1. 404: Resistance in the Digital Age by RAGE Collective

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    404: Resistance in the Digital Age is a new exhibition concept developed for CFCCA by RAGE collective that looks at the ways in which civilians attempt to take back power from restrictive government in light of growing censorship and surveillance online. It explores the dynamics of online power relationships and the ways resistance movements now use the internet to counter restrictions such as hacktivist movements, revolutions organised through social media and the widespread use of memes.

    Inspired by the censorship method of oversaturation of information online, this new work is an immersive film and sound installation. It uses archival footage from 1989 alongside new contemporary material, allowing audiences to reflect on the parallels between 1989 and today.

    RAGE is an artist collective with a fluid approach to membership. The new work for CFCCA is conceived by five of its members. RAGE was established in 2016 by a group of international students who met while studying at the Royal College of Art. It was formed under artist Peter Kennard’s guidance.


  2. He Xiangyu

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    In May we will present an exhibition of works from He Xiangyu’s Lemon Project, and the premier of his new film Sylvain.

    This solo exhibition coincides with the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia where He Xiangyu is one of four artists to represent China.

    He’s dynamic and experimental practice can be seen as both a material testing ground and a conceptual laboratory in which the artist investigates and engages with a variety of personal, social and political subjects.

    Lemon Project refers to He’s ongoing artistic research into the use, perception and representation of yellow and lemon across 24 countries including China, Nigeria, New Zealand, Japan and the UK. In this project He shows that the etymology of ‘yellow’ and of ‘lemon’ are entwined historically across cultures, as well as having a symbolism that transcends borders of language, culture and religion.

    Through installations, paintings and sculpture the exhibition presents a range of themes and findings from the Lemon Project. Throughout history the colour yellow has been used as a symbol of peace, violence, life and death. Specific examples of use from both East and West include political weapons, border indicators, freedom, liberation and funeral motifs. For example in politics yellow was used in the Umbrella and Sunflower movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as having widespread use for representing liberal parties throughout Europe and South America.

    The new film Sylvain (2017-19) presents an alternative and metaphorical discourse about power and control as well as self-identification. In the story, the critical element of a violin – sometimes referred to as the âme, a French word meaning “soul” – has been replaced by a lemon as a mysterious symbol, which leads the protagonist Sylvain to his destiny. With an abstract and disconnecting narrative implying a tension of expecting one’s fate, it navigates through multiple emotional layers constructed by the absurdity of life.

    This exhibition is produced in collaboration between CFCCA and White Cube.


  3. Artist in Residence: Qiaoer Jin

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    Qiaoer Jin is our Artist in Residence as part of the Art for the Environment residency programme delivered in collaboration with University of the Arts, London (UAL). This programme was launched by UAL in 2015, led by Environmental Professor and internationally renowned artist Lucy Orta. Artists are invited to explore concerns that define the 21st century from biodiversity to sustainability.

    Jin primarily works with time-based media such as sound and video. Her practice draws attention to the relationship between human beings and the natural environment. Recently she has experimented with fictional story telling as a method to explore post-humanism. For this exhibition, Jin exhibits three video works: Ouroboros’ Death; Harbour City and Waterfall. 

    Ouroboros’ Death is a single channel video composed of video clips, found footage and composite still frames. It tells the story of a fictional city in which severe environmental pollution and dwindling natural resources result in human corpses becoming one of the city’s dominant energy resources. The dead bodies are buried in the central urban park, the city’s only green space, the corpses will then decompose becoming fertiliser for the plants. The energy that this process produces supports the park’s facilities and city life.

    Harbour City is a 2-channel video installation which explores the effect sound and light pollution have on the natural world. The work presents a fictional city in which street lamps and air defence alarms are relocated from the city to the beach in response to the negative impact of light pollution and sound pollution on marine animals. The residents of the harbour city experience disturbances to their everyday life, mirroring the disturbances sound and light pollution have on the natural world.

    The exhibition will also feature, Waterfall, produced During Jin’s residency at CFCCA. Waterfall invites us to question what should be characterised as nature by exploring how tourism shapes natural landscapes. While visiting Niagara Falls with her mother, Jin’s perception of the compositional qualities that amount to a ‘natural attraction’ altered. Jin noticed that the physical manifestation of tourism resembled the repeated patterns of the natural world. Waterfall examines our distinctions between a natural landscape and a landscape produced by humans.


  4. 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 a new commission by Miao Ying plus site-specific installations by five other leading new media artists: aaajiao, Lin Ke, Liu Xin, Lu Yang and Ye Funa.

    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.


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

    To mark this exhibition CFCCA are delighted to announce a co-commission in partnership with the University of Salford Art Collection of a new work by Miao Ying, Love’s Labours’ Lost. This video installation explores Miao’s own relationship with China’s hyper-regulated online realm, which she views as a ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, a traumatic bonding. In this work Miao Ying uses love locks left by lovers on the bridges of Paris as metaphor for the complex and conflicted relationship between China’s internet users and Chinese internet technology, security and access.

    As an artist from the first generation to grow up with China’s open policy and the internet, Miao explores in a humorous way the visual language of the Chinese internet and its users. As with the other five artists featured in ‘Chinternet Ugly’ she works online, often using GIFs, screen shots and lo-fi visual elements alongside physical installations.

    ‘Chinternet Ugly’ has been co-curated by Dr Ros Holmes, Presidential Academic Fellow in Art History at the University of Manchester and Marianna Tsionki, Research Curator, CFCCA.

    This exhibition was made possible with a Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Research Grant from the Art Fund.

  5. 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.

    Manchester Science Festival Logo

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.