1. Chinternet Ugly

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    ‘Chinternet Ugly’ navigates the messy vitality of China’s online realm, a space where artists can engage, play and debate.

    This exhibition features works by six leading new media artists and includes new commissions and site-specific installations.

    China is home to 802 million Internet users, 431 million micro-bloggers, 788 million Internet mobile phone users, and four of the top ten Internet companies in the world. This vast user base combined with a handful of ubiquitous online platforms and e-commerce giants including WeChat, Tencent and Alibaba results in cultural currents that flow at a blinding pace – spreading and evolving far more rapidly than on the ‘global’ web and creating a distinct internet culture – the ‘Chinternet’. Utilising this space as a site for cultural and political negotiation, critique and play, the artists presented in ‘Chinternet Ugly’ probe how
 the sheer volume of Internet users in China ensure that the country 
is effectively becoming its own online centre of gravity, one with the power to create its own sphere of influence over network norms.

    Focusing on a younger generation of artists – the first to have grown up with mass digital technology – ‘Chinternet Ugly’ invites the viewer to explore the complex and contradictory nature of China’s hyper-regulated digital sphere from the perspective of some of its most dynamic and engaging artists. From Xu Wenkai (aaajiao) and Lin Ke’s manipulations of found digital materials and standard software programs; to the augmented reality of Lu Yang; the celebratory pop aesthetics of Ye Funa to the dark side of internet freedom in the works of Liu Xin, and the veneration of the ugly and artless evident in the works of Miao Ying.

    In contrast to previous exhibitions which have emphasized the ‘machine vision’ and ‘new aesthetic’ of our current information age, probing the hypothetical futures of both science fiction and ‘Sino-Futurism’, ‘Chinternet Ugly’ presents an inversion of these trends. It focuses on a distinct anti-aesthetic that valorises amateur production, eschews technical mastery and celebrates humorous inaccuracies in reproduction, translation, and dissemination as a means of satirizing a society relentlessly concerned with image.

    Paying tribute to the messy humanity found between the cracks in a digital world of smooth transitions, polished selfies, blemish correcting software and autocorrect, the artists in this exhibition celebrate lo-fi aesthetics and highlight the Chinternet’s potential to subvert cultural stereotypes, reject societal norms and generate a vibrant vernacular of satirical memes and online subcultures.

    ‘Chinternet Ugly’ has been co-curated in partnership with Dr Ros Holmes, Departmental Lecture in Chinese Art at the University of Oxford, who specialises in modern and contemporary Chinese art and online visual culture.

  2. Ya-chu Kang: Changing Textiles

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    Changing Textiles – Everything about cotton is about cotton

    In partnership with Manchester Science Festival, we host an exhibition of work by our current Artist in Residence Ya-chu Kang.

    Ya-chu Kang, joins us from Taipei Artist Village, Taiwan. Her work explores issues of identity and the relationships that humans have with natural and social environments. Her research inspires a prolific and beautiful responses in the form of site-specific installation, mix-media sculpture, land art, photography and more.

    Often inspired by local textiles and associated patterns, motifs and found object, Kang uses travel and research to find links between textiles, industry, local history and contemporary culture. Her artistic process includes embracing accidents, mutations, and deterioration of surface and detail with time, accepting nature will have its way, especially working with unstable mediums such as sun, salt, dust and water.

    During her residency at CFCCA, Kang is interested in researching the materials and relics relating to the textile industry in Manchester and its rich history. In particular she will explore how this influences Manchester’s current society and culture, and how this relates to the wider global contexts of migration, economic trade and social structure. For this exhibition Ya-chu will craft a new artwork that uncovers the fabric of the city’s industrial part and threads together the untold stories that have left an imprint on the Manchester we know today.

    Following this Kang will reveal what she has been working on, including new works, during her residency with us at an open studio exhibition on Thursday 29 November until Sunday 2 December.

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  3. Charwei Tsai: Bulaubulau

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    CFCCA presents the first UK solo exhibition by Taiwanese artist Charwei Tsai, bringing together a selection of new and existing works including watercolour and ink drawings, photographs, sculpture and films. As one of her most ambitious shows to date, this body of work traces Tsai’s exploration of human existence as well as her research into the sustainable living of indigenous communities in Taiwan.

    Tsai’s practice is largely concerned with the human-nature relationship, often incorporating geographical, social and spiritual motifs into her works. Using nature as a metaphor, her work is highly personal yet explores universal themes. Tsai is particularly interested in the symbiotic and interdependent relationship between humanity and nature.

    Through her socially-engaged practice, Tsai encounters and explores the lives of indigenous communities in Taiwan who depend on natural resources from land and sea. These communities face both man-made and natural threats to the environment on which their livelihood and culture rely.  Through the two film works in the exhibition, Tsai seeks to highlight the injustices inflicted on these communities, often caused by neglect of policymakers, and in light of this celebrates their resilience and success in implementing sustainable economic and educational systems as well as preserving spiritual practices and traditional knowledge.

