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Curating Contemporary Art (MA)

Hyeona Shin

Hear the Light brings together work by artists Chibuzor Adiele, Anat Ben-David, Simnikiwe Buhlungu and Chen Zhe to explore awakening as a concept and metaphor capable of introducing new possibilities and raising awareness, restructuring our futures while shaping brighter, challenging presents. Starting from the conviction that the Internet is a luxury, the exhibition is an invitation to think together about our present moment, which is full of inheritances, repetitions and comings, while questioning the notion of accessibility.

Chibuzor Adiele contributes with a sonic triptych, a journey across sound, music and noise in which each element references the other. Using ‘imagination-technology’, Anat Ben-David in turn re-imagines space and time. Simnikiwe Buhlungu’s collection of narrative sonic material invites collective action, while Chen Zhe extends daily transient moments via audio tracks and recording into psychological experiences.

Both as a theme and impetus, awakening is a powerful concept because of the action and repetition it implies. In our age, it is strongly connected with political, social and environmental movements striving for change. We ask: does this notion hold the same potential to transform that the period known as Enlightenment did? Or that literature like Kafka’s Metamorphosis held? What can a non-human perspective of insects’, plants’ and planets’ awakening reveal in an unfamiliar world? How can cycles of suffering and awakening relate to the unfolding events of the post-information age?

With 2021 as a backdrop, Hear the Light is also an experiment in thinking about the question of connectivity. Are we really all online? In a world of unreliable or slow connections the only way to ensure that information is readily available to semi-connected or disconnected audiences is through the distribution of a physical copy. Alongside the idea of the USB as an offline copy of the exhibition, there is the USB as an artefact, allowing audiences to revisit the exhibition again at different times and places. USBs are displayed and available upon request at Gasworks.

Hear the Light is curated by Ludovica Bulciolu, David Lisbon, Kechun Qin, Hyeona Shin, Haoyang Wang, Shiying Wang and Duruo Zheng from MA Curating Contemporary Art Programme as part of the Graduate Projects 2021, Royal College of Art, London, in partnership with Gasworks.

Cover image: Yixuan Xu, Hear the Light visual identity, 2021 — © Yixuan Xu

Hyeona Shin's curatorial interests lie in the commissioning and production of artworks and projects within the public sphere. To her, curating is a process of opening up questions to the public through the critical dialogue working with the international artists and curators. She pursues a curatorial practice that embraces the wider role of public art from decorative sculptures to informational, expositional, didactic projects, further creates spaces within the social, cultural and economic life of a city and its people.

In her graduate dissertation, What does the Skulptur Projekte in Münster tell us about the importance (or not) of the relationship between site, public artwork and audience?, she considered the extraordinary chemistry between the exhibited sculptures, and the city of Münster. As part of her research, she also discussed a map of the Skulptur Projekte as a curatorial material which appears in front of the tripartite relationship, and which also sheds light on the audience as a vector to provoke site-specificity within the relationship.

For her graduate project, Hyeona co-curated Hear the Light, an online exhibition developed in partnership with Gasworks. The exhibition explores awakening as a concept and metaphor capable of introducing new possibilities and raising awareness, restructuring our futures while shaping brighter, challenging presents. The space of exhibition was expanded by adopting a hybrid mode, including new works made for and presented on a digital platform, and a USB containing artworks that can allow audiences to revisit the exhibition at different times and places.

Hyeona worked for Busan Biennale 2016, which explored Hybridizing Earth, Discussing Multitude. Prior to her time at RCA, Hyeona studied Fine art at Chelsea College of Arts in London.

Chibuzor Adiele, Areial Memories, Video, 2021 — © Chibuzor Adiele
Anat Ben-David, Many, Not Just One, Video, 2021 — © Anat Ben-David
Hear the Light USB, Display at Gasworks, 2021