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Fault Lines 斷層線

Kay Mei Ling Beadman / Andy Li San Kit / South Ho / Arielle Tse / Eunice Tsang / Yuk King Tan / Huey / Chan x Joey Zhu / Batten and Kamp /

Glossy tiles in shades of pink appear to be airy pieces of foam, while actual foam is concealed by a deceptive brick facade. From afar, white, interlinked chains look like party decorations, but on closer inspection turn out to be interconnected zip ties. A soft, fluffy cushion is actually hardened white cement. A barely visible, delicate wire fence is like a conjured mirage. Subverting expectations and upending perceptions, nothing is as it seems at experimental art space Present Projects’ latest exhibition, Fault Lines.

An equally curious image marks the beginning of the exhibition. A track of colossal footprints vertically scale a limestone slab, seemingly defying gravity and questioning perception. Known as Cal Orcko, and located within Parque Cretacico, just south of the Bolivian town of Sucre, this imposing 90m wall features 70 million-year-old dinosaur tracks. That the wall has survived erosion and fossilisation is a phenomenal feat, its verticality resulting from a powerful tectonic plate shift that rendered it almost mountain-like. Born out of curator Eunice Tsang’s fascination with this image, dinosaurs and geological phenomena, Fault Lines asks how to find steady ground when it’s being pulled out from under you.

Installation view of On the Line by Arielle Tse, 2021.
Courtesy the artist and Present Projects.

Essentially wounds inflicted on the earth’s surface, or cracks in its foundations, fault lines occur from displacements caused by tectonic movements, and are vulnerable to earthquakes. Tsang and the participating artists consider the term’s conceptual allusions, from lines serving as boundaries and connections, to the word “faults” referring to both defects and wrongdoing. 

Structures and systems are equated to the earth, and their flaws to fault lines. When these flaws are made visible, our beliefs in these constructs are shaken, resulting in a feeling of disillusionment – a globally resounding sentiment at this time. Each work in this exhibition effectively channels a similar sensation, achieving this vulnerability by toying with our perception. 

Artists Arielle Tse and South Ho engage in visual trickery by highlighting the contrast between heavy and light, both physically and emotionally. In a pandemic-ridden world, where mobility has been paralysed, Tse’s take on long-distance relationships and logistics mirrors that sense of stagnation. In Lovespace (2021), the name taken from a British logistics company, a box contains pinkish tiles resembling foam packing peanuts that spill out onto the gallery floor, but cast in resin and plaster so they are far heavier. This irony is carried through into her neighbouring installation On the line (2021), featuring two smashed-in telephones made out of plaster either side of a dividing screen with disconnected wires. The artist creates a metaphorical representation of a communication breakdown, conveying the challenges of long-distance relationships.

South Ho. Installation view of Fault Line at Present Projects.  
Courtesy Present Projects.

The weight of burden further manifests itself in Ho’s Heaviness and Lightness (2021). He covers the gallery floor with deceptively soft, grey foam yoga bricks, resembling those used in pavements. The audience is invited to disrupt the given formation, by throwing the bricks at each other, playing with them and even building their own constructions. In doing so, he transforms a sombre, seemingly heavy installation into a light, playful one. Designer duo Batten and Kamp’s installation Soft Bodies, Hard Lines (2021) originates from a playful point of departure but takes a rather dark turn. What appear to be soft, pillowy, circular forms, conforming to various corners of a singular room, are in fact cast in concrete from plastic balls children play with. Immovable, these sculptures are impaled by rods, almost resembling interconnected pressure points, ready to burst at any given time.

Tightly wound with elegant silk string, objects collected from protests around the world, including paper cranes, saws and water bottles, feature in Yuk King Tan’s Crisis of the Ordinary (2019-21). In blue, red, yellow and white, the most common colours on national flags, the string strangles objects associated with resistance. Similarly, for Secure (2021), she uses zip ties to create linked chain streamers, the insides of which contain lines from Ursula Leguin’s 1973 dystopian story The Ones Who Walk Away from the Omelas. Inscribed with quotes such as, “we can no longer describe a happy man”, combined with the zip tie’s violent and restrictive connotations, the work heralds an ominous, uncompromising future.

Focused on chronicling the past, Andy Li’s poetic Exercises of Time (2021) encapsulates Present Projects’ evolution since it opened in January 2021, employing the concept of a line to do so. Drawing on his film-based practice, Li explains that the frames capture images in a continuous line, which are then projected back as moving images to our brain. He measured the perimeter of the space in film, finding its length to equal 42.19m, or 3 minutes 48 seconds of 16mm film. For him, the space’s physicality is translated through the film reel – a line demarcating the passage of time.

Yuk King Tan. Exhibition view of Fault Line at Present Projects.  
Courtesy Present Projects.

