Aranya Art Center is delighted to present the group exhibition How Far, How Close, which features nearly 50 works by 14 artists and one duo, including newly commissioned works by 6 artists. Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese Daoist philosopher, divined the concept of "相去几何" (Xiang Qu Ji He) to convey a sense of abstract or ambiguous distance, both in physical and metaphorical terms. It often relates to questions of “how much?” “to what extent?” or “what kind of?” This concept corresponds to the English title How Far, How Close, which evokes a lingering sense of both progress and retreat: something seemingly in the distance, but in fact, is not that different.
The exhibition embodies feelings of displacement and serves as a starting point for exploring questions related to identity, belonging, and the abstract nature of distance. As we are already in a deeply polarized world filled with competition and difficulties, and we experience contradictions at physical and psychological levels, this exhibition explores supposedly irreconcilable differences. How can we transform history and the present? The here and now, there and then? Can we bridge the self and other into common subjective experience? In our precarious present, the act of bridging difference and overcoming barriers becomes the main theme of How Far, How Close. The works of art in this exhibition raise doubts about geographic boundaries and evoke complex emotions, which are not only related to self-identification and mobility, but also affect how we search for direction as we negotiate multiple social situations.
Through poetic narratives that illustrate how intimacy and detachment can coexist, the works of Leung Chi Wo+Sara Wang, Juhyun Cho, Pam Virada, and Jiang Zhi interrogate diasporic culture, an identity no longer confined to national definitions and imagined borders. Instead, diasporic culture exists as an ambiguity suspended in uncertainty. The works of Ishu Han, Joeun Kim Aatchim, and Woosung Lee depict overlapping layers of identity, woven through family, community, and social belonging. It also challenges fixed identity politics, highlighting a more complex interplay and dynamism.
Continuing throughout the exhibition space, the works of Tang Chao, Wang Tuo, Heman Chong, and Rachel Youn explore the intricacies and subtleties of everyday life, emphasizing individuality and privacy while resisting generalization. Nuanced and sensitive, their works explore intimacy and how it manifests in life at various scales. Lastly, Timur Si-Qin and Cao Shuyi use nature as a metaphor to challenge anthropocentric perspectives, while Zhu Yingying and Prae Pupityastaporn's paintings trace and retract memories, renegotiating our distance to—and closeness with—nature. The exhibition seeks to re-establish consensus among complex structures and contradictory forces, rejecting simple, linear narratives and denying fixed coordinates.
This exhibition is curated by guest curators Leo Li Chen and Mijoo Park, with the assistance of Gao Liangjiao, curatorial assistant at Aranya Art Center. The exhibition will be on view from October 29, 2023, through February 25, 2024.
This exhibition is supported by Arts Council Korea and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Shuyi Cao is a New York-based artist whose practice explores alchemical approaches to material, matter and knowledge osmosis. Through archeological speculation and ecological fiction, she contemplates the porous plurality of relations between sciences, technocultures, and cosmologies. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including recent solo and duo exhibitions at Hive Center for Contemporary Art and Para Site, group exhibitions at Aranya Art Center, Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing, Today Art Museum, Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Long March Space, Chronus Art Center, Banff Centre for the Arts, NARS Foundation, A.I.R. 13th Biennale, MASS MoCA, Chambers Fine Arts, among others. She is the recipient of the Today Art Museum Wang Shikuo Nomination Award, The New School Tishman Environment and Design Center Research Grant, MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists Grant. She is a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute, faculty at Parsons School of Design, alumni of NEW INC New Museum. She received a Bachelor of Laws, an M.A. in Public Administration from Fudan University in Shanghai, and an M.F.A. in Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design, New York.
Juhyun Cho (b. 1992, Seoul) is an artist living and working in Seoul. Cho’s interested in the rules and conditions that aren’t easily unveiled in the structure of reality. Through various media, her practices explore the objects that reveal invisibility. She received his BFA in Painting from Hongik University. Solo exhibitions of her works have been held at Insa Art Space, Seoul (2022), and Weekend, Seoul (2020). Group exhibitions and projects include Hapjungjigu, Seoul (2022), Space Uooyoung, Seoul (2022), alterside, Seoul (2023), Hall1(2022), The Reference, Seoul (2022), and among others. She published Black and Dark (2020) and received Art&Tech Research & Development, Arts Council Korea (2022), Exhibition Grant, Seoul Foundation of Arts and Culture (2020).
