PROJECT SPACE SPARE ROOM / 18 July to 14 August 2014
Spatial Dialogues investigates the environmental and cultural significance of water in three cities in the Asia-Pacific region: Melbourne, Shanghai and Tokyo. The video, sound, site-specific installation and online gaming works draw attention to cross-cultural dialogues about water, its relationship to climate change and how these impact on urban and regional ecologies.
This exhibition presents artworks by the Spatial Dialogues research project generated over the past three years. The project was generously supported by the Australian Research Council and industry partners Grocon and Fairfax Media, and investigated how art might initiate international cultural dialogues on the environmental and cultural significance of water in the Asia-Pacific region.
The artworks comprise a highly varied range of media and venues, many of which involved complex collaborations that came together in three major events: Drowned Worlds (Melbourne); Shibuya: Underground Streams (Tokyo) in collaboration with The Boat People Association; and Water and Reflections (Shanghai) in collaboration with teams from the Fine Arts College at Shanghai University and the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts. Whilst overviews of these are available on the Spatial Dialogues website at http://spatialdialogues.net/home/ curator Kristen Sharp has brought some of these initiatives to Project Space to give Melbourne audiences an opportunity to engage with the artworks firsthand.
Dominic Redfern’s video installations evince the careful attention the artist brought to the vital role of rivers in the region. For Drowned Worlds, Redfern drew detritus from the Yarra River, filming it in minute detail with magnifying lenses as part of a stream of images on a screen by the riverbank. Simultaneously, his video of a slowly melting drop of water appeared on the public screen of Media House, the local headquarters for Fairfax Media, and The Age. Several of Redfern’s other videos appeared on this public screen throughout the project, including some of the footage shown at Project Space from Redfern’s major video works projected in Tokyo and Shanghai.
At Drowned Worlds in Melbourne Simon Perry created a substantial chevron of sandbags by the river as a sign that as global sea levels rise, the Yarra will swell and extend beyond its familiar form. By contrast, in Tokyo Perry performed as a fisherman stranded in the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing looking for the Shibuya River which had long ago disappeared under the roads and buildings of downtown Tokyo. Whilst Perry’s performance certainly inspired local bemusement and curiosity, Larissa Hjorth’s Keitai Mizu (Mobile Water) project engaged pedestrians in a mobile play art game whereby they searched for small artworks of water creatures in a Tokyo park. Water creature artworks, both abstract and representative, were made by Japanese and Australian artists and then placed around the park for players to discover. After discovering the creatures, they then ‘captured’ them with their smartphones and shared the images online through Instagram and Twitter. The winners captured only Tokyo native water creatures. Hjorth in collaboration with Amani Naseem will create a version of Keitai Mizu for Melbourne.
In Melbourne Philip Samartzis collaborated with Japanese sound artist Haco in an evocative sound performance on the banks of the Yarra, whilst in Tokyo he worked with Christophe Charles from Musashino Art University and Seijiro Murayama on a series of live performances and recordings. In Shanghai he collaborated with media installation artist Wang Zheng on an innovative media installation giving spatial form to Samartzis’ sound recordings of rivers in the three cities. At the Water and Reflections event in Shanghai the project also collaborated with the notable Chinese artist Hu Jieming who made interactive installations on water pollution, and other Chinese artists who made public artworks ranging from ice sculptures and artificial floating islands to a traditional Chinese landscape ‘painting’ on a public building comprised entirely of plastic bags.
This final Spatial Dialogues exhibition gives Australian viewers the opportunity to see some of the focused research and significant international scale of the project, which also features in several publications referenced on the project website.
Linda Williams, 2014
Spatial Dialogues: Public Art and Climate Change is an Australian Research Council Linkage Project. The research team wishes to acknowledge the support of the ARC, our industry partners Grocon and Fairfax Media, the Schools of Art and Media and Communication at RMIT University, and our partner collaborators Fine Arts College Shanghai University, Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, Himalayas Art Museum, (Shanghai), Boat People Association (Tokyo), and Musashino Art University (Tokyo). A final thanks to the many artists, curators and theorists from Melbourne, Shanghai and Tokyo who participated in this project including: Ling Min, Wang Chunjie, Wong Shun Kit and the Himalayas Art Museum, Hu Jieming, Pan Yao Chang, Wang Zheng, Professor Ding Yi and postgraduate students from the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, Genichi Ide, Tadashi Iwamoto, Christophe Charles, Haco, Seijiro Murayama. Keitai Mizu artists include Masato Takasaka, Kate Shaw, Kate Rhode,Toshiaki Tomita, Ryuta Nakajima, Yasuko Toyoshima, Fleur Summers and Simon Perry. Larissa Hjorth would like to thank Professor Fumitoshi Kato (Tokyo), Kana Ohashi and all the Tokyo Keitai Mizu players, and Amani Naseem in Melbourne. A big thanks goes to Helen Addison-Smith for her online assistance.