When 20 Nov 2019 - 21 Nov 2019
18 Wooster Street,
United States

For Performa 19, Chou Yu-Cheng will examine systems of capital in building, construction and real estate against the backdrop of SoHo, a former industrial neighborhood and model for artist-led gentrification. Specifically, he is interested in urban renewal and real estate development in New York City, a place that is constantly rebuilding and undergoing revitalization. In a live, public performance at The Performa 19 Hub at 18 Wooster Street—formerly the Canal Lumber Co. and current location for commercial art gallery Deitch Projects—Chou imagines an interior construction site complete with scaffolding just like any New York city sidewalk. A forklift operator and manual laborers will move construction materials such as sand, bricks, bags of cement and lumber into various meaningless and absurd formations that echo the ups and downs of stock market indices and property valuation.

Chou explores the commodity through modes of production, class, and labor through what art critic Wendy Vogel calls his “administrative brand of conceptualism.”  In conversations with companies, museums or factories, his work unveils strategies of exhibition-making and art production, and questions the generation of value in the art world. Titles for his works take the form of keywords or hashtags on social media, representing a laundry-type list of products and concerns in contemporary life. Refresh, Sacrifice, New Hygiene, Infection, Clean, Robot, Air, Housekeeping,, Cigarette, Dyson, Modern People (2017) at Art Basel Hong Kong in 2018 featured a live performance in which giant bowls, plates and chopsticks are cleaned. The act of cleaning the huge tableware was connected to the JackerCleaning app, a Taiwanese on-demand home cleaning service.

Similarly employing an industrial work force as a mode of art production, Cloud, Mist, and Field for Sun Dried Noodles (2018) is a collaboration between Chou and Taiwanese traditional noodle makers. The work’s title is taken from the tagline “Green hills and clear water breed good noodles,” as hung on the gate of a traditional noodle factory in Shiding Town, New Taipei City. Here, he connects the threads between the cultural imaginary, local production and the division of labor. Other works such as A Working History – Lu Chieh-Te (2012) reveals the 45-year working history of Lu Chieh-Te, a 60-year-old temporary worker. In this work, Chou conducted interviews with Lu, revealing economic realities and working conditions of precarious employment. Chou later employed Lu in the exhibition—who became well-known from the work—as a security guard alongside his autobiography, at once confirming and generating contradictions in the fickle nature of temporary work.

Chou’s performance for Performa 19 further explores this relationship between worker and machine in service to capitalism. Machinery will move in a choreographed manner, as if a mechanical ballet, to a specially-commissioned post-rock soundtrack composed and performed live by Ian Vanek (frontman of American pop collective HOWARDIAN, ex-Japanther). Through calculated yet graceful movements of quotidian tools, objects, and cooperative labor between human and machine, the performance becomes a sort of theater of everyday life taken from the streets of New York and transported to the interior of an art gallery.

November 20 6:00 pm- 8:00 pm
November 21 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Image courtesy of the event organizer.
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