Tai Kwun Contemporary is proud to announce a new group exhibition They Do Not Understand Each Other, which runs from 25 May to 13 September 2020 at Tai Kwun’s art galleries in JC Contemporary. Co-presented by the National Museum of Art, Osaka (NMAO) and Singapore Art Museum (SAM), They Do Not Understand Each Other considers what it means to engage with one another, and looks at the potential of art in facilitating understanding.
They Do Not Understand Each Other is curated by Yuka Uematsu, Curator at the National Museum of Art, Osaka; and Dr. June Yap, Director, Curatorial, Collections and Programmes at Singapore Art Museum.
The exhibition title is inspired by an artwork by Tsubasa Kato, They Do Not Understand Each Other. On a small island that lies between Korea and Japan, two figures are seen performing a simple task together while not comprehending a word uttered by the other. The success of the artist and his Korean collaborator in this act of cooperation appears to have been achieved, if not by virtue of their good humour and patience with each other, then by an understanding that exceeds the plane of language.
Yet this English title was not the first. Originally captioned 言葉が通じない (kotoba ga tsūjinai) in Japanese, the artist’s intent was to mark a lack of communication, which was then translated into the English title “They Do Not Understand Each Other” — for a broader reflection upon an absence of dialogue, in the context of the geographical location that is the subject of the artwork. Its subsequent Chinese translation — 言語不通 (Cantonese: yìhnyúh bāt tūng; Putonghua: yányǔ bùtōng) — is meant to build upon and extend its reference of exchange to the subject of culture (within which language is central), with this succession of translations also speaking to the commutability of culture and the possibility of its obverse — understanding.
If the premise of culture is representation, then the promise of cultural exchange — as one might reasonably suppose — is understanding. But what underlies this promise of understanding?
Tobias Berger, Head of Art at Tai Kwun, said, “This is a unique chance to see some of the most contemporary works of these two major Asian museums. Taking the idea of understanding and collaboration as a foundation, the exhibition also shows how much intangible artworks like photography, video and performance entered important institutions and are now seen as an essential part of our cultural heritage.”
Yuka Uematsu, Curator for NMAO, said, “On behalf of the National Museum of Art, Osaka, we are delighted to bring the exhibition to Hong Kong at Tai Kwun. Cultural exchange is not about perfect understanding, but rather opening up a dialogue via unique perspectives. Together with SAM and Tai Kwun, we welcome everyone in Hong Kong to come and experience this unparalleled showcase of artworks that represent the power of their respective mediums.”
Dr. June Yap, Director, Curatorial, Collections and Programmes for SAM, said, “The subject of understanding and exchange goes beyond the individual artworks, to a dialogue between artworks, and a convergence at a curatorial level on the subject of interrelation that resonated with both Yuka and myself. This is a connection that we also felt with Tai Kwun via Tobias Berger and his team, whom we appreciate for enabling this collaboration. The promise is thus fulfilled, not merely by what is said or expressed, but also in simply the relation that exists. A relation that exists between us, between things, even between ideas. On behalf of our curatorial partners NMAO, Tai Kwun and SAM, we hope this will be the experience and understanding that visitors will take with them from the exhibition.”
They Do Not Understand Each Other presents 2 new commissions and 23 artworks from the collections of NMAO and SAM. These two institutions have built national collections of art with their regional foci — Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, respectively — and have been collecting contemporary art widely. Through encounters between the two collections and the newly commissioned works, this exhibition considers the negotiations and expectations of culture.
The diverse range of artworks include videos, mixed-media works, paintings, sculptures, textile, stories, performances, kinetic installations, and photography, with artists hailing from Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and beyond, each bringing a unique perspective on representation and cultural exchange. Here, the artists appear as mediators, even as they perform for and from within the frame of cultural presentation and exchange. In observing culture and the nature of culture, these artworks reinforce the agency of art and its power to represent.
Artists on show:
- Saori AKUTAGAWA (MADOKORO) (Japan)
- Jennifer ALLORA & Guillermo CALZADILLA (Puerto Rico)
- Agnes ARELLANO (Philippines)
- chi too (Malaysia)
- Heman CHONG (Singapore)
- CHUA Chye Teck (Singapore)
- HO Tzu Nyen (Singapore)
- Sojung JUN (South Korea)
- Tsubasa KATO (Japan)
- Charles LIM (Singapore)
- Kumi MACHIDA (Japan)
- Jun NGUYEN-HATSUSHIBA (Japan/Vietnam)
- Wit PIMKANCHANAPONG (Thailand)
- Kohei SEKIGAWA (Japan)
- Kazuo SHIRAGA (Japan)
- Akira TAKAYAMA (Japan)
- THAN Sok (Cambodia)
- Ming WONG (Singapore)
They Do Not Understand Each Other runs from 25 May to 13 September 2020 at Tai Kwun’s art galleries, at JC Contemporary. Admission is free. A 360° virtual gallery will soon be on view on Tai Kwun’s website for local and international audiences to experience the exhibition online.
Along with They Do Not Understand Each Other, visitors are welcome to My Body Holds Its Shape, an intriguing contemporary art exhibition that walks through limits and restraints, and is curated by Xue Tan.
The entire site of Tai Kwun is open to the public daily from 10am to 11pm, while JC Contemporary is open from 11am to 8pm daily (except Monday from 2pm to 8pm). Visitors are encouraged to book their free Tai Kwun Pass online via https://www.taikwun.hk/en/visit/taikwun_pass prior to visiting for guaranteed admission. Walk-ins are also welcome, subject to site capacity conditions. Please note that appropriate sanitary measures are in place with regards to the ongoing coronavirus situation.
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「言語不通」展覽 They Do Not Understand Each Other Exhibition
25 May to 13 September 2020
Monday 14:00 – 20:00; Tuesday to Friday 11:00 – 20:00
Tai Kwun’s art galleries, JC Contemporary
10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Souce: Tai Kwun Contemporary