The exhibition Survival Techniques: Narratives of Resistance looks at human conflict and the ways individuals and groups endure long-term hardship. The fourteen international artists in this exhibition approach contentious political issues that, although individually nuanced, present parallel fundamental challenges to the human psyche. From various reactions to situations rising out of differences in ideologies, to the impact of nationalism, ethnicity, and power, the artists investigate a range of human travails—including exile, displacement, and the struggle to exist in a state of flux. Central to each artist’s exploration is an attempt to reconcile the present circumstances of a given territory with its complex and often contentious history. As the artists endeavor to bridge great spans of time, they reveal to us ways people wrestle with visions of the past and the future in order to survive. The individual artworks in the exhibition connect, echo, and converse with each other, and as one moves through the various projects, specific geographies collapse into generic and unnamed worlds. As these artworks expand past local specificity they reveal universal concepts and reflect the ways our particular era exists within a fluctuating narrative of broader human history. Curator Davide Quadrio conceived Survival Techniques while living in Thailand from 2008 to 2010, when he experienced firsthand the political turmoil of that country, including episodes of severe distress among his family members, neighbors, and the people of Thailand as a whole. With the revolutions in the Arab world, popularly known as the Arab Spring, we have continued to see civil resistance involving various measures such as demonstrations, rallies, and marches to express dissatisfaction with existing authoritarian regimes. Yet the situations in Thailand and the Arab world—and the reactions of its people—are not unique. History bears witness to ways that individuals, groups of people, and nations survive in times of political uncertainty and social unrest. ...... In his series of portraits from a project titled Blued Books (2008–09), Li Mu (b.1974 China) explores the ways teenagers serving sentences at the Shanghai Juvenile Reformatory live cut off from the surrounding world. As a way of interacting with these youth, Li arranged to have a library of his personal art book collection installed in a communal space at the reformatory so that inmates could read the books and meet with the artist for weekly discussions. The inmates were eager to communicate with, learn, and earn trust from the outside world, and the loaned books served as their bridge. Li’s project illustrates the importance of visual communication, as art books can transcend the constraints of different languages, educational backgrounds, and age to yield a deeper understanding of freedom through creativity. ...... Survival Techniques: Narratives of Resistance is co-organized by MoCP Director Natasha Egan and Davide Quadrio, cofounder of Arthub Asia, a group of independent thinkers devoted to contemporary art creation in China and across Asia, with the assistance of Allison Grant, MoCP Assistant Curator. A selection of works for this exhibition comes from the FarEastFarWest collection on extended loan to the MoCP. FarEastFarWest commissions and collects challenging artworks focused on contemporary Asia and its role in the world.
Work by: Yto Barrada Raphaël Dallaporta Rainer Ganahl Philippe Laleu Sigalit Landau Daria Menozzi Li Mu MRK Palash Uriel Orlow Navin Rawanchaikul Julika Rudelius Apichatpong Weerasethakul Tintin Wulia Zhang Peili Artur Zmijewski