The Curatorial Incubator, v.17: On the Other Side – It’s Heaven: Program #4


The Weight of the Sun and the Moon, Yudi Sewraj, 2001


The Curatorial Incubator, v.17: On the Other Side – It’s Heaven

Program #4 – Spirit, Feeding

Curated by Joy Xiang

This fall, Vtape is presenting four programs developed by the 2021 Curatorial Incubator Incubatees after an exensive research phase where each of them viewed scores of potential titles to exhibit within their curatorial premise. Each program begins with a live introduction by the emerging curator or collective, followed by all the titles in their program, and ending with a live conversation between the emerging curator/collective and the artists in their program.

Please join us for these dynamic LIVE ON-LINE events. Each program is presented on a Thursday at 7PM ET and will continue to be available on the vtape website for the following three weeks until the next program rolls out.

On Thursday November 11, 2021, @7pm ET, Joy Xiang will do a short introduction, followed by all 5 titles in her program, ending in a LIVE conversation with three of the artists in her program, Guy Woueté, Yudi Sewraj, and Chooc Ly Tan. This is the final program in this year’s Curatorial Incubator v.17: On the Other Side – It’s Heaven!

Joy Xiang has written about her program:
“I started thinking of heavens as material dimensions negotiated by desire, across the stark realities of this planet and continuing legacies of capitalist-colonial exploit. Conceptions of utopia on earth have also been used to justify the exotification, erasure, and extermination of the lives already existing and sustained there, in those real places that counter the projected “ideal”—terra nullius (nobody’s land) applied by Empire to Turtle Island as a sublime wild to be plundered for resources; Gauguin’s paintings of Polynesia and the young girls of 13-14 that he sexually exploited, after having fled his family and life in France; Penglai 蓬莱, a traditional name for the island of Taiwan, also the lush home of the immortals in mythology, an abundance sought after by would-be Chinese colonizers, after the Dutch and Spanish (as noted by environmental historian and writer Jessica J. Lee in her book Two Trees Make a Forest).

“It’s a messy business. There’s no guarantee that our ideas of heaven are the same, even among those who unite in configurations to bring better possibilities into this world (after Lauren Berlant on solidarity, “We agree that we don’t want the world that exists, but do we want the same world?”). What does it mean to be inside or outside heaven? What if heavens were conceived of as already here on earth, being transformed in perpetuity, collapsing boundaries of heaven/hell/utopia/reality, enveloping the dirt, horror, violent incursions of this material world and its entire history? What if heaven were the force of will itself to bring, and keeping bringing, into possibility?”

Spirit, Feeding
Curated by Joy Xiang

1. Yau Ching
I’m Starving, 1999, 13:00
An erotic tale. In a blue-hued apartment in Chinatown, New York, a ghost and a woman attach themselves to each other and languish in small intimacies, biding and binding time for an existence worth living. The ghost misses her past life and the sensation of eating, devours paper menus to echo the woman who subsists on ramen noodles and takeout. The wind blows; they make their own fortunes.

2. Guy Woueté
La liste est longue, 2007, 2:26
The artist lies prone in bed as the camera roves over his figure, voiceover describing an uncertain dream about the future. Multi-coloured texts pulled from various sources, such as protest declarations from anti-G7/G8 actions, obscure and glitch his face and body with scrolling horizontal and vertical overlays. Wishes and fears repeat and echo like a mantra.

3. Yudi Sewraj
The Weight of the Sun and the Moon, 2001, 3:00
A figure piles large rocks at the bottom of a crater, under a pint-sized spinning sun and moon. From day to night, the labourer drags, rolls, and carries these stones to form a makeshift kind of altar. Audio clips from the Apollo 11 moon landing are contrasted by earthly heavy lifting.

4. Stephanie Comilang
Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Come To Me, Paradise), 2017, 25:46
Paraiso, a ghost in the form of a drone, flies among the cold sleekness of Hong Kong skyscrapers and finds purpose in being the vessel and transmitter for Filipina migrant workers to send videos and messages home. She finds the women when their signals are strongest, gathered together on Sundays, their day off, when they occupy and transform swathes of space in the heart of the financial district. The women create temporary structures where they meet, eat, meditate, surf their phones, away from the eye of work (by law, foreign domestic workers in HK must live with their employers). Even when the messages are transmitted, they live on in Paraiso’s cache/memory, carving out an in-between in the technological mediation between places, hopes, and desires. A “science fiction documentary.”

5. Chooc Ly Tan
New Materials in the Reading of the World, 2011, 5:20
Oublii!! Break the all-too-rational, coded rationality, of a relationship to physical laws which determine an idea of surrounding reality based on un-possibility and dying systems. What if botany was explored for its sonic potential, or words turned into spirited forces? Oubliism embraces cacophony, inverts norms, invents fragile forms. Atonal, with beatific dissonance and a collage of images, the work heralds the arrival of a cosmic and revolutionary vastness.


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