In Stranger Lands: Curator and Artists in Conversation

In Stranger Lands: Curator and Artists in Conversation

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02 pm, Sat 16 Mar 2024
EMASI Vạn Phúc
No. 2, street no. 5, Van Phuc residential area, Thu Duc, HCMC
Registration link

From the organizer:

In Stranger Lands: Cocoa’s Journeys to Asia is a collective and artistic research project that explores Asian cocoa from a cross-disciplinary perspective. It originates in the observation of a knowledge gap about the history and culture of indigenous chocolate and cocoa industries in the region. Rather than embarking on an academic journey, the curator chooses to gather artists, scholars and actors from the cocoa industry, and to address the topic collectively, with an open-ended outcome. Each featured artwork has been specifically commissioned, with artists contributing original work related to Asian cocoa, conceived from their own artistic perspective and local context.

This talk focuses on research and knowledge production as a methodology for art making. Curator Caroline Ha Thuc, along with artists Bui Cong Khanh, Cyril Delettre and Pan Lu, will discuss artistic practices based on research and fieldwork. The discussion delves into the artists’ motivations to learn, generate, and disseminate knowledge through their creative processes. How has research informed their artwork and, conversely, how has art influenced their research work? In contrast to the academic field, artists enjoy a certain freedom from established rule: what kind of liberty do they find in this emancipatory form of research? What challenges have they met in converting their research findings into tangible forms of expression?

A number of artists participating in this exhibition drew inspiration from their fieldwork experiences. Using war medals from 20th century conflicts as molds, Khanh designed chocolate medals in collaboration with a local chocolate maker. His artistic and sweet bonbons serve to neutralize violence and symbolize reconciliation. Cyril, on the other hand, journeyed to the Mekong Delta and the Dak Lak region, conducting interviews with farmers to gain insights into their dreams. He transformed his encounters into an immersive photographic installation, inviting the public to, in turn, meet some of these farmers. Lastly, Pan Lu and Bo Wang focused their research on local botanical gardens and the history of cocoa in Hainan. Their creation, an interactive board game, encourages participants to assume the roles of historical figures such as a French missionary, a German anthropologist, and a Chinese general.

Bridging the realms of art and research, these artworks offer a rich and tangible form of knowledge, unveiling untold stories and shedding light on the multifaceted world of Asian cocoa. They propose original conceptions of art and knowledge in which cognition and aesthetics mutually converge, valorizing a plurality of modes of knowledge production.

Language: English

This event is part of an ongoing series of public and education programs in association with the In Stranger Lands: Cocoa’s Journeys to Asia exhibition, which opens on 15 Mar 2024 at EMASI Nam Long and EMASI Van Phuc.

Introducing the speakers

Bui Cong Khanh is one of the first Vietnamese artists to gain international reputation in the 1990s with his performances that questioned the restrictions on individual expression in Vietnam. Deeply concerned with the social constructions of cultural value, Khanh’s multifarious practice has since embraced painting, sculpture, installation, video, and drawing. A poetically provocative artist, Khanh’s works, informed by historical research, continue to venture to new depths, and expertly combines the plastic arts with a conceptual method not taught within the Vietnamese educational system.

Bui Cong Khanh has widely exhibited in the Southeast Asian region and beyond, with notable group and solo exhibitions including Illuminated Curiosities, Nguyen Art Foundation, HCMC, Vietnam, 2022; Impressions Unearth, San Art, HCMC, Vietnam, 2021; Stealing Public Space, Singapore Art Week, Singapore, 2020; Homo Faber: Craft in Contemporary Sculpture, Asia Culture Center, Gwangju, South Korea, 2019; the 5th Singapore Biennale, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2016; and Dislocate, The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, organized by San Art, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. His artwork is in the collections of M+, Hong Kong and Nguyen Art Foundation, Vietnam.

Cyril Delettre’s artistic practice primarily revolves around photography and videography, influenced by his documentary approach and rich experience. Initially educated in economics, Delettre shifted his focus to cinematography, gaining valuable experience for his coverage of the 1987 Festival de Cannes, with his work published in Les Cahiers du Cinéma. Joining the agency Imapress as a photojournalist in 1989, he later became a member of the REA agency. In 2012, he created a monumental work for SNCF, exhibited on the façade of Austerlitz station in Paris, spanning an impressive 60 meters by 7 meters.

Having relocated to Hong Kong in 2014, Delettre currently runs an art gallery dedicated to photography. Inspired by his new environment, Cyril has produced several series of works, including How To See The Light… Walk the dog, Eclosions HK, After Midnight, Afternoon, Rythmes, Walk Don’t Walk, Wild City and Hope. Additionally, he documented the lives of people residing in the Dump Site of Cebu, Philippines in 2018.

Pan Lu is Associate Professor at Department of Chinese History and Culture at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. As an artist duo, Pan Lu and Bo Wang have been working together on various artistic projects since 2012, delving into themes such as space, image, environment, colonialism and the Cold War in the entangled histories and presents in East Asia. Their collaborative works include Postcards from the Future (2014) and Ode to Infrastructure (2016) as multimedia installations. Additionally, they co-directed Traces of an Invisible City: Three Notes on Hong Kong (2016); Miasma, Plants, Export Paintings (2017); and Many Undulating Things (2019).

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