Heman Chong is an artist whose work is located at the intersection between image, performance, situations and writing. His practice can be read as an imagining, interrogation and sometimes intervention into infrastructure as an everyday medium of politics. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at STPI, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Weserburg Museum, Jameel Arts Center, Swiss Institute New York, Art in General, Artsonje Center, Rockbund Art Museum, South London Gallery, NUS Museum, amongst many others. Chong is the co-director and founder (with Renée Staal) of The Library of Unread Books, a library made up of donated books previously unread by their owners.
Born 1987 in Shanghai, lives and works in Tokyo. Han works in various mediums including video, installation, photography, and performance to examine the subjective nature of identity and difference as inscribed in the collective and the individual. Much of his work is derived from his personal experiences, from moving to Japan as a child to his life in Tokyo today. Using objects, his own body, and the bodies of others, he alludes to ideologies and societal norms inscribed in our gaze and our everyday behavior. By utilizing a poetic visual language that is often laced with humor, his work provides an imaginative sphere to negotiate those forces.
Han has participated in numerous exhibitions and residencies in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Taiwan, and China. In 2020, he was awarded the Nissan Art Award 2020 Grand Prix.
Born in 1971 in Yuanjiang, Hunan, China, Jiang Zhi graduated from China Academy of Art in 1995. Jiang works with a wide range of media, including photography, painting, video, and installation. Fiction and poetry have also been an important part of his artistic output. Consistently engaging with contemporary social and cultural issues, Jiang consciously positions himself at the intersection of poetics and sociology, while weaving mundane social and personal experiences into his works.
As one of the most versatile Chinese artists of his generation, Jiang Zhi has had two major solo retrospectives at OCAT Shenzhen (2016) and Times Museum in Guangzhou (2012). His work has also been exhibited by international institutions and biennials, including “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World” (Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA, 2017), the 9th Shanghai Biennial (Shanghai Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China, 2012), the 4th Guangzhou Triennial (Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou, China, 2012), Beijing Today Art Museum “The First Today’s Documents (2007 ), “Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China” (ICP and Asia Society, New York, USA, 2004), “Zone of Urgency”, the 50th Biennale di Venezia (Venice, Italy, 2003), and the 4th Gwangju Biennale (Gwangju, South Korea, 2002). Jiang was awarded the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA) in 2000, the Academic Award of Reshaping History (Chinart from 2000 to 2009) in 2010, and the Credit Suisse Today Art Award in 2012.
Joeun Kim Aatchim
Joeun Kim Aatchim (b. 1989, South Korea) is a painter and multimedia artist based in New York City. Aatchim received her BFA from New York University, as well as her MFA from Columbia University. Recent solo exhibitions include François Ghebaly, New York (2022); Make Room, Los Angeles (2022, 2020); Harper’s, East Hampton (2021); and Vacation Gallery, New York (2019). Recent group exhibitions include Harper’s, New York (2023, 2022); Jeffrey Deitch, New York (2022); Make Room, Los Angeles (2021); and The Drawing Center, New York (2019). Aatchim has received fellowships at Triangle Art Association (2021); Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2019); The Drawing Center (2018-20); Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (2017).
Woosung Lee (b. 1983, Seoul) is an artist living and working in Seoul. In his works he captures the portrait of today's society, and begins from paying attention to ordinary events. He received his BFA in Painting from Hongik University and MFA in Fine Arts from Korea National University of Arts. Recent solo exhibitions include Hakgojae Gallery, Seoul (2023, 2017), Doosan Gallery, Seoul (2021), Amado Art Space/Lab, Seoul (2017), Art Space Pool Seoul (2015). Recent group exhibitions and projects include DMZ Exhibition : Checkpoint (Paju, Yeoncheon in 2023, Kunstmuseum of Wolfsburg in 2022), Gangneung International Art Festival(GIAF23), Ulsan Art Museum (2023), Museum of Contemporary Art Busan (2022), Gyeonggi Museum of Morden Art, Ansan (2021), The First Jinan International Biennial <Harmony- Power>, Shandong Art Museum, Jinan (2020), Arko Art Center (2020), Ilmin Museum of Art (2019), Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (2019), and Gwangju Biennale (2018) among others.
