The country is broken, though mountains and rivers remain.
– Spring Scene, Du Fu
‘Rift 隙’ by Kien Situ 司徒建 is a multisensory exhibition that explores cultural identity and displacement through sculptural works, video, audio, and scent.
The exhibition title combines the English word ‘rift’ with the Chinese character ‘隙’ (Xi), meaning ‘discord’, ‘interval’ or ‘opportunity’. Together, they evoke a geographic and cultural fragmentation familiar to Situ, through his Chinese-Vietnamese heritage and diasporic upbringing. ‘Rift 隙’ converts these fissures into sites of potential and becoming.
A key material in Situ’s practice is Chinese Mò ink, whose Chinese characters translate to ‘black’ and ‘earth’. Situ fuses this pigment with textiles and monolithic forms, which are both dense and light, fixed and mutable, fluid and concrete.
Central to ‘Rift 隙’ is an ‘Ink Pavilion’ walled with dyed silk. Inside this deconstructed monument lies a 64-piece sculptural work that references the ‘I Ching’ – an ancient Chinese divination text recognised as one of the earliest articulations of the arithmetic binaries crucial to present-day computer coding. Accompanied by a field of sculptural columns, a slow-motion film, and a multi-channel soundscape, this immersive installation takes audiences into a world that transcends the earthly and the known.
Situ’s suite of new work uses spatial and material experimentation to reframe understandings of distance and identity, interrogating boundaries between the natural and human-made, artistic and architectural, East and West.
Collaborators: Johanna Bear (Curator), Zoë James (Graphic Designer), Oliver Rose (Film Director), Oskar Wesley-Smith (Sound Designer)
Join artist Kien Situ 司徒建 for a gallery tour as he discusses ‘Rift 隙’ with collaborators, including curator Johanna Bear. Kien will offer insight into his creative process and the theories and philosophies shaping his work.
Join artist Kien Situ 司徒建 for an in-depth conversation with Professor Michael Tawa and Curator / Artist Mengyu Yan on the crossover points, parallels, and intersections between art and architecture with a focus on Chinese and East Asian perspectives.
Photos by Maja Baska ©2022