  4. Mandy Barker: Hong Kong Soup

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    Concerned about the un-settling truth of waste pollution in the world’s ocean and beaches, Barker collected waste debris from over 30 beaches in Hong Kong between 2012 and 2015. She then separated the marine plastic she found into different categories relating to the traditions and material cultural of Hong Kong such as manufactured toys, retail items, household waste and even hazardous medical objects. Barker then worked in her studio to compose vivid photographs by overlaying images of the waste materials collected.

    Barker purposefully uses the contradictory, aesthetic quality of these manipulated images to encourage visitors to look closer and through this engagement consider their own social responsibility. A key aim of the project is to raise local and global awareness of environmental issues around waste management.

    “The impact of oceanic waste is an area I have documented for more than 8 years and am committed to pursuing through visual interpretation. In collaboration with scientists I am hoping it will ultimately lead to positive action in tackling this increasing environmental problem which is of current global concern”. – Mandy Barker

    Every day in Hong Kong over 1,826 tonnes of municipal plastic waste goes into landfill, the photographs that make up Hong Kong Soup: 1826 represent a selection of the debris which escapes recycling or landfill and ends up in the sea and washed up on beaches. ‘Soup’ is a term used widely in Hong Kong to describe this plastic debris suspended in the sea.

    Hong Kong Soup: 1826 has received global recognition, and has been published in over 40 countries and publications including: TIME; The Guardian; VICE; The Financial Times; Smithsonian; National Geographic; The New Scientist; ARTE; EI Pais; De Standard; Wired; Wallpaper; Fotografi Magazine and the British Journal of Photography.

    As well as featuring selected photographs from Hong Kong Soup: 1826, this exhibition features sketchbook and research materials specific to Barker’s time in Hong Kong.

  5. Aquatopia

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    Photo of Liu Yujia's artwork Waves at CFCCA

    Lui Yujia Waves at AQUATOPIA, CFCCA 2018 Photo Credit Michael Pollard

    Through a range of media – including moving image, film, photography, sculpture and installation – six artists from China, Hong Kong and the UK explore ways contemporary art can provide an alternative platform for addressing pressing realities and imminent disasters. At the intersection between fantasy and critical observation, different artistic positions examine matters of scarcity, pollution, uncontrolled development and effects of climate change; ultimately imagination and reality are tightly intertwined with one another.

    The exhibition, which runs until 7 October 2018 is curated by Marianna Tsionki (Research Curator, CFCCA & University of Salford). It marks the start of CFCCA’s ‘A Season for Change’ – six months of events and exhibitions which use contemporary art as a platform to raise awareness of environmental issues.

    This exhibition is sponsored by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, with additional support from HKBU Visual Arts Academy and Eduoard Malingue Gallery.

    As part of ‘Aquatopia’ CFCCA presents Horizon by Kingsley Ng, who works with ephemeral materials – such as light, sound, space and time – to create site-specific participatory experiences. Horizon is a playful installation, which invites visitors to share water and collectively create a symbolic horizon. This work was originally commissioned by MaD (Make a Difference) in 2014 and 1,500 participants took part at the organisation’s annual forum.

    Water fountain by Lucy+Jorge Orta is a sculptural installation that evokes the cycle of gathering, purifying and distributing water, this is part of the OrtaWater series exploring solutions for access to clean water.

    In Green Island, bags and water containers cast in cement lie amid a swathe of sand; in this installation João Vasco Paiva focuses on the impact that rapid urban development has had on the natural environment and resources in Hong Kong. The title Green Island refers to a cement brand from an island of the same name and plays with the irony of a company taking this title with so few green credentials.

    Chen Qiulin highlights tensions between the individual and society in context of China’s accelerated emergence as an international superpower in her photography. As part of ‘Aquatopia’ Chen presents a selection of photographs from her series Empty City, documenting her return to her home town Wenzhou, on the Yangtze River. The entire population of Wenzhou was relocated following the controversial Three Gorges Dam Project, the resulting images are both personal and socially relevant.

    The Edge of Vision, or the Edge of the Earth by Liu Shiyuan, is a film of synthetic futuristic representations depicting a watery earth and an uncanny procession of people mourning for humanity’s uncertain future. This work is purposively misleading in both audio and visual content, questioning the credibility of images and narratives.

    Liu Yujia’s Wave poetically depicts the ebb and flow of tides, triggering a contemplative oceanic feeling but also warning for climate change oceanic anomalies, as it lets the sublime power of the water speak for itself. Liu Yujia works primarily in video, creating a visual language wherein content, time and space flow endlessly.