Tai Kwun A look at the contemporary eco-feminist group show 'Green Snake'

More than 30 contemporary artists and groups speculating on alternative environmental paradigms have been brought together by Hong Kong's Tai Kwon Contemporary to participate in the group exhibition. The Green Snake: Women-Centered Ecology. The exhibition continues till April 1 and takes its name from an ancient Chinese folk tale about two ghost sisters – White snake And green snake. Over the centuries and through many iterations of the story, both have come to symbolize the natural world's ability to „shed,” heal, and grow anew. Artists featured green snake Draw from mythology and folklore, along with their unique worldviews, to present an eclectic collection of contemporary artwork spanning multiple media, including installation art, painting, video art and more. The exhibition is co-curated by Catherine Weir, Artistic Director of the Madre Museum of Contemporary Art Tonaregina (Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Tonaregina), Naples, and Xu Tan, Senior Curator of Tai Khun Contemporary. They join STIR to discuss the show's relationship to its namesake folklore, and to talk about a particular elephant in the room: staging an ecofeminist exhibition in light of the criticism currently levied on the art world for its contribution to environmental degradation. .

Age of Oblivion, 2023, Tricky Walsh Image: Kwan Shung C

As Weir tells STIR, it's a shape-shifting story White Snake and Green Snake It is an eighth-century Chinese folk tale that continues to hold great cultural significance. Although there are many interpretations of the story, Xiaoqing or Green Snake's loyalty to her friend Bai Suzhen (White Snake) during her perilous journey to save her husband has made Xiaoqing a symbol of women's company and sisterhood. Weir and Tan discuss this, along with other mythologies centered on female protagonists explored by artists. green snake.

'Basium Sub Gada (Kiss Under the Tail)', 2023, Candice Lynn |  The Green Snake: Women-Centered Ecology |  STIRWorld
Pasiyam sub gada (kiss under the tail), 2023, Candice Lynn Image: Kwan Shung C

The work of American artist Candice Lynn, Pasikam sub gada (kiss under the tail)Responded to the film adaptation Green Snake (1993) Directed by Sui Hark. In the film, Green Snake questions human heterosexual love, rejects her bipedal form, and chooses to live as a ghost instead. Beyond Lin, her fellow participants delved deeper into other interpretations of the story and feminist readings of other folktales that intersect with female protagonists and themes referencing nature. In Veera's words, “Conversations with the artists as they prepared for the exhibition revealed several starting points for thinking about ecology and women-centered knowledge…” Interestingly, a common thread emerged across cultures is that snake imagery often involves metamorphosis and fluidity. . Kinetic sculpture by Nepalese artist Karan Shrestha Cloud children (2023) played with these themes, referring to the Newar people of Nepal's belief that snakes are guardians of water.

'Water Structure Refuge #4', 2023, Gao Mingao and Chen Jianjun |  The Green Snake: Women-Centered Ecology |  STIRWorld
Water System Refuge #4, 2023, Gao Mingao and Chen Jianjun Image: Kwan Shung C

Tan explains that the exhibition aims to point to the root of our current ecological crisis, which he and Weir believe are „extractive economies” that treat nature as a reservoir for resources. He tells STIR, “We know the impact of shipping; Not only carbon emissions, but also the post-pandemic roaring costs are unsustainable for companies. For this exhibition, we mostly produced locally to minimize shipping…”

For this exhibition, we produced mostly locally to minimize shipping…
– Xue Tan, Senior Curator, Tai Kwun Contemporary

'Genetic drift: symbiont III - Serpentus parthenocisus (serpent buter)', 2023, Rohini Devashar |  STIRWorld
Genetic drift: symbiont III – Serpentus parthenocisus (snake crawler), 2023, Rohini Devashar Image: Kwan Shung C

To be conscientious about environmental degradation, the curators also paid close attention to the amount of building materials required for the exhibition, and worked with Hong Kong architects BEAU, who prioritize sustainable design. Finally, the group also decided against producing printed materials to reduce carbon green snake Tai Kwon is the first contemporary art exhibition to embrace a fully digital guided experience.

  • Portrait of Xue Tan, 2023 |  The Green Snake: Women-Centered Ecology |  STIRWorld
    Portrait of Xue Tan Image: Abdela

  • Portrait of Katherine Warrior |  The Green Snake: Women-Centered Ecology |  STIRWorld
    Portrait of Katherine Warrior Photo: Courtesy of Katherine Weir

Dan concludes the interview with STIR by revealing that there is a learning curve for companies to improve their sustainability efforts, and that companies must take steps in the right direction, sharing information with each other as they go. While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what perfect sustainability looks like, let alone accomplish it, contemporary efforts at Tai Kwun green snake are commendable, and set a positive precedent for the gallery's future exhibitions.

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