TOPOS

July 17, 2018
母抱淘宝子 / Mother Holding Taobao Child / Installtion view courtesy of the artists and 47 Canal, New York. Photos by Joerg Lohse
母抱淘宝子 / Mother Holding Taobao Child / Installtion view courtesy of the artists and 47 Canal, New York. Photos by Joerg Lohse

The Agency for Legal Imagination in-collaboration with TOPOS presents:

TOPOS at the Goethe Institut NYC

TOPOS is a new research platform bringing together experts and practitioners from the fields of art, law, economy, psychology, sociology, and politics to actively engage and broaden their perceptions on the relations between art, land, and law. The platform strives to expose and subvert the social-political implications of legal terms and constructions appearing deterministically beneficial or limiting to artistic creation which deals with property rights and human rights.

TOPOS #1: Track My Order: E-commerce as Infrastructure

The artist duo Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho explore objects to provoke critical speculations on labor relations, familial conditions, and economic mechanisms across cultural and geographic territories. By altering them, they use their metaphorical or literal meaning to suggest broader structural problems.

Recently, Lien and Camacho conducted extensive research in China on how e-commerce challenges social conditions. In their last show at 47 Canal, the duo focus on such innovations as “mother-child bed,” as well as photography studios for Taobao products, which formalize the only-child family structure and exemplify the workplace as a playground for children. A close examination of the mother-child relationship in a small town whose economy is largely driven by the Taobao marketplace offers the artists an intimate look at the intricacy of a rising middle-class family life in China.  (Exhibition Images: http://47canal.us/main.php?1=alec3ex&2=pics )

Using repetition and isolation, Lien and Camacho manifest a refreshing perspective on new circulations of capital, time, labor, and space in contemporary China. Moving away from a post-colonial concept of “the Other”, the artists interrogate linguistic and visual innovations within Asian contexts, connecting economic ambitions with the re-imagination of childhood and motherhood. While acknowledging binary paradigms as outdated, one may ask what we are left with after rejecting the central vs. peripheral model; can we form new centers? New circulations? Is there a new model for art forming under globalization and transnationalism?

Current legal restrictions and economic structures produce new subjectivities: as the Internet firewall protects Chinese on-line services from global competitors, Alibaba/Taobao and other e-commerce companies are playing deterministic roles in re-defining industrial paradigms. As a result, new questions arise: How is Taobao shaping new labor relations? How are Taobao Villages becoming leading e-commerce hubs? How is e-commerce economy changing Chinese society and culture?

TOPOS will host a conversation regarding e-commerce in China that seeks to address these queries. The artist Amy Lien will be joined Zhang Lin, an Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at the University of New Hampshire, and Qian Linliang, an Anthropology Scholar at Australian National University. Together, they will be discussing Lien’s artwork along with their own area of expertise on law and commerce in China. We hope to extrapolate artistic concepts and critical approaches that inspire critical thinking in-close proximity with legal and social issues.

Speakers:

Amy Lien, (b. 1987, Dallas, USA) is an artist working collaboratively with Enzo Camacho (b. 1985, Manila, Philippines), primarily between Manila, New York and Berlin. She received their bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, and MFA degree from the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg, Germany. Lien and Camacho have had previous solo exhibitions at the Hessel Museum at Bard (Annadale-on-Hudson, USA), Green Papaya Art Projects (Quezon City, Philippines), 47 Canal (New York, USA) and Mathew Gallery (Berlin, Germany), and have participated in group exhibitions at the Kestnergesellschaft (Hannover, Germany), the Jim Thompson Art Center (Bangkok, Thailand), and the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing, China). They have been Artists-in-Residence at Sa Sa Art Projects (Phnom Penh, Cambodia), am Artspace (Shanghai, China), the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art (Singapore)  and Gluck50 (Milan, Italy). Their writing has been published in Flash Art and Texte Zur Kunst, among others.

Lin Zhang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of New Hampshire where she teaches courses on global digital capitalism, media studies, and East Asian media and popular culture. She holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California (2017), and a M.A. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University (2009). Her research focuses on the culture, economy, and politics of digital capitalism as it intersects with nation, class, gender, and race in the context of globalization. She is particularly interested in new technologies’ impact on work and changing labor practices and subjectivities in non-Western context. She has published her interdisciplinary work in academic journals such as the Journal of Consumer Culture, New Media and Society, International Journal of Cultural Studies, International Journal of Communication, Feminist Media Studies, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, and China Information etc. Her work has won several top paper awards was supported by internal and external grants and fellowships. She is the book review editor of the Chinese Journal of Communication. Currently she is writing a book about the hybridity and contradiction of digital work and the remaking of Chinese societies and Chinese selves through IT entrepreneurial labor in post-2008 China.

Qian Linliang is a PhD candidate at the Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU. His current research interests include social studies of information technology and new media, economic anthropology, and the anthropology of morality. He has published articles in several international journals, including Journal of Contemporary China, China Information, Dialectical Anthropology, and Sexuality & Disability. His PhD project investigates the impact of e-commerce on people’s everyday life in a Chinese city.

Initiator and moderator: Claire Shiying Li (李石影) who is an artist and curator based in New York. She is currently pursuing an MA in critical and curatorial studies at Columbia University. Her research focuses on contemporary moving images and figures of Exile.