Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Situate the work; situate the conversation – Studio visits with Shuo-Yin Chang

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on February 27, 2010

In the artist’s studio:

There are nearly 100 frames in A4 size, wooden colour with golden line as decoration, standing on the floor. They look cheap even cheesy, and so are those printed emails that are framed in them. Those emails are replies to one email, an email sent by Ting-Tong Chang, title ‘What is Democracy?’ These replies are from various institutions, organizations and government offices or parties in the UK, Taiwan and China. In the most of the emails, it’s written that they do not have any information about this question; some of the replies ask Ting-Tong to look for the answer in dictionaries or Wekipedia; some say that it is not their roles to answer such a question; some of them persuade Ting-Tong to join the community instead of responding to the question; some reply that they hope Ting-Tong can address the question more specifically and they will investigate and deal with this inquiry in a rather sincere tone, and some suggest Ting-Tong should send the email to a more appropriate department.

The conversation begins with laughing at some of the replies. I start to talk about how I understand the concept of this work, which is the part that I think the work is successful and good. I continue saying that, however, I am also confused by Ting-Tong (the artist)’s mailing list, in terms of the variety of institutions and nationalities. So many different subjects seem blurring the central criticism of the work. He was worrying about the same thing. We talk about our ideas and then he says his ideas of the possibilities of installation. The discussion continues.

An email from the artist:

In the attached image, there are around 50 emails from varied government offices and parties, organizations and institutions in the UK being framed and hung on the wall. The artist keeps only the replies within the UK, and decides to hang them on the wall in a regular order, as a formal display. It is more concentrate and much clearer as we discussed last time, he writes.

The work looks great. I think it would be a good idea to include this work in the exhibition that we are going to work together in Berlin, and we should meet another time to discuss further, I reply.

In a conversation with the artist:

A spraying apparatus that is often set up in a toilet or public space for fragrance is filled with black spray paint instead of perfume and installed in the seminar room at the college. During the seminar, people sense a strange smell and gradually feel a little uncomfortable. They notice the tricky device because of the black paint dripping from the spray and the floor in front of the installation is becoming black. He said with a smile, people in that seminar either love the work or think it is provocative and hate it and him.

Listening to the story, I am smiling too. I like the situation of the work, subtle yet aggressive. I think this work will suit the show very well too. He thinks it is a good idea. We start to discuss how this work can be installed and what kind of result, effect and reaction it might cause in the exhibition. Gradually, the topic of the discussion is shifting from the work and the show to our interests and our recent reading. He talks about Art Power and I recommend Commenwealth and The practice of everyday life. A new conversation just begins.

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