Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Studio Review

Posted in Reviews by danwang on March 21, 2010

A Studio visit to Gransden Avenue London Fields, 9th March 2010

 I succeed in arranging my second studio visit to artist Anna Boggon, whom I met by chance last year. I felt that I had been preparing so long for this meeting, searching for a reason for the next studio visit and further research of this artist’s practices. The purpose of the visit did not come out until after five months’ trial and effort.

 After sitting down in a comfortable couch, Anna opened the file of my proposal from her computer and discussed the coming Metro station project that we were going to collaborate on in Shanghai. The conversation traced back to her Artist Residency in China (2006), where she had a project named The Taxi Driver: Anna took several taxis and asked drivers to take her to some places, where the different places were a response to the artist’s questions from their own perspectives, and these questions were summarized as the description of the city such as sadness, terror, ugliness, beauty through the project. Due to the different language translations, interpretations and culture differences, each destination was surprising and unpredictable, and sometimes Anna was confused by the taxi drivers’ answers. What shocked her most was an answer to the questions of ‘ugliness’, where a driver brought her to the venue of Shanghai Expo. That also partly implied the local people’s comments to the construction of Expo: It was a dusty, massive and mechanical building site. 

 Experiencing the high-speed plan of the city, Anna had an interesting metaphor that the construction of shanghai was just like the growing bamboo. It was hard to predicate which building would be highest in the city, and which one would be destroyed in ten years’ time?” Anna and I were both amazed by the enormous expansion of the city, the speed of urban construction and the relative capacity of the city. Talking about the Metro Station project, we agreed that the Expo was a theatre of various social activities, acting through a number of specific global institutions and associations. The exploration of this project was to re-examine the Expo phenomena of Shanghai and analyze the affect on people’s lives, and its aim was to express the moments from the artists’ perspectives in every single day during Expo.

 Anna suggested a website named Art on the Underground, which could be a reference for my project, and she was also involved in one of these projects: The waiting room. Participating with art students, the project was divided into two exhibitions at Dagenham Heathway and Upney Underground stations, and it aimed to tract the memory of past journeys, and engage people to raise awareness of their location station. It started at the waiting room of the station, works as images or installations were displayed on the windows, platforms and walkways. These projects on the underground could be precedents of my project with Anna and suggested the way forward for the curatorial practices and art discourses.  

 Focusing on this project, Anna’s initial artistic approach was to start with the billboards and commercial advertisements in the public spaces, where these images turned to manifest the presence of the city and appeared as urban elements to present the trends of pop culture, consumption and political propaganda. We believed that further discussions of appropriate contexts and methods were fundamental and should be continued. That is the main focus of our third topic for the next studio visit that we both look forward to.


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