies this May at
Danube University's Media Art Histories program.
Apache Projects is what I am working on right now: Apacheprojects.com.
It is an open-source exhibition site located in Mother Neff State Park
in Moody, Texas. It is a Tonkawa burial cave discovered by the C.C.C.
during the construction of the park in the 1930s. Here is the park's
official history of the cave (it is written on a plaque posted on the
path to the cave): http://apacheprojects.com/info.html.
Right now I am working with artists who are interested in making solo
shows inside the cave. The artists are all interested in moving new
media, net.art etc. ideology from screens into other forms or away
from screens in altogether.

Here are some things that interest me..
Studying in Chicago gave me a possibly different approach to making
exhibitions that involves little to no money. For those of you who may
not be familiar, Chicago has a huge amount of artist run temporary
spaces, usually taking form in someones living room or empty bedroom.
The first show I made in 2008 took place at Normal Projects
(http://normalprojects.info/) in a kitchen where I hung 2d works on a
fridge. The living room displayed 2d works or works on screens curated
by the woman who lived in the apartment.
I find that new media work etc, despite the cost of equipment, is very
conducive to this type of exhibition making. Also, cost wise I have
found it relatively easy to find equipment for free.
Through my interest in this type of practice and work I've found that
not only is new media cheaper to display, but also more mobile.. which
brings me to another interest of mine that may be more relative to
discussions of curatorial practices and strategies..
How mobile is new media/net.art/screen based work? I know there is a
lot of talk about format shifting recently and making sculptures from
an internet oriented perspective but each time we load a work onto a
machine in a different context can the meaning of the work change as
well? It seems to me that this type of work is very conducive to
alternative spaces. If this is true, how much curatorial freedom do we
have in choosing the locations, and in that case, what makes a show a
show even?
Some very good responses to these questions so far are Aram Barthol's
Speed Show and Rafael Rozendaal's BYOB because they highlight the
mobility and reproducible nature of these types of works and instead
of doing what might be obvious; taking control away from the artists
since everything is accessible they relinquish the control of the
curator for the benefit of the artist (somewhat).

Looking forward,



Apache Projects
Tel. 1 432.242.2056<tel:1%20432.242.2056>
empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>

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