The exhibition, Survival Techniques: Narratives of Resistance, looks at human conflict and the ways we endure it, from various reactions to situations that rise out of differences in ideologies to the impact of nationalism, ethnicity, and power, and our efforts to communicate through those differences. The artists whose works fill this exhibition explore a range of human travails—exile, displacement, and the struggle to exist in a state of flux.
Taking the poetry and the power of imagery as its starting point, Survival Techniques looks closely at the layers of artistic creation, revealing an artist’s quest to reveal his or her truth which can often include manipulating the facts and playing with reality and fiction. The individual artworks in the exhibition connect, echo, and converse with the each other, and as one moves through the various projects, geographies collapse into a generic and unnamed world, revealing how art can expand local specificity into universal concepts that reflect our particular era in the fluctuation of broader human history.
Curator Davide Quadrio conceived Survival Techniques while living in Thailand from 2008 to 2010, when he experienced firsthand the political turmoil of that country, including episodes of severe distress among his family members, neighbors, and Thailand as a whole. With the revolutions in the Arab world, popularly known as the Arab Spring, we have continued to see civil resistance involving various measures such as demonstrations, rallies, and marches to express dissatisfaction with existing authoritarian regimes. Yet the situations in Thailand and the Arab world—and the reactions of its people—are not unique. History bears witness to ways that individuals, groups of people, races, and nations survive in times of political uncertainty and social unrest.
This exhibition is co-organized by Natasha Egan, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago (MoCP), and Davide Quadrio, cofounder of Arthub Asia, a cultural and artistic constellation of independent thinkers devoted to contemporary art creation in China and across Asia. A selection of works for this exhibition comes from the FarEastFarWest collection on extended loan to the MoCP. FarEastFarWest commissions and collects challenging artworks that conceptually describe contemporary Asia and its role in the world.