Exhibition

Returning to The Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean

2024.04.03-2024.06.10

TAG New Exhibition | "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean" Opens!

On April 3rd, TAG Art Museum’s new exhibition "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean" officially opened.

Located on the coast of the Yellow Sea, since the opening of TAG Art Museum in 2021, it has been concentrating on local topics. As the inaugural exhibition of a sustainable ocean-focused art project, "Returning to the Sea" offers a profound exploration of the ocean and reflects on the unique perspectives and sensory experiences of human-ocean relationships. It aims to deeply analyze the many issues facing the ocean today, showcasing the potential development and vision for the future of the ocean, and looking forward to our imagination and expectations for the future of the Earth's oceans.

Installation view of "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean"

Installation view of "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean"

This exhibition brings together artworks by 22 artists: Gao Lei, Guo Xiaotong, Huang Bo, Hu Wei, Jian Ce, Liu Jiayu, Liu Ren, Liu Yujia, Ma Jianfeng, Manolis D. Lemos, Ni Youyu, Petros Moris, Pierre Huyghe, Pu Yingwei, Giovanni Ozura, Qin Xiaoshi, Sun Xun, Timur Si-Qin, Wang Tianxin, Alex Ayed, Zhang Ruyi, and Robert Zhao Renhui, reuniting the seas of the world.

Installation view of "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean"

Installation view of "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean"

As voyagers in the ocean, artists encapsulate all these memory, data, and philosophy of the sea, carrying them in their baggage. The ocean is an unfathomable mystery, an ancient prophecy that humanity cannot decipher. As audiences wander through the exhibition halls, they immerse themselves in the "blue" and the ocean is thus seen, sculpted, and elongated.

Curator's guided tour of "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean"

During the opening event on April 4th, the curator, Tutu Zhu, conducted an on-site guided tour for the audience, leading everyone into the realm of the ocean. From the perspective of a first hand witness, she navigated through the exhibition halls, glimpsing a mysterious aspect of the ocean and contemplating the philosophical reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean in different maritime areas and island communities.

Curator's guided tour of "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean"

After the guided tour, curator Tutu Zhu and four artists - Hu Wei, Ma Jianfeng, Ni Youyu, and Qin Xiaoshi - jointly launched the first session of TAG Lectures during the exhibition, titled "Fluid Boundaries: Ocean, Islands, Symbiosis", for the audience.

TAG Lecture "Fluid Boundaries: Ocean, Islands, Symbiosis"

TAG Lecture "Fluid Boundaries: Ocean, Islands, Symbiosis"

Curator, Tutu Zhu TAG Lecture "Fluid Boundaries: Ocean, Islands, Symbiosis"

In George Steiner's "Language and Silence," he writes: " no Western eye, since Van Gogh, looks on a cypress without observing in it the start of flame." Islands provide artists with abundant material, while artists also offer diverse narratives and oceanic thinking. As curator Tutu Zhu remarked, the ocean is not just a figure of speech but a genuine reference to ocean-related content.

During TAG Lectures, the curator and artists shared with the audience their perspectives on the symbiotic relationship between the ocean and islands, the dialogue between their works and "Returning to the Sea," as well as the artists' approaches to viewing islands. They led everyone to understand, through the eyes and words of the artists, their stories with the ocean and beyond.

Artist, Ni Youyu at TAG Lecture "Fluid Boundaries: Ocean, Islands, Symbiosis"

Installation view of Ni Youyu's "Freewheeling Trip" SERIES at "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean" exhibition

In his "Freewheeling Trip" SERIES, Ni Youyu utilizes materials from others—old photographs—to create collages, akin to montages, breaking the linear clues of the sea and time. During the dialogue, Ni Youyu also discussed his connection with Qingdao, where there are photos of the Qingdao Zhanqiao from the 1970s in this collage series. The fictional collages meet the reality of the moment in flux.

Artist, Hu Wei, at TAG Lecture "Fluid Boundaries: Ocean, Islands, Symbiosis"

Installation view of Hu Wei's "Long Time Between Sunsets and Underground Waves" at the "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean" exhibition

Also growing up in a coastal city, Hu Wei, instead of focusing on the ocean as an image or symbol, he is more concerned about the differences between oceanic and continental orders. The oceanic order is a discrete, fragmented escape from the system.

In Hu Wei's works, he focuses on the bare lives scattered on the ocean and islands, much like in "Long Time Between Sunsets and Underground Waves," where the artist imagines himself and the camera as creatures lurking beneath the ground. Through the dehumanizing perspective of weeds, he observes human actions in transforming nature, using both fiction and documentary methods to uncover the hidden stories of Malaysian migrant workers.

Artist, Ma Jianfeng, at TAG Lecture "Fluid Boundaries: Ocean, Islands, Symbiosis"

Installation view of Ma Jianfeng's "Dinawan Island" series at the "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean" exhibition

“Islands are not entirely romantic; they may harbor crises, and with the ocean also being unpredictable, both in terms of environment and biology.” In 2019, Ma Jianfeng participated in an offshore residency program in Borneo, Malaysia. The island residency reminded him of Gauguin's retreat to the island after growing tired of city life in France, shaping his imagination of islands.

Contrary to imagine, the waterways of Dinawan Island are filled with trash, which is also one of the sources of marine debris. Therefore, in the "Dinawan Island" series, we can see artists using a lot of industrial waste and recycled materials such as cardboard and plastic sheets. They are weave together by cutting and combining to create a counter-image of human imagination of the ocean - souvenirs of marine debris.

Artist, Qin Xiaoshi, at TAG Lecture "Fluid Boundaries: Ocean, Islands, Symbiosis"

Installation view of Qin Xiaoshi's artworks at the "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean" exhibition

Artist Qin Xiaoshi has lived and stayed on "islands" such as Manhattan, Cuba, and Hong Kong. Her inspiration for the creation of the Pearl River Estuary comes from local chronicles: "Many stories recorded in local chronicles juxtapose fact and fiction, where mysterious maritime legends intertwine with daily life."

In her work, islands and oceans hold the most significant meaning as connections, treasure maps, havens for pirates and legends, a cornucopia of various memory fragments, and homes created by people without homes on land. Her creations attempt to confront larger time spans, face future audiences, and even non-human observers, such as animals, mountains, and wind.

Extending Activity Area of "Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean" exhibition

At the exhibition, audiences will witness everything extending from the ocean. Breaking away from continental-centric perspectives, art engages in a dialogue with the sea, exploring the intricate interactions between humans and the ocean. The turn towards marine humanities, returning to the sea, aims to correct our understanding and perception of the ocean and our relationship with it in the Anthropocene era, providing insights into the challenges we currently face.

The exhibition will run until June 10, 2024.

Edit: Du Songhua

Photos: Huang Shaoli/ Chao Qixuan/ Betty Xu

Poster Design: Yue Yue

©TAG Art Museum 

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"Returning to the Sea: Philosophical Reflections on the Anthropocene Ocean"

STAFF LIST

 

Founder

Meng Xianwei

Administrative Deputy Director

Shang Fei

Exhibition Co-ordination

Du Songhua, Liu Bingchen, Angela Meng

Technician

Wang Wentao, Wang Hongya, Wang Zhaofei

Media Relations

Jiang Xuefeng, Huang Shaoli, Chao Qixuan, Betty Xu

Marketing Co-ordination

Zhu Yaning, Tan Honglin, Chen Yazhen

Public Educations

Ding Xiaoyu, Wang Yuxin

Graphic Design 

Yue Yue

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