Tsang proposes another means of measuring spatial relationships with time in her durational piece Grout Job (2021), in which she actively performs her role as both curator and caretaker of the space. Pushing along a trolley, she slowly fills voids and fixes cracks with grout, its blue colour making the dents and damage between the tiles even clearer. The process of mending becomes futile, but she persists in leaving her mark on the physical space, which will remain even after Present Projects ceases to exist.

Visitors need to leave their own impression on Kay Beadman’s installation just to encounter it. Subtle and sophisticated in both appearance and concept, Enmeshed (2021) consists of a barely visible, fine-gauge gold and silver metal net running across the main gallery space, which most visitors run into before realising it’s there. The net posits invisibility as a way of understanding power structures – those so deeply implemented, we only become aware of them when they affect us. Racial constructs and systems are specifically examined here, an extension of Beadman’s PhD thesis, focused on Qing dynasty scholar Kang Youwei’s troublesome treatise Datong Shu, on creating the ultimate Chinese and white mixed race. The intertwined wires denote the respective races, with gold symbolic of Chinese and silver of white. Here lines are conceived as constructs which simultaneously connect and divide.

Batten and Kamp. Installation view of Fault Line at Present Projects.  
Courtesy Present Projects.

Architect-artists Huey Chan and Joy Zhu reimagine lines in architectural, cosmological and, most prominently, bodily forms in their digital drawing Chasms (2021). Pondering the multiple possibilities of what constitute fault lines, they project physical wounds inflicted on their own bodies, with the splitting of skin analogous to the way fault lines split the earth. In a far more sensuous comparison, Zhu and Chan liken a kiss to fault line. Depicting two interlocked lips, Kiss and the Crack (2021) encapsulates a tension and vulnerability entrenched at the site of a fault line. Yuk King Tan’s photograph Mountain Skin (2020) captures an intimate, maternal moment, as the artist connects mosquito bites on her sons back with ink paint, forming a mountainous landscape. The image almost mirrors that of Cal Orcko, which it’s hung across from, bringing the inquisition full circle.

Intricate and layered, the exhibition features works with minimalist aesthetic flair, belying their con-ceptual complexity. In forcing us to confront the fallacy of our own perceptions, the works effectively evoke a desire to reconsider established norms, resonating strongly with the current cultural climate. As the ground shifts beneath our feet, a state of disillusionment and displacement replaces a meticulously constructed sense of security – the falsity of which we were perhaps unwilling to acknowledge. 

不同程度深深淺淺粉紅色的光滑瓷磚好像輕盈的發泡膠,而真實的發泡膠則欺詐地被磚遮掩。從遠處看,那一串串相連的白色鏈像是派對裝飾,走近之後發現其實是連在一起的拉鍊。還有柔軟蓬鬆的坐墊實際上是硬化的白水泥;差不多看不到的精緻鐵絲網像是幻化出來的海市蜃樓。預期和認知遭到顛覆,一切皆不是看起來的那樣,這便是實驗性藝術空間Present Projects的最新展覽——「Fault Lines」。

展覽從一副令人好奇的圖像開始:巨大的岩石峭壁上有一排垂直而下的碩大腳印,像是在挑戰地心吸力和我們的常規認知。這是Cal Orcko,位於玻利維亞蘇克瑞鎮以南的恐龍公園(Parque Cretacico)內,這堵高90米的牆上的是七千萬年前的恐龍足跡。它能在侵蝕和石化中安然倖存下來已頗為神奇,劇烈的板塊移動造就了其垂直而下的形狀,如同一座山。出於策展人Eunice Tsang對這一畫面、恐龍和地質現象的迷戀,展覽「Fault Lines」應運而生,同時發出扣問當我們腳下的地面被動搖時,如何才能找到穩定的落腳之處。

斷層線本質上指的是地表創傷或地基裡的裂縫,由地殼運動引起的位移產生,並且很容易遭受地震侵害。從承擔邊界線及連接線的作用,到既指缺陷又指不當行為的單詞「faults」,Eunice Tsang和參展藝術家們對這個術語的概念和隱喻做了反復思量。將結構和制度比做地球,它們的缺陷比作斷層線。當這些缺陷暴露出來時,我們對這些建構所持有的信念便開始動搖,隨之產生一種幻滅感,這是當下的一種普世情緒。是次展覽中的每件作品都有效引發這種感受,它們通過戲弄我們的感知來生成這種無力感。

藝術家謝恩旗和何兆南通過突出物理和心理層面的輕重對比營造出視覺欺騙的效果。在疫情肆虐的世界裡,流動性已陷入癱瘓,謝氏對遠距離關係和物流的詮釋反映這種停滯感。得名於一家英國物流公司的作品《Lovespace》(2021年)中,一個盒子裡裝有粉色瓷磚,看似像包裝用的發泡膠粉一般灑落在畫廊地板上,實際上它們是以樹脂和石膏澆鑄,所以要重得多。這種諷刺在她鄰近的裝置作品《On the Line》(2021年)中也體現得淋漓盡致。有兩部用石膏製成的電話分別置於屏風的兩側,電話都斷了線。藝術家在隱喻溝通中斷,以此表達遠距離關係中存在的挑戰。

