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In This Place


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In This Place


In This Place


"In This Place" was a solo exhibition held in Guangzhou, China after a two month artist residency at Lido Art Center.


The exhibition featured work created during a seven-month trip to Europe and Asia but mainly focused on my time in Nanting - a small artist village in Guangzhou. This body of work compiled of sketches, video and installation, satirized my lack of understanding of my new environment.


All photos by José Luis Vílchez


Frequently being an outsider in a new language and culture, I tend to look for visual clues to fill in the blanks. Naturally drawn to found objects, much of my work is inspired by mundane everyday items that suddenly become more fascinating in a new context. During my time in Nanting, I was drawn to the incredible textures and colors that make up the town. The gridded walls and neon plastics create a unique canvas for the creative culture there. With zero understanding of the Chinese language, and little knowledge of the culture in Nanting, I absorbed the objects of the village as evidence. Piles of rubble and old abandoned artworks became landmarks for navigating through the space.

During my time in Nanting, I was drawn to the incredible textures and colors that make up the town. The gridded walls and neon plastics create a unique canvas for the creative culture there. With zero understanding of the Chinese language, and little knowledge of the culture in Nanting, I absorbed the objects of the village as evidence. Piles of rubble and old abandoned artworks became landmarks for navigating through the space.

For the exhibition, we wanted the space to feel unfinished - like a large sketchbook of objects, art and words I had collected during my time in Nanting. We also decided that the show should have a lose, inviting atmosphere so that the art and the town, could be as closely integrated as possible. 

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Observations


Observations


Observations of Nanting Vol. 1


During our time in Nanting Village in China, my partner and I became immediately fascinated by the objects that inhabited the village — things that seemed absurd to us outsiders (piles of confetti, neon toilet bowl cleaners, discarded paintings) were just a part of the natural landscape to the locals. 


After many days of wandering around and absorbing the town, we decided to do an experimental video with some major constraints. First, we could only use objects found in Nanting. Second, we had to collect everything and shoot the entire film in one day. By simply rearranging the space and materials we were provided with, we wanted to see if we could express our own perspective of the space to others.

To our surprise and excitement, everyone was very interested and accepting of our project with many shop keepers and locals allowing us to use their property and objects for the film. This simple experiment opened our eyes to a whole new expression of Nanting without actually altering anything.


Observations of Nanting Vol. 1 was a collaboration with Jeremy Freedberg. Special thanks to the rest of the Lido crew for patiently modeling for us.


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My Time in Nanting


My Time in Nanting


Translations


The content for this book was first written in English, and then translated back and fourth from English to Chinese multiple times. Each translator only had the previous version. The purpose was to see how the text evolves and what gets lost as each person interprets it.


"In a new town, I understand nothing and everything. I know way more and way less than the people who have occupied this space their whole lives. I can't translate the culture or the language so I translate the imagery. The dirty trash can is full of clues. Old women sell vegetables at the market and gossip. I render their purple jumpsuits in my head. Here is a painting of a shirtless boy decaying on the sidewalk. There, another landmark of confetti in a pile of rubbish. The walls make grids that support sun-bleached posters. A mother hen blocks my route. In my town, there are streets and cafes and windows full of clothes. I have no idea where the crack filled with gum is. In this place, I know exactly where the pipes meet and where the river bubbles. At home, I know the color of my house but not of the door."