Kwok Ying: Photos, Archive, and Art Factory – Notes on My Exchange Trip to Switzerland
Kwok Ying is an independent curator based in Hong Kong, China. She has been invited by Pro Helvetia Shanghai to participate as an international expert at the 2020 edition of the Plat(t)form project conceived by the Fotomuseum Winterthur.
Kwok is the curator for Contagious Cities: Far Away, Too Close for Tai Kwun Contemporary and Wellcome Trust, the lead curator of LOOK International Photography Festival 2017, and curator at M+ for Samson Young: Songs for Disaster Relief as Hong Kong presentation at the 57th Venice Biennale.
What has she encountered during her research trip? Here’s an article from Kwok:
I have such an honour to be invited to take up a curator research trip in Switzerland by Pro Helvetia. A three-week research across 8 cities from East to West; from city to mountain, it doesn’t just give me a glimpse into the rich Swiss historical and contemporary photography, and also an insight into the local art and cultural scene.
Apart from the two weeks of self-organized trip, there are an intensive 5 days event and visits centring around Plat(t)form taking place at Foto Museum in Winterthur every year in the last week of January.
The Plat(t)form Winterthur is an extraordinary opportunity for 42 “emerging artists” each year to introduce themselves to the public and to a team of experts. The works will be viewed and publicly discussed in three days of intensive exchange. The standard of the young photographers is exceptionally high as they are selected to a double jury process (nomination and selection).
For the photographers and experts, but also for curators, publishers, collectors, gallerists, and the public, this weekend is an exciting visual experience with engaging discussions and intensive networking.
Apart from the Plat(t)form, colleagues from Pro Helvetia Switzerland have also arranged two days visit in Zurich and around, including studio visits, meeting with publishing houses, archive centres, and visiting various visual art exhibitions. I have selected a few special ones to share here.
Fotomuseum Winterthur is a leading institution for the presentation and discussion of photography and visual culture. From established names to emerging talents, the photographic works presented address contemporary issues while forging a link between the history of photography and its future.
Apart from the amazing exhibition, they have also published some really great books on various subject matters around photography.
Edition fink is an independent publisher of contemporary art that produces artist books and catalogs in short runs. The publishing house was founded in 1994 by Georg Rutishauser.
Edition fink has become an important mediation partner for a growing circle of artists and institutions. In particular, the close cooperation between the artists and the publisher and the joint development of the publications is what sets Edition Fink apart.
SWISS FOUNDATION OF PHOTOGRAPHY
The Swiss Foundation for Photography in Winterthur was established in 1971 for the purposes of preserving, presenting and opening up access to photographic works. It maintains a collection that now comprises over 50 bequests and some 50,000 original prints. Every year, it organises three or four exhibitions on its own premises, issues publications on the history of photography in Switzerland and purchases new photographs. The foundation’s collection is complemented by items on permanent loan from the Federal government and the internationally oriented collection of the Friends of the Swiss Photo Foundation. The Swiss Photo Foundation and the Winterthur Museum of Photography jointly manage a specialised public library focusing on photography.
We are lucky to have a tour by the Director, Peter Pfrunder. Together with the curator they show us the professional lab for reproduction, digital manipulation. They gave us details explanation on the difficulty of photography archiving, the challenges from the medium itself as well as a range of external factors, such as climate.
Last Tango is an alternative exhibition space located in Zurich, surrounded by a vibrant neighbourhood. Founded in 2016 by Linda Jensen and Arianna Gellini. According to the founder and curator they are interested in finding a potential in the compatibility, proximity and/or tension played out through the juxtaposing of practices.
In late January, they are showing Heavy Satin, a group exhibition by Lisa Biedlingmaier, Roman Gysin & Manon Wertenbroek. It is an exhibition that aims to explore the potential of ambiguity, be it through the de-polarizing of stereotypes or by testing escapist strategies. It blurs the boundary of decoration vs. fine arts, tastefulness vs. vulgarity, masculinity vs. femininity, artifice vs. reality. Roman Gysin’s wall sculptures are placed at variable heights. Lisa Biedlingmaier’s work can be seen from various angles and their see-thoroughness creates a multiple view. Manon Wertenbroek’s Zippers alters our interaction with the wall as the classical support structure. Together they present an intense hybridity combining traditional medium such as embroidery and crochet, with digital manipulation and fairy-tale characters.
CENTRE DE LA PHTOGRAPHIE GENEVE
Founded in 1984, the Centre de la photographie Genève has since 2001 been a research laboratory, hosting 4 to 6 exhibitions per year and publishing 2 to 3 books.
Attention Transition Part 1: “The Burial of Power” is solo exhibition by Swiss artist, Jean-Charles Massera, curated by the director of the Geneva Centre of Photography, Joerg Bader. Starting with writing, his practice associates texts with images is a combination of literature and contemporary art issues. He tries to deconstruct the languages used in advertising and mass media. Although the photography and video works in this exhibition are from some familiar daily setting but it gives viewer a sense of uncertainness. It’s like the “normal” moment just before something else happen.
Joly- A sound ecosystem for a dream space
Sound artist Alexandre Joly’s installation combines spatial structure and performance. The artist has developed a style characterized by sounds with a singular mode of diffusion – piezos, small speakers without a membrane the size of a host with a very particular acoustic behavior that changes according to the medium used as resonance body. The project is conceived as an assembly of 1600 of these piezos, organized in order to build an electroacoustic ecosystem with 16 channels that transform during three days the Salle du Galpon into a dream location. The installation works as an acoustic system that showing a number of miniatures contributed by several composers with whom Vortex has worked in the past.
Material Archive in St. Gallen
The Sitterwerk Foundation’s Werkstoffarchiv is a collection of material samples organized as a physical and digital reference work. The collection of materials from art production, restoration, architecture, and design was developed in cooperation with the neighboring Kunstgiesserei and The Material-Archiv network, and is constantly being expanded and made accessible. The Library and research centre is free and open for public use. All the research done can be documented and saved for future use with the interactive Worktable system.
The location of each book is documented on a daily basis with the help of RFID technology, a continuous digital inventory system. Whatever you leave it in on a table or a random bookshelf, the central computer will be able to tell you the exact location. It makes it possible for the books to be position in a site-specific, dynamic order.