Conversations and Public Tours for Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs

May 17 – Jun 18, 2017



Thursday, May 25, 2017
7:00 - 9:00pm

Para Site is pleased to present a conversation between Gong Jow Jiun, curator and art critic, and Simon Soon, art historian and curator of Towards A Mystical Reality, part of the exhibition Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs. They will discuss the role of vernacular religious art and folk culture as forms of parallel cultural production, outside of colonially framed modern narratives on politics, economics, and aesthetics. Gong’s talk will depart from the recent exhibition Kau-Pué, Mutual Companionship in Near Future, part of the long term research in Taiwan on the knowledge of “Kau-pué realms”, self-organised social systems that can be traced to civil society during the Qing dynasty. In the exhibition that included contemporary and folk artists, Gong and the curatorial team identified a vernacular genealogy as an alternative narration to the linear art history of Taiwanese modernism as well as to the established narratives on politics, religion, indigenous identity, and history of folklore. Simon Soon will present his research on Datok Fatimah, a house temple in Klang that offers a transhistorical and transcultural bond between two migrant working class communities in this Malaysian port city across the twentieth century.

Gong Jow Jiun currently teaches at the Doctoral Program in Art Creation and Theory at the Tainan National University of the Arts. He received his Ph.D. at the National Taiwan University, department of philosophy in 1998. From 2009 he organised the quarterly art magazine Art Critique in Taiwan (ACT), as chief editor and chairman and established it as a public journal. Gong is also an acclaimed translator of writings by Gaston Bachelard, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Carl Gustav Jung into Chinese. His curatorial projects include Are We Working Too Much? (Eslite Gallery, Taipei, 2013), The Return of Ghosts (Hong-Gah Museum, Taipei, 2014), and Kau-Pué, Mutual Companionship in New Feature: 2017 Soulangh International Contemporary Art Festival (Tainan, 2017).

Simon Soon is a researcher and Senior Lecturer in the Visual Art Department of the Cultural Centre, University of Malaya. He completed a Ph.D. in Art History at the University of Sydney under an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship. His thesis ‘What is Left of Art?’ investigates the spatial-visual cultures at the intersection between left-leaning politicised art movements and the emergent modern publics of Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines from 1950s–1970s. His broader areas of interest include comparative modernities in art, urban histories, history of photography and art historiography. He has written on various topics related to 20th-century art across Asia and occasionally curates exhibitions, most recently Love Me in My Batik: Modern Batik Art from Malaysia and Beyond. He is also a team member of Malaysia Design Archive, an online repository on visual culture from late 19th century to the present day.



Myth-making in Contemporary Arts: A dialogue on “Lo Ting” with Vivian Ting and Siu King Chung

Sunday, June 18, 2017
4:00 - 6:00pm

As a reverberation following the closing of Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs and part of the programmes of R:ead#5, Myth - History - Identity, Para Site will host a dialogue between Vivian Ting and Siu King Chung on the mythologies surrounding Lo Ting. This half-fish-half-human creature is a contemporary constructed myth employed to evoke the origins of Hong Kong people. Ting and Siu will visit the different versions of the Lo Ting stories, focusing on examples from a series of exhibitions and programmes between 1997 and 1999, and will further discuss its relevancy today, as well as more broadly issues of myth-making in contemporary art. Myth - History - Identity is the fifth edition of the east-alia dialogue (r:ead) residency, a platform to share and raise awareness of issues of art and society in East Asia.

Vivian Ting is an independent curator. She graduated from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and read Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. She has curated projects at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath and the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. Her research focuses on the participation of art activities in the wider context of cultural consumption.

Siu King Chung is an artist, art and design commentator, and independent curator. He is currently Associate Professor at the School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the convenor of “Community Museum Project,” and is actively involved in arts policy and art/design curriculum development in Hong Kong.



Alongside the conversations, a series of public tours will provide comprehensive insight behind the concept of the exhibition. 

Wednesday, May 17
6:30 pm
hosted by Freya Chou, Curator of Education and Public Programmes, Para Site

Wednesday, May 24
hosted by Qu Chang, Associate Curator, Para Site

Wednesday, June 7
hosted by Qu Chang, Associate Curator, Para Site


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