Leung Chi Wo + Sara Wong
Leung Chi Wo
Leung Chi Wo (b. 1968, Hong Kong) uses photography, texts, found objects, performance, and installation to combine historical exploration with conceptual inquiry, to reinforce our doubts about memory, power systems and the ambivalence of history. By synthesizing and collecting vintage objects, archival materials and images, Leung juxtaposes quotidian events with parallel moments of political instability. His research-based practice often addresses the fissures and ambiguities existent within historiography, and and proposes that history is written by those in power. His recent research has focused on the colonial history and postcolonial reality of Hong Kong.
In 2001, Leung Chi Wo together with his long-time collaborator Sara Wong represented Hong Kong for its inaugural participation in the Venice Biennale. Leung had his survey exhibition at OCT Contemporary Art Terminal in Shenzhen, China in 2015. His works have been exhibited at international museums and institutions including NRW Forum (Dusseldorf, 2015), the International Studio & Curatorial Program (New York, 2013), Tate Modern (London, 2010), Museu da Imagem e do Som (São Paulo, 2008) and Queens Museum (New York, 2000). Leung has also participated in the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in Shenzhen (Shenzhen, 2017), Asia Triennial Manchester (Manchester, 2014), Marrakech Biennale (Marrakech, 2012), Guangzhou Triennial (Guangzhou, 2008), Shanghai Biennale (Shanghai, 2000).
Leung is also the co-founder of Para Site, one of Hong Kong’s longest standing independent art institutions founded in 1996. He currently lives and works in Hong Kong.
Born in Hong Kong, Sara Wong (b.1968) is the co-founder and currently a board member of Para Site. Wong obtained her BA in Fine Arts from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1992 and Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Hong Kong in 1997. She participated in artist-in-residence programmes at MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Bronx Museum of the Arts in the USA and the Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais in Switzerland. Her recent exhibitions include a group show at Pearl Lam Gallery (2013) and a site-specific installation at the Oil Street Art Space (2013) in Hong Kong. Wong is also a practicing landscape designer and currently Senior Lecturer at the Hong Kong Design Institute.
Prae Pupityastaporn(b. 1981, Bangkok) is an artist living and working in Bangkok, Thailand. She received her MFA in Fine Art from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany in 2015 and the Offenbach am Main, Germany in 2007. Solo exhibitions of her works have been held at Nova Contemporary, Bangkok; BUG Gallery, Bangkok; Gallery Maerzhase, Paderborn; and Gallery Schloss Neersen, Willich. She has been included in group exhibitions at Workplace, London; the National Art Gallery, Bangkok; Nova Contemporary Bangkok; and ROH Projects, Jakarta. Pupityastaporn’s work belongs to the permanent collection of the Ministry of Culture, Bangkok.
Timur Si-Qin (b.1984, Berlin) is interested in the evolution of culture, dynamics of cognition, and contemporary philosophy. He weaves them together to create a new kind of environmental art. Taking form through diverse media, installations of 3D printed sculptures, light-boxes, websites, texts, and virtual reality, Si-Qin’s work often challenges common notions of the organic vs the synthetic, the natural vs the cultural, the human vs non-human, and other dualisms at the heart of western consciousness.
Si-Qin’s long-term meta-project, called New Peace, is the proposal of a new secular faith in the face of climate change, global pandemics, and biodiversity collapse. Through New Peace individual works aggregate into a hyper-distributed, branded ecosystem of signifiers. Drawing from disparate disciplines like the anthropology of religion, marketing psychology, and new materialist philosophy, Si-Qin regards spiritualities as cultural software capable of deep behavioral and political intervention. New Peace is thus a new protocol for the necessary renegotiation of our conceptual and spiritual relationship with the non-human.
