Galerie Nathalie Obadia is pleased to present an exhibition of Shanta Rao and Jo-ey Tang, using the idea of a patch and its various connotations as a cognitive device and spiritual and material guide for their art practices. Referring to a temporary piece of software code that fixes a bug; a small piece of material to mend a garment; nicotine substitute; an indefinite period of time; a protective covering over a wound or an injured eye; a cloth badge worn as decoration or insignia of an affiliation; a small plot of land or a gallery space; as well as idea of two artists exhibiting together; and the viewer's consciousness as a kind of necessary patch to understanding.
The works of Shanta Rao (Indian-French. Lives and works in Paris) evoke the questions of becoming. Borrowing transformative trajectories that beckons to different techniques, computer and mechanical, the original objects - text, sound or image – are charged with the capabilities of coalescing with the living world and embodying as avatars: pixels acting like particles hit copper plates; flat ink absorbs dot-matrix images; hertzian frequencies translated into audio-digital data are molded into soft matter; gestures transform into diagrams and then into electronic landscapes; algorithms inform expanses of rubber; photographs of war and riots converted into vector-like curves, literary texts turn into silkscreen prints whose composition originates in the binary code.
Yet it is not a matter of a digital art displaying itself in immaterial arrangements, or becoming materialized by way of machines subservient to the computer paradigm like 3D printers but an art practice located at this point of convergence between the world of coding and its artisanal amplifications in the matter. Change of language, change of form, change of matter. Functioning in an autonomous way, as part of installations, her works are the results of a combinational approach mixing techniques at the crossroads of the two-dimensional and three-dimensional fields: silkscreen-printing, video, re-visited printing processes, computer generated video, photogram, moulding, with a predilection for soft materials like rubber, elastomer but also plastics or metals such as copper.
Rao presents in Patch works that fluctuate between the illusion of deep space and the tactile quality of the surface. Derived from matrixes of images based on the primary form of a pixel, her works define and defy this mutability with black on black ink, pitting matte against shiny surfaces and images which, by means of porousness, interpenetrate, and absorb one another, in between the abstract and the concrete fields.
Recent exhibitions include Presente, curated by Eva Nielsen and Joël Riff, Centre d'art contemporain La Traverse, Alfortville, France (2015); Liturgie, curated by Michal Novotný, Czech Center, Paris, France (2015); DUST: The plates of the present, February 2013 – July 2015, curated by Sonel Breslav, Baxter St / Camera Club of New York, USA (2015); 5C5C, curated by Clodagh Keogh, CIAC, Gennazzano, Italy (2012). Upcoming projects include a residency at FUTURA, Prague, Czech Republic; a group show curated by Damien Airault in Seoul; and the Bau Institute, New York. Rao is developing a project of experimental video installation supported by the DICRéAM/ CNC (National Film and Moving Image Centre).
Jo-ey Tang (American. b. Hong Kong. Lives and works in Paris) enacts the shifts of originary forms over time in his work, using the movements between medium, sound, image, objects, text, and painting, to form new material and technological genealogies, and to suture the physicalization of matters with philosophical and spiritual ideas about life and death, their commitments and their inevitabilities.
A case in point is the ongoing artwork Speaker (2010-present), in which a digital recording found online of a manual camera shutter operates at 1/60 second, has been stretched to the technological limit of around ten hours. It was first transmitted as an audio press release for an exhibition. This originary form – a void image – subsequently traverses object, video, image, and back to sound again: encased in a Mayan pottery and mid-century brass lampshade that has been oxidized by heat; a video screen showing the documentation of the sound object blocking a passage in a gallery; a digital image of the installation view printed on the back of butcher paper that had been used for protection in the creation of works of shoe polish on unexposed photographic papers; wind vibration transmitted by butcher paper colluded with the shoe polish marks on butcher paper using a self-built light-sensitive musical instrument in collaboration with the artist's sister Jeanie Aprille Tang, an acoustic electronic improvisation musician. All versions of Speaker is considered as a single artwork yet each occupies a specific time-space node, and are never shown together in entirety.
For Patch, Tang presents a triptych using his previous works entitled Documents from Like An Intruder, The Speaker Removes His Cap (2014) as a ground. Adhesive plastic sheets that picked up cigarette butts left by visitors directly from their original configurations in his solo exhibition Like An Intruder, the Speaker Removes his Cap at Galerie Joseph Tang, Paris, in 2014, are infused with drips of organic butterfly pea flower tea purchased by the artist on Ko Chang Island in Thailand. Each panel of the triptych, in which two are cut to a quarter of the original size, originates from different “documents”. The artist has dispersed the original panels in various triptychs to form what he calls“a state of inextricable separation, a self-extraction from the self”. The tea produces various shades of intense blues and purples recalling cyanotypes, and is used as food coloring in Southeast Asia, as anti-stress antidepressant in Ayurvedic medicine, as sexual stimulation in Chinese medicine, and has recently been researched to contain antimicrobial and anticancer elements. This gesture purports movements that is as much material and physical investigation as it is ideological and philosophical.
Jo-ey Tang was arts editor of Brooklyn-based literary journal n+1 from 2009-2013, and served as curator at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and is a regular contributor to Artforum.com. He recently co-curated Inside China – L'Intérieur du Géant, a traveling exhibition of emerging French and Chinese artists at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2014), K11 Art Foundation Pop-Up Space, Hong Kong (2015) and chi K11 art museum, Shanghai (2015). Recent projects includes Bargenale, a project by Michèle Lamy, Venice, Italy (2015); and Pant Hotel, a solo project at Taylor Macklin, Zurich in Hershey Beach, Galveston, Texas, USA (2015). Since 2013, he has been running the photogram project The plates of the present, with artist Thomas Fougeirol, in Ivry-sur-Seine. Upcoming curatorial projects include Ring The Clock, a 2cm diameter hole as an online platform; and FUTURA, Prague, Czech Republic.