Open Studio: Thursday May 23 – Sunday May 26, 2019, 12-6 pm
Closing Event: Sunday, May 26, 2019, 4-6 pm
Re: Over everything which exists under the sky is a collaborative and interdisciplinary project taking place at Gasworks, London, from October 2018 to May 2019. A group of international curating students from the Royal College of Art has initiated the first curatorial residency at Gasworks to run alongside the institution’s long-established international artist residency programme. Over an eight-month period the curators-in-residence are transforming Gasworks’ Participation Space into a temporary research studio, questioning what it means to be a resident in both the art world and the wider geopolitical context of restricted mobility. Current discourses around human mobility are being explored through the lens of the non-human and the extra-terrestrial:
What are the links between human movement and that of extra-terrestrial objects, such as stars, planets, and satellites?
Does the ‘uprooting’ and ‘re-grounding’ of plants directly speak to the construction of identity in relation to displacement?
What is the relationship between horizontal and vertical forms of colonisation?
The research that has been collaboratively gathered over the duration of the project will culminate in an Open Studio between May 23 – 26 2019, mirroring the concept of the Open Studio at the end of each artist residency at Gasworks. The studio will be reconfigured through a new architectural commission by artist and scenographer Romy Kießling. Her work will facilitate the engagement of the audience by giving visitors a space to sit down, read, think and contribute to this collaborative investigation. The structure inhabiting the room hosts the findings gathered by the curators during their residency and provides a space for showcasing the research conducted in collaboration with different artists and their newly commissioned works.
Engaging with artists, botanists, astrologers, writers, and a constellation of other constituents, the project proposes new ways of encountering both human and non-human journeys. The title Re: Over everything which exists under the sky quotes Belinda Zhawi’s Dear Whinchat, a poem that touches upon themes of displacement and belonging from the perspective of a migrating bird.
Mati Jhurry’s practice concerns the tension between exoticism and the exotified. Through her research, she explores the labour and politics involved in selling paradise and in performing this fantasy – particularly in the hospitality sector. She is currently undertaking a durational covert performance; a long term commitment in which she works full-time as a cabin crew member for an international airline. Jhurry will engage with the project through video calls before and during the Open Studio, as a way to check-in with the curatorial residents and to share her experiences with the audience. The calls will reflect on the collapse of the boundaries between life and art in her travelings across countries while facing the demanding realities of her labour. In reference to the tracing of flight or trade routes, Helena Hunter engages with the Horniman Museum’s Natural History Collection, responding to its taxidermy archive. With Falling Birds, Hunter uses poetry and performance to reimagine the entangled worlds of the human and the non-human. In the Open Studio, she will combine words, taxidermy mounts and x-rays to recall exotic, endangered or extinct birds that never actually existed in Britain.
In his project titled Plant Hunters, artist Xinhao Cheng challenges and questions the modernisation of natural history, in part formed by the colonial explorations conducted by western ‘plant hunters’ in the Province of Yunnan, in China. Cheng will present his field study on botanical taxonomy, questioning the use of classification systems, the principle of knowledge production and the hidden power dynamics between East and West. Addressing questions related to colonial botany, Fatima Uzdenova traces the journey of a palm tree to the UK and the conditions and drivers of this displacement. At Gasworks, Uzdenova will further this line of research through audio-visual recordings of her explorations from Vauxhall to Kew Gardens. Visitors will be carried on a journey outside the Open Studio and guided by a flaneuse to investigate the uprooting and regrounding of plants. In doing so, the artist touches upon themes of migration, displacement, and the quest for identity.
The pursuit for identity, especially in a diasporic context, is also one of Marissa Malik’s interests. By using printmaking, writing, illustration and astrology, Malik explores and challenges normative narratives of cultural assimilation and exchange. At Gasworks, Malik will engage in conversation with artist, tarot priestess and poet Daniella Valz Gen to talk about a recent astronomical event, the passing of Chiron into Aries, and explore its relation with trauma in diasporic context. Niccolò Moronato also uses the extra-terrestrial as a space to project human stories. In his ongoing project Firmament, Moronato invites the public to imagine an alternative sky as seen from another planet, declared a possible “Earth’s twin”. During the Open Studio, the artist will lead Star Survey, a workshop that will ask participants to compose new constellations that will be added to an Archive of Potential Skies.
For the duration of the project and during the Open Studio, members of the public are invited to follow the process of research via Instagram (@gasworkscuratorialresidents). At Gasworks, the audience will also be able to join the research through live events with the artists and by engaging in informal discussions with the curators in residence. In gathering multiple voices and drawing from research, speculation and lived experiences, Re: Over everything which exists under the sky aims at shaping a form of knowledge production that is open-ended, cooperative and widespread.
Re: Over everything which exists under the sky is part of the Curating Contemporary Art MA Graduate Projects 2019, at the Royal College of Art in partnership with Gasworks. The Gasworks Curatorial Residents are Linnéa Bake, Yalda Bidshahri, Carlie Yixuan Chang, Claudia Contu, Victoria Gyuleva, Jing Jin, and Lika Tarkhan-Mouravi.