New Peace is an artwork, a church, a brand, and a memetic machine. Si-Qin is a New York-based artist of German and Mongolian-Chinese descent who grew up in Berlin, Beijing, and int the American Southwest. Recent solo exhibitions include: Ecotone Dawn, Kunsthalle Winterthur, Winterthur, CH (2023); Natural Origin, Société, Berlin, DE (2023); Take Me, I Love You, Von Ammon Co., DC, USA (2020); East, South, West, North, Magician Space, Beijing, CN (2018); Campaign for a New Protocol, Part III, Spazio Maiocchi, Milan, IT (2018); Campaign for a New Protocol, Part II, Art Basel Hong Kong, Hong Kong, CN (2018); Campaign for a New Protocol, Part I, Société, Berlin, DE (2018); Biogenic Mineral, Magician Space, Beijing, CN (2015); etc. Group exhibitions include: CHAOS: CALM, 3(rd) Bangkok Art Biennale, Bangkok, TH (2022); Feeling the Stones, 1(st) Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, Saudi Arabia (2021); 2(nd) Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Riga, LV (2020); Land of the Lustrous, UCCA Dune, Beidaihe, CN (2019); The Strangers from beyond the Mountain and the Sea, Asian Art Biennale, Taiwan (2019); 5(th) Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art, Regional Development at the Museum and Exhibition Center, Ekaterinburg, Russia (2019); 9(th) Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Berlin, DE (2016); etc.
Tang Chao (b.1990, Hunan, China) graduated from School of Inter-Media Art of China Academy of Fine Arts, now works and lives in Shanghai.
His works have been exhibited in Times Art Museum, Power Station of Art, Spain Moving Image Festival, Madrid, Art Museum of China Academy of Art, Hyundai Motorstudio, OCAT Shanghai, Tank Shanghai No.5, UCCA Edge, Jiangsu Deji Art Museum, Three Shadows Photograph Art Center and other art institutions.
The essence of Tang Chao's work is like Italo Calvino's suggestions on lightness in literature. For instance, he refines a whole script into one sentence: “The dilemma of being in a modern island, a paradise of self-exile.” And recently: “Several delightful dots covered of a series of weak voices.” When you focus on the tone and rhythm of the sentence, and express it though camera, you then get the shaking focus, light and the scenes. The words are not the most important content; they are sometimes softly whispered, stuttered, or even topsy-turvy. Of course he occasionally uses pictures, performances, installations or dramas for expression, sometimes even typing a few letters on the keyboard. Tang Chao is good at pause and press space, press and hold for a few seconds would be fine as well. He always tries to release some illocutionary meaning in every blank space with a straightforward manner.
Pam Virada (b. 1993, Bangkok) is an artist living and working between Bangkok and Amsterdam. In her work she explores intersections between the cinematic and temporal as means to navigate the ghostly forces and intimate stories within domestic spheres. Through mixed-media installations and moving images, Virada reconfigures existing contexts and narratives, investigating the themes of impermanence and intimate turmoil in spatial arrangements, objects, text, and expanded cinema. She conducts continuous socio-political and micro-narrative research, investigating various individual and collective memories.
Some of her past works have been exhibited and screened at Liste Art Fair Basel, Nova Contemporary (Bangkok), Eye Filmmuseum (Amsterdam), Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (London), Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art (Washington DC), Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Singapore International Film Festival, Meno Avilys (Vilnius) among others.
Wang Tuo (b. 1984, Changchun, China) interweaves Chinese modern history, cultural archives, fiction and mythology into speculative narratives. Equating his practice to novel writing, he stages an intervention in historical literary texts and cultural archives to formulate stories that blur the boundaries of time and space, facts and imagination. His work spans across film, performative elements, painting and drawing. The multidimensional chronologies he constructs, interspersed with conspicuous and hidden clues, expose the underlying historical and cultural forces at work within society. Embracing a uniquely Chinese hauntology, Wang proposes “pan-shamanization” as an entry point to unravel the suppressed and untreated memories of 20th century China. Through historical inquiry, Wang’s works, often unsettling and dramatic, disentangle collective unconsciousness and historical traumas. His more recent work critiques contemporary conditions of censorship, more specifically the tensions within the push and pull between artist and authority.
Wang has recent solo shows at UCCA, Beijing; Present Company, New York; Salt Project, Beijing; Taikang Space, Beijing, and recent group shows at National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf; Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Baden- Baden; Queens Museum, New York; Zarya Center for Contemporary Art, Vladivostok; PSA, Shanghai; OCAT, Shenzhen & Shanghai; How Art Museum, Shanghai; Times Museum, Guangzhou; National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung. Wang Tuo was an Artist in Residence at the Queens Museum, New York from 2015 to 2017. He won the China Top Shorts Award and the Outstanding Art Exploration Award for Chinese Short Films in Beijing International Short Film Festival 2018. Wang Tuo is the winner of the Three Shadows Photography Award 2018 and the Youth Contemporary Art Wuzhen Award 2019. He was awarded a research residency at KADIST San Francisco as part of the OCAT x KADIST Emerging Media Artist Residency Program 2020.
