Present Tense 2017: New Urban Legend, Resistance of Space Exhibition

When 17 May 2017 - 16 Jul 2017
Where Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco (Off-site)
41 Ross Alley (between Washington and Jackson, and Grant Ave and Stockton)
San Francisco, CA 94108
United States

Opening: Wednesday, May 17, 6-9pm

Auxiliary Programs:
Thursday, May 18
Towards Arts of Co-Liberation Panel Discussion

Saturday, May 20
Survival Series Book Launch

This spring, the Chinese Culture Center (CCC) of San Francisco continues its Present Tense exhibition series with New Urban Legend: Resistance of Space, an exhibition featuring four international site-specific projects that engage with local communities in an exploration of urban spaces and the issues embedded in them. New Urban Legend includes video, photography, and objects from works by Bay Area artists Weston Teruya and Laura Boles Faw, as well as two large scale projects in China involving more than 25 artists—one headed up by curator Man Yu in the Pearl River Delta, and the other by co-curators Michelle Wong and Wei Leng Tay in Hong Kong. The exhibition is curated by CCC Assistant Curator Ziying Duan and overseen by CCC artistic director and curator Abby Chen.

New Urban Legend is on view May 17–July 16, 2017 at 41 Ross, a community space and interactive studio located in San Francisco Chinatown’s historic Ross Alley where art, culture, and placemaking connect. Opened to the public in 2014, 41 Ross is managed collaboratively by the Chinese Culture Center and the Chinatown Community Development Center.

“This exhibition is truly an expression of the driving ideas behind the 41 Ross space and CCC’s curatorial priorities,” says Duan. “CCC has made it a centerpiece of its work in Chinatown to engage directly with community members in the urban spaces they inhabit and to explore the role of art in our city’s open and public spaces. We are particularly interested in artists who bring a social practice approach to art making. New Urban Legend brings all of this together in four commissioned works that ask artists to step out of the studio and take a deep dive into their surroundings.”

Oakland-based artist Weston Teruya contributes video documentation of a ritualistic performance in two parts entitled Ground. Ground uses the tragic legacy of San Francisco’s I-Hotel to examine geography, power, history, and displacement. Referencing the sledgehammer that Sheriff Hongisto used to break down a tenant’s door during the 1977 eviction of 196 residents on the edge of Chinatown, Teruya created and then destroyed handmade paper sculptural construction tools in performances at the site of the I-Hotel and other historic and present day places of displacement that took place earlier this year. Teruya’s project imagines a metaphorical inversion, where instead of reshaping the landscape, the landscape reshapes the tools.

San Francisco artist Laura Boles Faw’s project Towards a Prosthetic Power: Day One, One Day imagines alternative images of power for populations that often feel disenfranchised in the current economic, social, and political climate. Faw constructed wearable, absurdist beards inspired by those found on sculptures of female Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut. Playing with the farcical nature of the way ideas of power and access are communicated in public, Faw asked a wide variety of Chinatown locals and other residents to wear the beards and pose for photos, which she then projected on to public monuments and structures in San Francisco. Faw’s act of monumentalizing and historicizing individuals within a community of equals strives for visibility and access and points to the absurdity of doing otherwise. Video documentation of the project will be on view.

Gallery visitors experience Sightlines, a project initiated by co-curators Michelle Wong and Wei Leng Tay in Hong Kong, through virtual reality headsets. The project investigates how the places and sites we inhabit condition what and how we see, both physically and socially. The collaborators asked five Hong Kong artists—South Ho Siu Nam, Lam Kin Choi, Lam Wing Sze, and the duo C & G Artpartment (Clara Cheung and Gum Cheng) —to enter into an exchange of 360 degree images, reacting and responding to each other’s views. Their works explore Hong Kong’s crowded landscape, where sightlines are constantly interrupted by buildings, traffic, development, and demolition, and also consider ways to continue the vision of camaraderie forged in the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests of 2014. In addition to the virtual reality experience of the 360 degree works, the project will be represented in the gallery through photography and standard video.

Curator Man Yu’s social practice project Residents was carried out in the Pearl River Delta, an emerging metropolitan area in southern China, with collaborators Weiwei Liu and Hongbin Zheng. The Pearl River Delta was the first region of China involved in the great economic reform of the 1990s, experiencing most profoundly the benefits and consequences of rapid economic development. While the region has attracted much attention, its residents and their experiences have not. Yu enlisted eight artists and artistic groups in the area to develop projects in the public arena that address residents’ rights and living spaces. For his project Make Sea, artist Junyan He spent time at sea with the fishermen of Zhuhai to understand how the rapid development of that city was impacting the marine space. Artist Qiong Wu researches the identities of the unclaimed dead who are listed regularly on a government website. Other participating artists and collectives include Kai Fong Pai Dong, Lijiao Ma, LuWei HD Channel operations(Bill Peng, Nio, Yizhi Feng, Mi, Granting Lee, Peng Ou), Portrait of Speech Group (Yiwen Yu, Yujun Su, Shuqiang Wu), Sunset Haircut Booth (Xudong Yu, Yanming Li, Huansong Wu, Yuliang He), and the Research Group of Self-Build in Urban Villages (Zhiqiang Xu, Jieqi Chen, Yifan Zeng, Zhennan Li, Qiuying Lu, Xiaolan Lu). Documentation of these projects will be on view in the gallery.

