I Imagine Angels


Artists: Guillaume Apollinaire, disnovation.org, Gustave Doré, Max Ernst, Beatrice Gibson, Avita Guo, Zhangbolong Liu, Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn, Tomas Vu

Curator: Clement Huang

Time: 25 Sept 2022—19 Feb 2023

Location: 2F, The Cloisters Apartments, 62 West Fuxing Road, Shanghai

Perhaps no image is richer and more attuned to the symptoms of modernity than that of angels. French philosopher of science Michel Serres pointed out in Angels: A Modern Myth that, since ‘angels’ could be understood etymologically as ‘bearers of messages’, they play a role analogical to that of information technology in our contemporary world.

In a similar vein, Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben compares the paradigm of medieval angelology to modern bureaucratic organisation and establishes a surprisingly Kafkaesque correspondence between the heavenly and earthly orders.

Based on texts by the two philosophers, I Imagine Angels is an assemblage of ancient and modern images of angels who manifest themselves figuratively or metaphorically in the arts and technology, and in private and public mediums. Each angel has their own cosmological or political implications, and represents a speculative response to the recent global development of technocracy.

About the Artist

Guillaume Apollinaire (1880 – 1918) was a French poet, playwright, short story writer, and novelist, considered one of the foremost poets of the early 20th century, as well as one of the most impassioned defenders of Cubism and a forefather of Surrealism. 

disnovation.org is a research collective set up in Paris in 2012, whose core members include Maria Roszkowska (b. 1982, Poland), Nicolas Maigret (b. 1980, France), and Baruch Gottlieb (b. 1966, Canada). 

They work at the interface between contemporary art, research and hacking, and compose tailor-made teams for each investigation together with academics, activists, engineers, and designers. More specifically their recent artistic provocations seek to empower Post Growth imaginaries and practices by challenging the widespread faith that ‘economic growth’ and ‘technological fixes’ will solve the ecosystemic disruptions they produced in the first place.

disnovation.org’s works have been exhibited, performed, published and reviewed worldwide, including at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, transmediale, Berlin, the Museum of Art and Design, New York, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, FILE, São Paulo, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Strelka Institute, Moscow, ISEA, Hong Kong, Elektra, Montreal, China Museum of Digital Arts, Beijing, and the Chaos Computer Congress, Hamburg.

Paul Gustave Louis Christophe Doré (1832 – 1883) was a French artist, as a printmaker, illustrator, painter, comics artist, caricaturist, and sculptor. He is best known for his prolific output of wood-engravings, especially those illustrating classic books. 

Max Ernst (1891 – 1976) was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. Ernst was a primary pioneer of the Dada movement and surrealism.

Beatrice Gibson (b.1978) is an artist and film maker based between Palermo and London. Investigating ideas around voice, speech, collective production and the problems of representation, her films deploy notation and conversation as paradigms for their production. 

Gibson has recently had recent solo exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre, London, Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen Mercer Union, Toronto (2019) and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2018). Her films have shown at film festivals around the word, including at New York Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, London Film Festival, Oberhausen Film Festival, Courtisane Film Festival, Punto De Vista International Documentary Film Festival and many more.

Avita Guo (b. 198x) was born in Golmud, Qinghai. Grew up in Qinghai, Shandong, Russia and London. She received her BA degree in Ilya Repin State Academia of Fine Arts, oil painting. In 2012 she was offered scholarship for MA Fine Art degree in University Arts of London, she graduated from Central Saint Martins college of arts and design in 2015. In 2017 she paused her Mphi/PhD of Material and Visual culture of anthropology in University College of London. She was one of the chef-editors in feminism magazine HYSTERIA from 2014 to 2016, meanwhile she established the performance research group ‘White Torture’ with performance artist Bjork Grue Lidin and active often in east London underground art scene. Since 2017, she had experimental personal projects mainly in Beijing. 

Her current works pay attention on the collapse in between personal inner land and realistic political society, the changes of the political filed and personal position in the modernity at large, the changes of the poetic moments in between inner mind and outer cracks. From 2019 she started to re-paint again and trying to explore the relationship between painting and her formal video installation experiments .

Her recent exhibition include: Book of the Current, Mocube, Beijing; Diagonal, Magican Space, Beijing; An impulse to turn, Inside-Out Art museum, Beijing; Narrative of the Past, Xining Contemporary, Xining, etc. 

Zhangbolong Liu (b. 1989), artist and translator, focuses on interdisciplinary practices related to the production of scientific knowledge and the production of urban space.

His photographic works have been exhibited in Taikang Space, He Xiangning Art Museum, Inside-Out Art museum, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, among other institutions. 

‘– At weedy lots, under crumbling concrete, along shorelines we encounter the mythic in the mundane. Scenes of triumph, tragedy and revelatory beauty, spontaneously arisen from the interaction of organic and industrial processes. It smells of burnt copper and mycelium.

In these landscapes veiled in apocalyptic promise, teeming with life, we find the means to navigate through the present.’

Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn has exhibited internationally in Los Angeles, New York, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Chiang Mai and Brussels among other places. In their work natural processes merge with conceptual and sculptural gestures. The duo explores mythology, ecology, secular spirituality, altered states of consciousness and sexuality in an often visceral manner. They are most well-known for reframing the nature-culture polarity in installations and ritualistic performances.

Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn consists of David Ohlsson (b.1985, Sweden) and Dit-Cilinn (b.1983, Sweden/Thailand). They have worked collaboratively since 2007.

Tomas Vu (b. 1963) was born in Saigon, Vietnam and moved with his family to El Paso, Texas at the age of ten. In 1987 Vu earned a BFA from the University of Texas, El Paso, and continued his studies at Yale University where he received an MFA in 1990. He has been a professor at Columbia University School of Arts since 1996. In 2000, he was appointed the LeRoy Neiman Professor of Visual Arts. Since its inception, Vu-Daniel has served as Director/Artistic Director of the Neiman center. Currently, he lives and works mostly in New York City. 

Vu has exhibited nationally and internationally and has had solo museum shows in Japan, Italy, China, and Vietnam. He has had solo exhibitions at Milwaukee Institute for Art and Design (1998), Museum Haus Kusaya, Yokuska (2001), Centro Colombo Americano, Bogotá (2012) and the China Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing (2015). 

About the Curator

Clement Huang is an aesthete and anarchist based in Beijing, China, who writes, translates, and researches arts and culture, often with philological, iconographic, or psychoanalytic perusal. He is currently curator and researcher at Macalline Art Center.

About the The Cloister Project

The Cloister Project is Macalline Art Center’s special project space in Shanghai. The Cloister Project is situated on the fringes of Shanghai’s urban culture, embracing artistic intuition and novel creativity. The Cloister Project is the successor of the cultural salon, a place of ongoing encounters. The invited artists, curators, writers, and researchers are constantly shifting between the roles of host and guest, exploring the heterogeneity and spirituality of an artistic community today based on the common value of mutual respect.

The 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.