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Phase Four | CURRENT: Contemporary Art from Scotland

CURRENT: Contemporary Art from Scotland
Phase Four
OCAT Shenzhen

Nashashibi/Skaer: Chimera
Corin Sworn: Variations of Assembly
22 May - 22 August 2021

There is no full stop to ‘the contemporary’.

With no conclusion, not even grammatical, ‘the contemporary’ refuses to stop. No pause for breath or rest in which to catch a glimpse, an illumination of what ‘now’ might be. Instead, revelling in an associative fugue, ‘the contemporary’ is inexhaustible and all encompassing.

Shuffling and swapping, substituting and mirroring, ‘the contemporary’ upsets and disrupts what is seen, known and imagined. In this discursive frenzy, metamorphosis and transformation operate as principle and technique, calculated then deployed to efficiently and so industriously extract and unsettle.

Querying and queering historical details, cultural capital and techniques of revolutionised management Phase Four of CURRENT: Contemporary Art from Scotland captures a passing likeness of ‘the contemporary’ in all its immediate and impatient necessity.

Encompassing two exhibitions from Corin Sworn and Nashashibi/Skaer, Phase Four of CURRENT dissects the fictions and truths absorbed and transmitted by ‘the contemporary’. Juxtaposing chronologies and histories, the exhibitions critically interrupt the singular economy of ‘the contemporary’ bringing tempestuous visions of ‘now’ into a meditative pose.

In this final fourth phase following previous iterations in Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan, CURRENT arrives in a ‘city of the future’, Shenzhen. Resisting the appeal of that future, CURRENT seizes the inherent discursivity of ‘the contemporary’, composing a concrete reality disciplined by the circumstances and radical insights that constitute this untimely moment.

Composed of artist’s films and prints, Chimera the exhibition by Nashashibi/Skaer traverses mythology, nature, language and interpretation to elucidate the protean metamorphosis underpinning ‘the contemporary’. Examining the act of looking and the transformative potential of film, Chimera reprises Paul Nash’s evocative 1944 painting Flight of the Magnolia in Our Magnolia and blurs the distinctions between the wild and the farmed in Lamb and its sequel Bear, a newly produced film which features a soundtrack created in collaboration with Cantonese Opera singer Zhuo Peili. Bear also provides the starting point for a new woodblock print developed in collaboration with Chinese artist Xu Zhiwei.

Corin Sworn’s solo exhibition Variations of Assembly encompasses architecture, sound, video, dance and poetry to explicate the undercurrents of monitoring, movement, sincerity and drive that score ‘the contemporary’. With a new multi-media installation Habits of Assembly II and an artist’s publication Folding Vesuvius created specifically for this exhibition, Sworn appropriates 20th Century time-motion-studies to unpick the false claims to virtuousness and efficiency declared by industrial discipline. Presented in Chinese (translated by Chinese writer Chen Dongbiao) and English, the poems and images in Folding Vesuvius explore the tacit modes of assessment folded within the managerial systems of industrialised labour, offering a sensory reaching towards the world.

Exhibition Documentation
Photography by Huang Jing. Courtesy OCAT Shenzhen and Cooper Gallery.

Corin Sworn, Variations of Assembly, 2021

Corin Sworn, Variations of Assembly, 2021installation views OCAT Shenzhen.

Nashashibi/Skaer: Chimera, 2021

Nashashibi/Skaer, Chimera, 2021. Installation views OCAT Shenzhen.

Artists' Biographies


Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer are artists with international solo careers, but they also collaborate as Nashashibi/Skaer.  Nashashibi/Skaer met in Glasgow and began working together in 2005. Their films have shown internationally to critical acclaim at venues such as the Berlin Biennial 5, Tate Britain, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art and the ICA London and they are represented in public collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Pompidou, FRAC Marseille, and Arts Council Collection, UK. Recent works have taken existing artworks as their starting point, such as Why Are You Angry? which utilises Gauguin’s vision of the south seas.  This film, premiered at Documenta 14, and formed part of a retrospective exhibition for Tate St Ives 2018. In 2019, Nashashibi/Skaer had a major show Future Sun at SMAK in Ghent. This brought together their solo practises and collaboration for the first time and was a site of fruitful cross pollination for both. A recent film Lamb resulted – their first collaboration with composers and musicians. The sequel, Bear, produced in collaboration with Cantonese Opera singers and musicians will debut at OCAT Shenzhen for CURRENT Phase Four.

Rosalind Nashashibi won the Beck’s Futures prize in 2003, represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2017. Lucy Skaer represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2009.

Corin Sworn

Corin Sworn’s work uses storytelling, material encounters and interactive technologies to explore logistics and connection. She is interested in the history of the gallery as a site for opening technologies while being a communicative apparatus itself. Recent installations have employed architectural augmentation, live feed cameras and surround sound to produce temporary spaces of encounter for collaborative acts. Previous work has depicted: chemical interactions as colour fields; histories of the camera as a means to disconnect knowledge from the body for distribution in industrial logistics, and employed to do lists and artificial sweeteners to explore how assessment techniques built for the assembly line have moved into the subject through notions of self-management and self-improvement.

Recent solo exhibitions include Edinburgh Art Festival (2019); Gallery Arsenal, Poland (2016); Toronto Film Festival (2016); Collezione Maramotti, Italy (2015); Whitechapel Gallery, UK (2015); Langen Foundation, Germany (2015); Sydney Biennial, Australia (2014). 55th Venice Biennale (2013); Tate’s Art Now (2011)

Sworn was awarded the Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2014 and a Leverhulme Prize in 2016 she is Professor of Contemporary Art at Northumbria University.


Image credits

Nashashibi / Skaer, Bear, 2021 (Film still)
Corin Sworn, Habits of Assembly, 2019 (Video still)

CURRENT: Contemporary Art from Scotland (Phase Four), a collaborative project between Cooper Gallery DJCAD, University of Dundee in Scotland and OCAT Shenzhen, in partnership with the British Council.

CURRENT | Contemporary Art from Scotland is kindly supported by the British Council, China-UK Connections through Culture, The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, Scottish Government. CURRENT is a direct result of the Research and Development Trip (January 2014) funded by Creative Scotland.