A discussion with Hong Kong artist Sampson Wong, Jonathan Solomon, Mechtild Widrich, Thomas Kong, Maud Lavin, Celine Setiadi, and Aram Han Sifuentes on global movements and protest creativity, theories of activist objects, and on the relationship between art and resistance.
Aram Han Sifuentes (BA, University of California, Berkeley; MFA SAIC) uses a needle and thread as her tools to examine immigration, citizenship, race and craft, drawing on both personal experiences and shared cultural identity. Her work has been exhibited and performed at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, Illinois; Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago, Illinois; Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Wing Luke Museum of Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle, Washington; Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum in Seoul, South Korea; Centro del Textiles de Mundo Maya in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico; and the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design in Asheville, North Carolina. Aram was a 2014 BOLT Resident and 2015 BOLT Mentor at the Chicago Artists Coalition. She is a 2016 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow and a 2016 3Arts Awardee. She is currently a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Thomas Kong is a Singapore registered architect and an associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Besides his teaching and leadership in the field of interior architecture at the school, his work is centered on design pedagogy and architecture as a cultural practice. He has published, spoken and conducted design workshops internationally on Asian urbanism and the sociocultural dimension of design. He is currently working on a multi-agencies, cultural heritage project that combines curating, archiving and social design for the aging community in Whampoa, Singapore. The project is funded by a 2-year grant from the National Heritage Board.
Maud Lavin is Professor of Visual and Critical Studies and Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute, Maud Lavin writes on genders, sexualities, and transnational cultural issues in art and mass culture. Her most recent book, co-edited with Ling Yang and Jing Jamie Zhao, is Boys' Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols: Queer Fan Cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan; it was published this summer by Hong Kong University Press, and will be distributed starting in Oct in the US by Columbia University Press. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other grants.
Celine Setiadi (BFA 2017) is an object designer and artist from Hong Kong and Jakarta. Her engagement in critical and discursive design invites introspection on the constant flux of social dynamics in a globalized, mobilized, and polluted world. She draws from quotidian object typologies and reinvents them into their discreetly absurd counterparts to invoke the imagination of alternate, radical, and often utopian realities. Her work has been exhibited in Hong Kong, Scotland, Chicago and Milan.
Jonathan D Solomon is Associate Professor and Director of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His drawings, analytical and counterfactual urban narratives, appear in Cities Without Ground (ORO, 2012), and 13 Projects for the Sheridan Expressway (PAPress, 2004). Solomon edits Forty-Five, a journal of outside research, and was curator of the US Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale. His interests include extra-disciplinary, post-growth, and non-anthroponormative design futures. Solomon received a BA from Columbia University and an MArch from Princeton University and is a licensed architect in the State of Illinois.
Sampson Wong holds a PhD in geography from University of Manchester, and is currently a lecturer at the Liberal Arts Studies department, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. With research interests on contemporary urbanism, art and the public sphere and socially-engaged creative practices, he divides his time among the roles of artist, independent curator and academic and works with an interdisciplinary way. As an active participant in Hong Kong’s civil society and artistic sphere, he has co-found the Hong Kong Urban Laboratory, emptyscape, Umbrella Movement Visual Archive, Add Oil Team and The Twenties.
Mechtild Widrich is Assistant Professor in the Art History, Theory and Criticism Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her research focuses on the intersection of art and architecture, on public art and activism, and on global art geographies. Her book Performative Monuments. The Rematerialisation of Public Art came out in 2014 with Manchester University Press. Mechtild published in the Journal of Architectural Historians (JSAH), Log, Art Journal, Grey Room, Texte zur Kunst, The Drama Review (TDR), Performance Art Journal (PAJ), Performance Research among others.