Friday, March 18, 2011

Simon Leung's War After War & Wars I Will Have Seen

Simon Leung | War After War
Curated by Rirkrit Tiravanija at CUE Art Foundation
March 24th – May 15th, 2011
Opening reception Thursday, March 24th, 6-8pm

Wars I Will Have Seen | Simon Leung in conversation with Project for an Archive of the Future Anterior (Thom Donovan and Sreshta Rit Premnath)
Saturday, March 26th, 4:00-5:30pm

This event is FREE but RSVPs required, email jessica [dot] gildea [@] cueartfoundation [dot] org to reserve a seat.

“Simon Leung has been redefining the negotiation of territory and boundaries of identity and culture, both in physical and metaphorical ways…Leung has, in his works both past and present, consistently reflected on cultural conditions that run parallel in daily and intellectual life.”
--Rirkrit Tiravanija

The work of Los Angeles-based artist Simon Leung serves as a companion guide for examining the dislocation and disparities that are left in the aftermath of war. Pulling inspiration from objects, people, and writing that have been removed from
their origins—through the effects of time, circumstance or historical violence, or through his own tactical displacements—Leung recombines these parts to form new allegories that parallel and challenge the received meanings of his source material. This amalgamation of historical specificity and against-the-grain interpretation is rendered in ways that both bestow credence to his original subjects, and open new narratives that question their previous certainty. Using video, performance, and other media, Leung obliquely reinvents the war stories of our time.

On view at CUE Art Foundation, Leung’s first solo show in New York since 1996, is a new single-channel video exploring these themes: War after War (2011). Revisiting the artist’s friend and frequent subject/collaborator Warren Niesluchowski, War After War serves as an accompaniment to the an earlier work, Warren Piece (in the ‘70s) from 1993. Niesluchowski, born in a displaced-persons camp in Germany, immigrated to the United States as a child, only to leave again when he became an army deserter during the Vietnam War. During the last decade he has become, in Leung’s words, a “cosmopolitan nomad”, often spending his time as an international houseguest without a permanent home of his own. These periods of transience in Niesluchowski’s life, paired with his original displacement, provided timely inspiration for Leung – it is not coincidence that both of these pieces were created during times of war – the Gulf War and Iraq/Afghan Wars respectively. Indeed both works function as meditations on the dislocation—physical, psychological, ethical—that wars create.

In War After War, the viewer follows Niesluchowski, playing a version of himself, as he wanders through what seems to be a library and a guesthouse of possibly one of his hosts, where he reads, rest, sings “leftist songs” in several languages, and reflects on his collaborations with Leung over the past twenty years. Throughout the video are voiceover readings from Immanuel Kant’s essay “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch”, a text which considers the possibility of a world beyond war. For Kant, “peace” is a difficult, if not impossible ideal, given that that “the state of nature is rather a state of War.” This is where Leung’s work steps in – taking its audience to the place where ethical ideals and war’s remains look upon themselves, and we are left to consider the ramifications of wars, and to imagine the (im)possibility of living otherwise.

For additional information, please contact Ryan Thomas, Programs Coordinator, CUE Art Foundation, 212-206-3583, or email ryan [dot] thomas [at] cueartfoundation [dot]org

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