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Nomads in the South: Rivers, Tunnels, Dampness and Constellations
Group Exhibition Pingshan Art Museum, Shenzhen
Date: 12.23, 2023 - 06.11, 2024

Artists: LIN Aojie 林奥劼 | 

Curator: Cui Cancan
Producer: Liu Xiaodu

This exhibition may be the first time that Chinese contemporary art connects the South, bringing together more than 90 young artists and art organizations from eight provinces and one city: Guangdong. Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi and Hainan.

We try to cut into the cultural situation of the South through portals of various knowledge systems. For example. "Rivers" exemplify the geographical and natural perspective of the South historically; "tunnels" are contemporary metaphors for urbanization and modernity; "Dampness" captures an individual's physical sense, mood, and temperament; and "Constellations" embodies our aspiration for the future, a romantic imagination of reconnecting the dots in the south.

We connect these seldom-mentioned regions to break the habit of dotting between the "ad-vanced regions." By bringing together Guangzhou and Shenzhen (urban hubs) to another part of the Pearl River Delta, such as Chaozhou, Shantou, and Fujian (maritime culture), we search in their vicinity for possibly overlooked rapports, seeking fluidity in Yunnan and Guangxi, Hunan and Jiangxi, Chongqing and Guizhou. Although the South may be de-centralized, we hope to undo the regional narrative in contemporary Chinese art, discovering new possibilities of disconnects and linkage. We chose Hunan between Hunan and Hubei, we picked Chongging over Sichuan Province, and gave up Shanghai and the area within its radius, such as Zhejiang and Anhui Provinces, and regrettably excluded the art organizations in Chengdu and Wuhan. However. give and take is alwavs the first step towards doing something.

We invited five local curators as observant to learn about the works in respective areas. Moreover, we tried to learn about local art workers with the awareness of neither bringing the gaze and measures from the contemporarv art system and hubs nor any bias from our deeply-rooted contemptuous prejudice and stereotypical confrontation between "the prosperous and the backward, "the center and the peripheral," the canonical and the self-organized. With
unpacking the dichotomous modus operandi as one of the aims of this exhibition, we search for the inherent connection within the Southern region between Guangzhou and Haikou, Chongqing and Guiyang, Changsha and Nanchang. The glimmer of regrouping these regions does not require a transition through an art hub, and it may also illuminate the crisis of art today.

Going South, to the sites and places where art happens differently than the city, listening and talking to local art practitioners was a work approach we adopted in encountering, learning, and understanding from these regions. Only this way, could we undo the "bias" when looking at the materials each artist provided us, and escape from those effective, standardized, single-perspective mechanisms. During the month-long tour of field-studies, we traveled to more than ten cities and interviewed nearly one hundred Southern artists, curators, and practitioners. We moved from mountains to mountains. through tunnels. over rivers. across cities. and to artists studios. Based on these visits, we tried to develop a direction for this exhibition; among vast choices of vocabulary such as mobility "site-specilicity," "nomad," and "transitory." the notion of the "nomad emerged. It is at once a philosophical concept derived from Deleuze and the idea of postcolonial constellation presented by Okwui Enwezor and a characteristic of Northern ethnic grouns. which are now reversed against the backdrop of globalization. Hence, "Nomads in the South is not about us but the artists state of being in various regions and the possible future they would create.

"Nomads in the South' consists of four parts: a featured film, "Southern Youth," in collaboration with director Ju Anqi, which will be screened in different regions. A large-scale art exhibition at the Pingshan Art Museum, featuring six units including "Southern Constellations," "Shenzhen Time," "South of 30 Degrees North Latitude: Nature Climate and Growth",
"Confronting the Same Dilemma of Urbanization and Internationalization," "Southern Cinema," "More Important than Region." Extended talks and roundtables, inviting practitioners from various regions to make cross-regional connections. A series of books generated a new archive of these scenes, including the five observants' essays, interviews with artists, and images collected throughout the process.


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