In this talk at esea contemporary's Communal Project Space, Shanghai-based independent curator Chao Jiaxing will share her extensive experience with transregional curating. She will delve into the exploration of storytelling as a curatorial methodology, aligning with the impact of cultural diasporas on contemporary visual art curatorship.
As part of the talk, Chao will introduce her recent curatorial project, 'A Story of a Merchant,' co-curated with X Zhu-Nowell at kurimanzutto in Mexico. This research-based speculative exhibition interweaves personal narratives, travelogues, historical artefacts, newly commissioned artworks, fictional characters, and architectural interventions. The exhibition borrows the story from a Merchant named "SHUI Ma" on the well-known Chinese online literature platform DOUBAN, illustrating the universality of Chinese immigrant businessmen uprooted to Mexico. This magical nonfictional writing implies a specific charm and meaningful field of literature in the sinophone world after the 1949s. Several factors contributed to the dramatic legend, including the notion of China as the world's factory and a significant amount of funds allocated to research on Latin America initiated by the Chinese central government, as well as the establishment of stronger diplomatic relations after the 1949s.
The exhibition seeks to establish a shared language that challenges preconceived notions, echoing Lisa Lowe's concept of 'the intimacy of four continents.' By investigating the intertwined histories of indenture and colonial violence in Asia, the Caribbean, and the Americas through the life trajectories of Chinese merchants, the exhibition sheds light on the shared experiences of the Chinese diaspora across diverse regions, spanning from the historic Tepito market in Mexico City and Chinatown in San Francisco to Barry Street in Kingston and Yiwu in China.
In alignment with our ongoing programme 'Publishing Otherwise,' Chao's talk will explore the nuanced intersection between publishing and exhibition-making. Throughout the discussion, she will scrutinise the diasporic framework across diverse curatorial formats, underlining the critical importance of steering clear of geo-centric approaches when participating in discussions on immigration and diaspora in contemporary Asia.
Free admission, booking essential.
Chao Jiaxing is an independent curator and researcher based in Shanghai. From 2011 to 2015, Chao served as the curator and managing director at V ART CENTER, a non-profit space founded by the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts. From 2017 to 2019, she was the senior curator at Start Museum, located in the West Bund district of Shanghai. Her current research and curatorial interests focus on cross-disciplinary art practices and rituals as methods in contemporary East Asian art. Her recent curatorial project series Rituals in the Rituals of Future, relies on slow, performative preliminary research for collective creations. In 2019, she was awarded the ACC Residency Fellowship at the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju, South Korea, and also received a Travel Grant to attend the CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference in Sydney, Australia. In 2022, she received the Research Trip Grant from Pro Helvetia and participated in the Tokyo Arts and Space ( TOKAS) Research Residency. In 2021, she edited the publication Under Construction: A History of Shanghai Art Institutions, 2008-2016. Her most recent exhibitions Two Stops after Golden Tea Room, was held at the Ulsan Art Museum in South Korea, and A Story of a Merchant, co-curated with X Zhu-Nowell at kurimanzutto in Mexico. She also served as a mentor on the Expert Panel for the Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize in 2023.
‘Publishing Otherwise: A Slow Book Fair for Coexistence’ is a reimagination of the book fair model, offering an alternative approach that diverges from the pressure of high-functioning, profit-driven transactions and embraces a slower, more intentional form of exchange.
Taking place at esea contemporary's Communal Project Space, the programme brings together two months of free talks, book launches, displays, and workshops led by collaborators from a diverse range of collectives, disciplines, and practises.