Circuit Director and independent curator Mark Williams talks with artists Chen Yin-Ju (Taiwan) and Sutthirat Supaparinya (Thailand) at the Asian Connections: Artists Talk Cultural Exchange symposium
Over the past 10 years, WARE has hosted 15 artists from the Asia and sent eight artists from Wellington to China, many of whom use the words “life changing” to describe their experiences.
The milestone was marked in September with a symposium at Wellington City Gallery by the 2017 WARE artist in residence Chen Yin-Ju (Taiwan) and 2015 artist in residence Sutthirat Supaparinya (Thailand).
At the Asian Connections: Artists Talk Cultural Exchange symposium, the two artists spoke about their practices, the importance of residencies and how spending three months in Wellington impacted them and the works they create.
Supaparinya, who while in Wellington developed works that looked at the relationship between wind and electricity generation, described the WARE residency as the perfect place to take some quiet time to study, research and reflect.
“I think being in that cottage is very useful for me because I can be there and concentrate… or [walk] around the city…. I think it was perfect for me at the time.”
Artist Sutthirat (Som) Supaparinya discusses the works she created while the 2015 WARE artist in residence
During her residency, Chen continued to develop her work Extra Stella Evaluation Three – the third instalment of the Extra Stella Evaluation series.
The work is Chen’s misanthropic look at the end of the end of the world, or more specifically the end of human kind.
“The end of the world for me is not like hell or underground where something is burning,” she says.
“The end of the world for me is beautiful, because there are no people; that’s my concept of the end of the world.
“It’s a project of questioning human beings, of humanity.”
Chen Yin-Ju describes the works she created for the Occulture: The Dark Arts exhibition and the series she worked on while in New Zealand.
The project took her on a road trip exploring some of the wilder places of the North Island where she fell in love with the bush: “This land has a power, of healing, and also embracing…I felt something was cleansing me, spiritually.”
As well as developing new works while in Wellington, Chen’s series Liquidation Maps is currently on display at City Galley as part of the exhibition Occulture: The Dark Arts, which features the works of five local and overseas artists.
To create the works, Chen worked with an astrologer in Taiwan to link five atrocities in Asia to specific astrological permutations – detailing the outcome in charcoal maps.
“I try to provide a different aspect for the viewers to read the history," she says. "There are many important political incidents [that have] happened in Asia but are forgotten.”
The Foundation’s director culture, Jennifer King, says residencies like WARE give the artist the luxury of time away from the demands of daily life, providing them with the space to focus on ideas for new work and the development of their practice. It also fosters relationships between international and local artists, she says.
“The WARE residency connects artists like Yin-Ju with Wellington’s creative community, so they can exchange ideas and gain new perspectives on life that may eventually emerge in their work.
The WARE programme is managed by Wellington City Council in partnership with the Asia New Zealand Foundation. Artists coming from Asia to wellington are housed at the historic Bolton Street Cottage for the duration of their stay.
From 2011 until this year, Wellington artists on the programme lived and worked at Beijing’s Red Gate Gallery, but this year saw the host residency change to the Chinese European Art Centre in Xiamen, China.