This principle of veracity is at the heart of the emancipation experience.——Jacques Rancière, The Ignorant Schoolmaster
“Nanyang” has been the Chinese name of Southeast Asia since Ming and Qing dynasty. The migration trend of “Xia Nanyang” (translator’s note: going down the Southern China seas) by people mostly from Guangdong and Fujian in modern history evokes our closest memory of this region, projecting an imaginary map of friendship, family history and political unity. Since the World War II, Southeast Asia has been formally established as the name covering the Indochina peninsula and the Asian portion of the Malay Archipelago. However, the discourse ondecolonization in recent years once again brought up Nusantara, a Javanese notion dated back to the 13th century, in an effort for self-identification. A series of narratives generated by this renewed title and the perception by the subjects compel us to rethink the inter-regional relationship and our inceptive attitude.
To participate is to create connection actively, and the establishment of a relationship is not based on a unilateral initiation. Rendezvous suggests a sincere participation that encourages both parties for equal engagement. The space hosts objects and generates experiences, offering the possibility of ongoing relationship building and validity of participation. The exhibition of “Unfolding Rendezvous” attempts to navigate participatory art practices from the varied practices of “participation”: practitioners in South China trying to understand the already highly interconnected Southeast Asian network, as a research method for artists' social practices, as an alternative exploration due to the lack of space, and the experience of building communality as alternative spaces in the face of different communities.
Through extended coexistence, presence, gathering, sharing and discussion, these hybrid forms of "participations" gradually move from "assemblage" to "happening", fabricating social imaginations and connections, expanding creative communities, opening up spaces and platforms in the imperfect art ecosystem, and upscaling the diversity of the art infrastructure. While constructing the discourse of their own practice, the artists as spatial practitioners and event organisers, are also able to encounter daily conversations that are different from those within the art system but still oriented around their work. Both the artists' individual creations and the communities in which they work grow and react to one another in an ongoing loop of happening.
“Unfolding Rendezvous: Relationality via Spatial Praxis” invites four artist-run alternative spaces and collectives in an attempt to present a mutually enriching state of art creation and platform formation. They have been engaging in lengthy indigenous practices in Ratchaburi in Thailand, Quezon City in Metro Manila, Singapore and Guangzhou through the media in which they exercising respectively, and renewing the action of "participation", from being socially “aware”,“interventional” and “engaged” to "participatory" in specific social contexts and experiences. Theses experiences of spatial praxis are scattered in the exhibition as individual rooms with different degrees of openness and distinctive characters, transferring the process of their practices for the audience who are not in sync with the art creation process, and inviting them to be part of this constellation.
by Cathleen Siming Pan