Rachel Youn (b. 1994, Abington, PA) is an artist living and working in New Haven, CT. Working across sculpture and installation, Youn sources materials with a history of aspiration and failure through online secondhand shopping. Youn rescues electric massagers from suburban limbo, fastening artificial plants to the machines to create kinetic sculptures that are clumsy, erotic, and absurd. Haunted by their immigrant father’s pursuit of the American Dream, their work identifies with the replica that earnestly desires to be real, and the failed object that simulates care and intimacy.
Solo shows include Sargent’s Daughters (New York, NY), Soy Capitán (Berlin, Germany), Contemporary Art Museum (St. Louis, MO). Youn’s work has been included in group exhibitions at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin, Italy), Gallery Belenius (Stockholm, Sweden), Contemporary Arts Center (Cincinnati, OH), Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Rome, Italy), and Night Gallery (Los Angeles, CA).Youn is a recipient of the Vermont Studio Center Fellowship and the 2020 Great Rivers Biennial Award. They received their BFA from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Youn is currently an MFA candidate at Yale School of Art in New Haven, CT.
Zhu Yingying, born in 1989 in Xi'an, she lives and works in Beijing, graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing in 2011, and graduated from the Experimental Art Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing with a Master's Degree in 2014. Her creative media mainly include painting, photography and video. In her paintings, she focuses on the subtle relationship between figurative and abstract, reality and surreality. By constantly hovering between reality and consciousness, the painted objects become the carriers for manipulating emotional consciousness and mobilising sensory memories, forming a semi-autonomous stream-of-consciousness way of image expression. In the photography and video projects, we recycle and extract discarded images from a broader social field, and continue to explore the various narrative modes of image composition, as well as the ways in which individual and collective memories are carried by the medium of photography.
Leo Li Chen
Leo Li Chen is an independent curator and researcher based in Beijing, China. He was the Director of Research in Magician Space, Beijing, and an independent curator in Hong Kong and mainland China. His main research focuses on geopolitics, performativity and moving images, to explore the complexity of identity and subjectivity that transcends geographical barriers. He has curated the exhibitions, Facets (Gallery Weekend Beijing Public Sector, 2023), The Racing Will Continue, The Dancing Will Stay (Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou, 2019); Today Could Have Been a Happy Day (Taikang Space, Beijing, 2018); That Has Been and Maybe Again (Para Site, Hong Kong, 2016); Adrift (OCAT, Shenzhen, 2016), and so on. He was a resident researcher at Asia Art Archive in 2016, and at MMCA Korea in 2019. He gained the New York curator residency fellowship by Asian Cultural Council in 2019.
Mijoo Park is an independent curator and researcher based in Seoul, South Korea. She has organized the discursive platform bul-teok and the Meddle Melody curatorial summer camp. She managed the RAT School of ART, a self-directed artist-run school, from 2014 to 2021. Her primary curatorial practice investigates various modes of institutionality and the roles of different institutions in sustaining artistic practices.
Park's curatorial exhibitions include Desengaño (Ateneo, Madrid, 2023), Neither Dark Nor Black (Weekend, Seoul, 2020), Anyang Public Art Project (APAP6, Anyang, as an assistant curator, 2019), Omni-presence (ONE AND J. +1, Seoul, 2018), and Wishy-washy Bodies (Centre A, Vancouver, 2017). She also works as an associate curator and producer for Frequencies of Tradition (Guangdong Times Museum, Incheon Art Platform, Kadist San Francisco, 2020-2021) and grandmothers (Post Territory Ujeongguk, Seoul, 2022).
She participated in the 7th Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course (2016), the Salzburg Summer Academy (2017, Austria), ARKO Creative Academy for Curators (2017), the Mountain School of Arts (MSA, 2019, LA), and the Young Curator Residency Program by Fundacion Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Madrid (2023).