Here and Elsewhere – ACT Thesis Exhibition 2022
May 28 – June 30, 2022
ACT Student Gallery, E15-095
Opening reception: May 27 at 5pm
Opening reception co-hosted with MIT Architecture Student Council.
How to look at closeness from afar? Here and Elsewhere presents selected works of the graduating Art, Culture, and Technology cohort of 2022: Weihan Jiang, Kwan Queenie Li, and Faruk Šabanović. Studying at MIT amidst a global pandemic and the outbreak of a devastating war, the cohort has been grappling with challenges of restricted mobility, limited interaction, and a looming pessimism.
With a title referencing the 1976-released ‘Ici et Ailleurs’, the cohort followed Anne-Marie Miéville, Jean-Pierre Gorin and Jean-Luc Godard in approaching fraught distances across diverse cultures and geographies. Frustrated by the implausibility, the film was a pressing exploration of the agency of imagery against humanitarian crises; also a pertinent question in 2022, when distances are further abstracted in an eerie combination of a new war, explosive media, and new social orders imposed by an unending pandemic.
The exhibited works documented different artistic responses to historic moments and complex contemporaneity, through the creation of dancing machines, a temporary multicultural alliance, and the decoding of language. In search of closeness against overwhelming distances, Here and Elsewhere reflects on ACT’s framework of critical artistic practices, and rethinks the position of artists today as global citizens and community allies.
Weihan Jiang – I AM ANXIOUSLY WAITING
In the discrete spaces carved out by languages, what is muted in those translated words? The film is orchestrated by the moving images, slide projectors, and the operators (from the audience). Punctuated by dial tones, participants advance the slides of three projectors in the rhythm that can be decoded into Chinese characters. Collectively, the poem in the slides, the voiceover and the images compose a story about the double, aphasia and amnesia in a space lost in translation.
Kwan Q Li – NON-ARRIVAL, YET, IN PROXIMITY
Three collaborators were invited to temporarily inhabit the space with their evocative objects. They were tasked with prompts related to their cultural gestures without any assigned scripts. This process emphasized improvisation and collaboration, exploring the paradoxical entwinement of pleasure and struggle in this imaginative socio-political neighborhood. The characters’ relational joint, albeit precarious, seems to lie between the positions of strangers and friends. This contingent bonding is neighborly love in passage: a makeshift accompaniment in impermanence. the filming began with a curiosity to pick up the loose thread of discussion on cultural hybridity in the waves of nationalist populism and rising xenophobia.
Faruk Šabanović – option5
We are conditioned to understand and crave the narratives that emerge at the battle site, inspiring and supporting bare survival in hard times and celebrating the heroism of our endeavors during the periods of grace and peace. We maintain the polarization and division through the narratives embedded in street names, monuments, stories, plays, and texts – so the conflict remains unforgotten, unforgiven, and anticipated.
The lack of symbolism and labels in the elements before us, like blank pieces of paper, nonrepresentational geometry, and deconstructed apparatus repurposed for intangible labor, allows us to engage in narratives that hopefully one day perhaps become unburdened from our conflict-crisis-resolution frame of references. Like the ganzfeld effect, in which one who stares at a featureless view field their mind starts projecting and hallucinating features, our mind creates something out of the elaborate nothing.