Guangdong Times Museum presents "One song is very much like another, and the boat is always from afar"

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Guangdong Times Museum presents "One song is very much like another, and the boat is always from afar"
Liu Sheng, Xi San 14, 2019. Watercolor on paper, 54×38 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

GUANGZHOU.- Conventional diaspora studies in the scholarly field have focused on ethnic populations that are displaced voluntarily or by force due to religious or political persecution, economic poverty, or war. At the same time, it has anchored diasporic identities towards a binary of statelessness versus the territorialization of nation-states and homelands. While histories reverberate with their material and symbolic effects, internet communication continues to create slippages between image and meaning as a form of digitized iconoclasm, in turn, shaking our perception of historiography. Global frictions are no longer restricted to contacts and exchanges in the real world, where a multitude of transnational tracks emerged immaterially, and diasporic imaginations can be reproduced along the flow of information. In such a sense, diasporic mentality has become a reconciled state of digital existence. Navigating through disorienting, algorithmic mediascapes alongside recurring surges of the pandemic, we tend to notice the hindrances to global travel and migrancy, but ignore the diasporic spaces from below and the psychic dislocation of natives.

As an allegory, One song is very much like another, and the boat is always from afar pertains to the mediatized sound-space of boat and song. As a container of global processes and cultural encounters, the relational imagery of ship and music accommodates diasporic imaginations across time and space as well as the intersectional shaping of identities. They beckon to those who experience the disjunctures marked by the boundary of land and water, the tension of settlement and home, and the retreating of past and future. Interweaving the affective network of diaspora with voices and images of singers, sailors and laborers, the exhibition intends to stimulate a state of navigation through continents and borders, and to dive into the negative spaces and undercurrents of histories. Artworks presented in the exhibition are contextualized by scattered “islands”, and an assembly of offshore screenings, concerts and public events.

To recuperate diasporic intimacies and interracial encounters as a cross-cultural creation against the reconfiguration and the unsettling developments of a polarized world, the project has evolved dialogically with Pablo José Ramírez, the curator of Más Allá, el Mar Canta “Beyond, the Sea Sings” - Diasporic Intimacies and Labor scheduled to open at Times Art Center Berlin in September 2021. Conceptually, the exhibition also owes much to the exchanges and friendships realized through the “All the Way South” network, and finds a sense of belonging in these online communities leaping towards the future.

Participating artists: Larry Achiampong, David Blandy, Kent Chan, Andrea Chung, Adrian Melis, Laura Huertas Millán, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Jean David Nkot, Peng Zuqiang, Krish Raghav, Liu Sheng, Leyla Stevens, Au Sow Yee, David Zink Yi, Samson Young, Wu Chi-Yu + Shen Sum-Sum + Musquiqui Chiying

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