New Urban Legend: Resistance of Space is CCC’s third exhibition in the Present Tense series, designed to showcase fresh perspectives on contemporary culture in Chinese and Chinese American communities and to serve as a platform for young, emerging artists in the Bay Area and beyond. Launched in 2007, the series has included Future Perfect curated by Glen Helfand (2015) and Chinese Character curated by Kevin B. Chen (2009) in collaboration with CCC curators.

New Urban Legend: Resistance of Space opens on May 17, 2017 with a free opening event from 6-9pm and is on view through July 16, 2017 Thursdays – Sundays 11am-4pm at 41 Ross, located at 41 Ross Alley, San Francisco, CA. Admission to the gallery is free. For more information, the public should visit or call 415-986-1822.


Participating Bay Area Artists
Weston Teruya has had solo exhibitions at Intersection for the Arts and Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco and Pro Arts in Oakland. Teruya has also exhibited at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Southern Exposure in San Francisco, Longhouse Projects & the NYC Fire Museum in New York, Hiromi Yoshii Gallery in Tokyo, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and more. Teruya has been an artist-in-residence at the Montalvo Arts Center, Recology San Francisco, and others. In 2017, he will be a Fellowship Awardee resident with Kala Art Institute and a deYoung Museum Artists Studio resident. Teruya is one of the three founding members of Related Tactics, a collective of artists, writers, curators, and educators of color creating projects and opportunities at the intersection of race and culture. And through a partnership with the online arts criticism platform Daily Serving-Art Practical, he recently launched (un)making, a podcast in discussion with artists, arts administrators, and cultural workers of color to discuss their lives, practices, and careers.

In the fall of 2016, Laura Boles Faw’s solo exhibition, Gum Heads, was shown at Ms Barbers in Los Angeles and in 2015, she had several solo exhibitions with her collaborative partner Cathy Fairbanks—Resonant Forms as a part of the Mystic Art Series and Mount Farallon at Scrawl Center for Drawing. She has recently participated in group exhibitions including Pulling Threads at Root Division, Everybody’s Ocean at Santa Cruz Museum of Art, MicroClimate Collective’s exhibition Wabi Sabi at Alterspace, and collaborated with Bonanza and DJ8ulentina for Heavy Breathing #3: The Pleasure Principle. In the last several years, Faw has been an artist in residence at Kala Art Institute and LOOP Arts. She is currently on the faculty of SFAI.

Hong Kong Project Curators
Michelle Wong is a researcher at Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong. She drives the Archive’s research projects in the city, including the Hong Kong art history research pilot project, in collaboration with the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Recently, she worked as assistant curator of the 11th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea. Currently, she is working on the Ha Bik Chuen Archive Project and London, Asia, a three-year collaborative project between the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London and the Asia Art Archive. Wong received her education in music and philosophy at Wellesley College, USA and in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, UK. Her research interests include mapping, magazines, and the intersections of sound, space, and technology.

Wei Leng Tay is a photographer and visual artist based in Hong Kong and Singapore. A recipient of the prestigious Poynter Fellowship at the Yale School of Art, her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries in Turkey, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. Tay’s recent solo shows include Untitled, Peninsular, Singapore, and The Other Shore, Australian National University CIW Gallery, Canberra, Australia.

Pearl River Delta Curator
Man Yu is an independent curator based in Shenzhen and Beijing and was former deputy director of Xi’an Art Museum, China. He has instigated bold curatorial projects in conservative institutions in China and has provoked with a series of art projects focused on urban issues, especially regarding workers’ right and ownership, as well as mental illness. His recent curatorial projects includes Between the 5th and 6th Ring Road in Beijing (2015).

About Chinese Culture Center

Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, a non-profit organization established in 1965, has managed the Chinese Culture Center since 1975 in San Francisco’s Chinatown. CCC elevates underserved communities, and gives voice to equality through education and contemporary art. CCC has over five decades of experience embedded in the community leading complex public art projects and events supported by Grants for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission, the SF Municipal Transportation Agency, among others.

CCC’s curatorial perspective integrates innovation, respect for tradition, a sense of the power of place, and a commitment to engagement with the local community through a process-driven lens. In the last decade, the organization has sought opportunities throughout the neighborhood for the presentation of art, from Portsmouth Square as the “living room of Chinatown”, to vacant storefronts, to Chinatown’s network of alleyways, through which the community’s lifeblood flows. Moreover, deep engagement with artists steeped in a social practice approach to art-making has been a core to its programming.

About 41 Ross
Situated in historic Ross Alley in San Francisco’s Chinatown, 41 Ross is a collaboration between the Chinese Culture Center and Chinatown Community Development Center. 41 Ross, launched in 2014, is an active community space that brings together the general public including local residents, neighbors, and visitors to engage in art and culture making activities. More than an art gallery, 41 Ross is a community resource space and interactive studio that promotes dialogue, appreciation, and creative engagement around local culture practice by everyday people in Chinatown. Its cultural programming serves to activate Ross Alley and other public spaces in Chinatown.

New Urban Legend: Resistance of Space is part of “Building Our Town,” a theme to anchor a series of art initiatives elevating the community and giving voice to equality, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

New Urban Legend: Resistance of Space is also supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Community Challenge Grants Program, with additional support from Grants for the Arts, the San Francisco Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Friends of Chinese Culture Center (C-Cubed).

Photo courtesy of the organiser/s

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