The Human Factor

May 24 – June 3, 2012
Museo Pietro Canonica in Villa Borghese | Rome, Italy

Organized by: qwatz – artist in residence program, Rome
Artists: Liang SHUO, Charles LIM, Koki TANAKA, Hong-kai WANG
Curator: Beatrice Leanza

The Human Factor is a research project featuring artists Liang Shuo (China), Charles Lim (Singapore), Koki Tanaka (Japan) and Wang Hong-kai (Taiwan) organized by qwatz artist in residence program – Rome, and curated by Beatrice Leanza. The artists’ two months residency (April-May 2012) informed an exhibition of both newly created and selected works as well as a unique book of commissioned essays and interviews which I edited and was published by cura.books in November 2012 [The Human Factor – Rethinking Relationality (or the artist as bricoleur)].

A meaningful cross-section of contemporary Asian art, the practices here presented subtend to strategies of perception and cognition of reality where oppositional paradigms between otherness and individuality, nature and culture, man and world are abandoned to make space for an architecture of knowledge intrinsically ‘transformational’, ‘ situationally interconnected’ and ‘relational’. Drawing upon an acentric universe of experiential nature mobilized by a phenomenology of “becoming” that offers itself supplementary to a more inherently western-made anthropology of “being”, they collectively conjure the hypothesis of a space of action and contemplation of the world deliberately removed from the political terminologies of a ‘dichotomous’ predicament, to propose instead a culturally asymmetrical thought of social and philosophical inclusiveness – an identification with change and situated relations.

Featuring installations inclusive of photography, sculpture, video, sound and performance, the exhibition infiltrated the private rooms and studio spaces part of Museo Pietro Canonica in Villa Borghese by way of subtle strategies of juxtaposition and substitution, played out throughout the interlocking rooms with the rich collection of paraphernalia, furnishings and art objects found wherein. Spotted by means of a color-coded parkour the works were carefully interspersed inside Canonica’s domestic landscape of personal grandeur and monumental formality so creating a diachronic configuration of affinities among diverse life paths and experiences, the artists’ and Pietro Canonica’s (1869 – 1959). Canonica was an Italian academic and mannerist artist from the first half of the 20th century, whose diplomatic savoir-faire earned him the favors of ruling classes and conservative elites of foreign governments (from Russia to Thailand) where he often travelled as a political and cultural mediator – a proponent of classicism and high-culture that distanced himself from the conceptual and formal upheaval brought about by the historical avant-gardes. The works in “The Human Factor” operated with knowing irony aside the dignified art that surrounded them, bringing it back to a transformed social context in the present times.

Like the complementary book, the show highlights the four distinctive practices as focused critical explorations into the human mechanics of the architecture of knowledge (a ‘rethinking of relationality’) across four central modes of envisioning and creating the perimeters of its structure: that is, in the sonic space of speaking and listening (Musical Memory/Wang Hong-kai), in the sensorial and affective relationship with things and people (Situational Objects/Koki Tanaka), in the social and aesthetic process of inhabiting (Beautiful Evidence/Liang Shuo), in the construction of narrative dispositives mapping real and imaginary territories (Neutral Spaces/Charles Lim).

The project THE HUMAN FACTOR is made possible by the generous contribution of various supporters and sponsors:

Ines Musumeci Greco; Agi Verona; Japan Foundation; Cultural Affair Department, New Taipei City Government; FARE in collaboration with Open Care and with the support of Fondazione Cariplo, NABA – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, GAI – Associazione Circuito Giovani Artisti Italiani; O’A.I.R.; ArchiviAzioni;  ROMA CAPITALE, Museo Pietro Canonica in Villa Borghese – musei in Comune, in collaboration with Acea, BNL, Unicredit, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Acqua Claudia, Finmeccanica, Lotto, Vodafone, with the support of Atac, la Repubblica.