負擔的重量進一步體現在何氏的作品《沉重與輕浮》(2021年)中。他將看似柔軟的灰色發泡膠瑜伽磚鋪在畫廊地板上,就像人行道上的磚塊。觀眾受邀上前打亂已定的形式,把磚塊互扔、擺弄磚塊,或者用磚塊來自由搭建。在此過程中,他將一個昏暗看似沉重的裝置變的輕盈、俏皮起來。設計雙人團隊Batten and Kamp帶來的裝置作品《Soft Bodies, Hard Lines》(2021年) 從頑皮的出發點,轉向了頗為陰暗的方向。看似柔軟、像枕頭一樣的圓體自動變成了展廳牆角的各種形狀,它們實際是用小孩常玩的塑膠球再澆以混凝土製成的。這些雕塑當中穿著杆子不可移動,酷似相互關聯的壓力點,隨時準備破裂。

從世界各地的抗議活動中收集來的物品:紙鶴、鋸子和水瓶,用精美的絲線緊緊纏繞著,這是陳玉瓊的作品《Crisis of the Ordinary》(2019-21年))。 藍色、紅色、黃色和白色,這四種國旗上最常見的顏色的繩子壓制著與反抗相關的物品。同樣,在作品《Secure》(2021年)中,她將紮線帶串聯起來,上面印有Ursula Leguin1973年所著反烏托邦作品 《遠離歐米拉斯的人》裡的文字,如「我們無法再描述一個快樂的人」。這些文字配合紮線帶所蘊含的暴力和限制意味,使整個作品預示著一個不安定、不妥協的未來。

Andy Li 在其詩情畫意的作品《Exercises of Time》(2021年)中專注於記錄過去,他採用線的概念概括了Present Projects自2021年1月開業以來所歷經的成長和演變。李氏引他的電影實踐解釋道,畫面連續地逐格被記錄,然後在我們的大腦中串連為移動影像。他測量了膠片的周長,它的長相當於42.19米,按時間長度換算等於16毫米膠片的3分48秒。 如此在他看來,藝術空間的物理性通過電影膠片發生了轉化,成了一條標記時間流逝的線。

Eunice Tsang在她的持續性作品《Grout Job》(2021年)中提出了另一種衡量時空關係的方法。她在其中充分演繹了當策展人又當展館物業人員的角色。她推著一輛手推車,慢慢灌漿填滿空隙來修補裂縫,藍色的漿讓瓷磚之間的凹痕和破損變得愈發明顯。這樣一來便使得修補顯得有些徒勞。但她堅持在實體空間內留下自己的印記,即使之後藝術空間不復存在,但印記仍然會留存。

觀眾只需觀看Kay Beadman的裝置作品,便已在其中留下印象。《Enmeshed》(2021年)在外觀和概念上都極其微妙而精緻。幾乎難以察覺的精細金銀金屬網橫跨了主展廳,大多數觀眾在意識到它在那之前就已遇見了它。網假定隱形作為理解權力架構的方式——那些滲透得如此深入的權利,只有受其影響時我們才會意識到它們。Beadman在此專門研究了種族的結構和制度,是其博士論文的伸延,該論文聚焦清朝學者康有為在論著《大同書》中提出的終極華人與白人混血種族計畫。互相纏繞的電線意指不同種族,金色象徵華人,銀色象徵白人。此處,線被視為同時起著連接和分割的作用。

兩位建築師兼藝術家Huey Chan及Joy Zhu在他們的數碼繪畫《Chasms》(2021年)中重新構想在建築、宇宙學以及最顯著地,在身體形態中的線條。他們仔細思考可能構成斷層線的多種原因,而後將自己身上的傷口展示在投影上,以開裂的皮膚來比擬斷層線如何分裂地球。在更為感性的對比中,Joy與Eunice以接吻來比作斷層線。作品《Kiss and the Crack》(2021年) 描繪了兩個牢牢糾纏在一起的嘴唇,仿若深深嵌入斷層線現場的張力和脆弱感。陳玉瓊的攝影作品《Mountain Skin》(2020年)記錄了一個充滿母性的親密瞬間,藝術家用水墨將她兒子背上的蚊叮連起來,形成一副山景。畫面幾乎對應著掛在對面的Cal Orcko作品,將這一番探究又帶回了原點。是次展覽複雜精細而層次分明,作品以極簡主義美學風格呈現,從而掩飾其概念上的複雜性。 這些作品與當下的文化氛圍產生強烈共鳴,迫使我們去直面認知上的謬誤,從而重新審視既定準則。隨著我們足下地面的轉移,所精心構建的安全感轉而被幻滅和流離失所的狀態所取代——或許我們不願承認這種錯誤,幸運的是,「Fault Lines」 替我們做到了。

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