Retrospective in nature, the exhibition presents artworks that are specific to the city of Shenzhen. It is an attempt at proposing just one of many alternative art histories of the very young city. The artists - many current or former residents - have spent considerable time engaging with the anomalous specificities of Shenzhen.
The title of the exhibition, Permanent Migrants refers to the entirely migrant population of Shenzhen including its artists. Moreover, it brings into question the increasingly universal nature of contemporary visual culture by questioning traditionally geographically specific art histories.
In his photographic project, Bai Xiaoci documents on an epic scale the lives of the migrant habitants of Shenzhen. Jiang Zhi and Yang Yong comment on the consequences of rapid development in their images. Antithetic to such themes, Chu Yun’s intimate work escapes the visual dominance of urbanization and focuses on the daily lives of his Shenzhen co-habitants.
Liu Chuang’s unsettling work deals with the identity of an individual anonymous Shenzhener while both MAP OFFICE’s and Christian Jankowski’s works involve the documentation of and the active participation of factory workers. Daniel Knorr’s contribution to Permanent Migrants reverses the dynamic nature of the city by installing a LED light that tells the gallery of his distant location and in his artists book, by collecting objects found the Shenzhen streets and burying them between the pages. Guy Delisle’s work predates these as an account of nascent Shenzhen in his graphic novel, Shenzhen from his time as a manager in an outsourced animation company in the 1990’s.
Permanent Migrants is an exhibition that proudly recognizes the youthful art history of Shenzhen by temporarily pausing its perpetual dynamism.
Curator: Claire Louise Staunton