Multispecies Clouds

2022.12.27—2023.04.16

Artists: Carolina Caycedo & David de Rozas, Sergio Rojas Chaves, Sheryl Cheung, Rometti Costales, Patricia Domínguez, Jes Fan, Fei Yining, Liu Chuang, Long Pan, Uriel Orlow, Rice Brewing Sisters Club, Pamela Rosenkranz, Yi Xin Tong, Wu Chi-Yu, Trevor Yeung, Zhang Wenzhi, Zheng Mahler

Curator: Yang Beichen

“Multispecies Clouds” marks the first chapter of a three-part research-based curatorial project, “Who Owns Nature?” forthcoming at the Macalline Art Center. In this exhibition, we seek to present a metaphor for new interspecies relationships, which on the one hand, point to the networked structure of different life forms and, on the other hand, involve a global system of exchange, within which species in the Anthropocene move about through information, material, and energy. Within the “clouds”, the boundaries of species blur, effacing the distinction between the center and the periphery; hence their “identities” constantly intermingle, reshape and transform, and this interweaving process gradually evolves into a sprawling and vast open world.

Although humans often intervene on the boundary, these creative agents have their way of responding – like “the multitude” they continue to encounter, co-evolve with, align with, and confront us, sometimes intimately, other times at a distance. As anthropologist Celia Lowe notes, “Our futures lie at the junctures where forms of the human, animal, and microbe meet and where each sustains – and clouds – the limits and possibilities of the other.” Each species carries its cosmological model that transcends the limits of the senses, perceptions, and bodies, mixing organic and inorganic narratives and ultimately arriving at the metaphorical realm of animism.

The artists of “Multispecies Clouds” act as integrals of multispecies ethnographers and shamans who re-build these cosmological models through their interactions with plants, animals, viruses, microbes, and fungi and translating them into images, poetry, and politics. The ecstasy and illusion in “Multispecies Clouds” symbolize the vitality of life, implying that we hear the call of a Multiverse and respond with emotion and imagination. Here brews the sophisticated and dense“sympoietics”, which no longer focuses aesthetic attention only on what is usually considered “glamorous” but instead discovers, through visible and perceptible forms, those forms of life that are forgotten or obscured, or “translate” the stories between species, as what the tribal shamans once undertook – conjuring the energy of art here.

“Multispecies Clouds” is curated by Yang Beichen, director of Macalline Art Center, and presented by Huang Wenlong and the Exhibition and Research Department. The special public program “Meshwork” will be launched while “Multispecies Clouds” is on view. Macalline Art Center extends special thanks to Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council and Lanhui Furnishings for their support of this exhibition.

 

Research-based Curatorial Project “Who Owns Nature?”

“Who Owns Nature? ”is a research based curatorial project with three chapters at the Macalline Art Center. It must be acknowledged that the answer to “Who Owns Nature? ”has been different at every period of history. For an 18th-century Western colonizer, “nature” meant territory and the possessions therein, representing continued appropriation and plunder in the name of “the earth as a common wealth”. In the eyes of the home-bound or green room-bound naturalists, the exotic flowers and animals that arrived in Europe from the far corners of the world were gifts from God, and all they had to do was to implement nomenclature and taxonomy, and integrating “nature” into the knowledge and trade landscape of the empire.

In turn, we discovered that objectifying “nature” led to huge historical debts – which certainly explains the double entendre of the question (Who Owns Nature?). We owe something to “nature” precisely because “nature” is seen only as a resource to be transformed and accumulated, and is exploited and expropriated as a pure object until it is exhausted. This is a linear, “progressive” cosmological framework that clearly fails to account for the complex entanglement between us and “nature”. In the Anthropocene, we have long been a multi-scaled existence, just as “nature” has become a multinature at the planetary level, rather than a collection of homogeneous and unchanging entities at the ontological level. “Nature” is both within and beyond us, and our relationship with it is not human versus non-human, but intimately intertwined and interdependent, based on true diversity.

It is precisely in this sense that “Who owns nature?” seeks to re-examine our historical debt with “nature” and to explore a new non-linear cosmological model. This is an interdisciplinary project, in which we will work with different artists, scholars and cultural practitioners to stimulate lively and serious discussions on different issues.

“Multispecies Clouds” is the first chapter of the series.

 

Special Public Program: “Meshwork”

“Meshwork” is a special public program throughout the course of “Multispecies Clouds,” consisting of forums, lectures, conversations, podcasts, screenings and book clubs.

“The metaphor of ‘meshwork’ refers to how individuals and knowledges are entanglements; they emerge through encounters with others – as ‘lines of becoming’, they are not pre-existent, self-contained and separate entities.”(Tim Ingold) As Ingold points out, this notion describes how we build connections through encounters and contacts, and thus form the intersecting courses of action in personal, intellectual, and interdisciplinary research activities. Like “Multispecies Clouds,” “Meshwork” as a metaphor is also a way of "storytelling," a way of unfolding the emergent, the fluid, the contingent, the historical, and the narrative “lines of becoming”. We will invite practitioners from various fields to participate in this “entanglement” and to work together to create new indeterminate networks. “Meshwork” will take place biweekly during the exhibition period.

 

About the Curator

Yang Beichen

Dr. Yang Beichen is a researcher and a curator based in Beijing, China. He is the director of the Macalline Art Center (Beijing), and one of the members of the Thought Council at the Fondazione Prada (Milan, Venice).Currently teaching at the Central Academy of Drama, his research examines the agency and potentialities of the moving image in the context of contemporary technology and ecology, deploys media archaeology as a radical framework to excavate alternative modernities, and ultimately aims to re-interpretate history and geopolitics from a New Materialist standpoint. His curatorial practices grow out of and attest to his multidisciplinary academic approaches. Notable curatorial projects include “New Metallurgists” (Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf), “Micro-Era” (Kulturforum, Berlin), the Guangzhou Image Triennial 2021 "The Intermingling Flux" (Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou), “A MOON WRAPPED IN BROWN PAPER” (Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai) , etc. Between 2019 and 2021, he also led a three-year research project focusing on the art of moving image in China at the NCAF, for which he curated three research-based exhibitions: “Anti-Projection: Media Sculptures in Early Chinese Video Art”, “Embodied Mirror: Performances in Chinese Video Art”, and “Polyphonic Strategies: The Moving Image and its Expanded Field”. He has also contributed critical essays for the catalogues of the artists such as Cao Fei, Laure Prouvost, Omer Fast and HO Tzu Nyen, etc. His academic monograph “Film as Archive” will be published soon.

Macalline Center of Art (MACA) is a non-profit art institution located in the 798 Art District of Beijing and officially inaugurated its space on January 15, 2022. Occupying a two-story building with a total area of 900 square meters, MACA unites artists, curators, and other art and cultural practitioners from around the world. Through its diverse, ongoing, and collaborative approaches, the Center establishes a new site on the contemporary art scene. Guided by the “work of artists” and backed by interdisciplinary research, the Center aims to bring together a community passionate about art and devoted to the “contemporary” moment so as to respond proactively to our rapidly evolving times.