Hong-An Truong | Tammy Nguyen | Ragini Bhow | Lien Truong | Mo Kong | Pacifico Silano | Myeongsoo Kim | Ben Tong | Jia Sung | Alex Callender | Sonia Louise Davis | Tess Bilhartz | Y. M. Kwok | Ang Xia Yi | Raya Terran
09–30–2022 to 10–30–2022
island is pleased to present our inaugural show at our new location at 83 Bowery titled, circular ruins. The exhibition marks the end of our time as “Rubber Factory” and the start of a new chapter as “island”.
The show draws its title from a Borges fiction where a protagonist washes up on the ruins of a temple and struggles with the act of creation itself. circular ruins examines the many intentions and conceptual frameworks that charge our new identity as “island”.
Islands are defined by their unique geology of discrete land masses separate from mainlands while often having perimeters which are variably submerged. They also form a membrane of nodes across the planet, with more than 900,000 islands serving as frontier lands which are extremely sensitive to change. While many also serve as ahistorical territories which are silent witnesses to historical traumas perpetrated elsewhere and these islands are potential sites for remembrance and regeneration.
Artists in circular ruins are engaged in acts of world building, creating their own languages indexed to their lived experiences. From Ragini Bhow’s abstract vessel-like sculpture to Ben Tong’s pulsing repetitive forms made using a percussive device or Ang Xia Yi’s intimate fabrics made from burnishing images onto vernacular textiles, the works are containers for new ways of knowing. They suggest a divergent path, not dissimilar to the way that the distinct ecologies of islands enable them to be producers of alternative cultures, techniques and histories.
Islands are often sites of colonial, imperialistic conquest, performing the role of flagpole for the extension of vast empires. Because they are on the edge of the world they mark the supple perimeters of power. Tammy Nguyen’s Freehold series in the exhibition about Forest City, a tax free, man-made island in Johor Malaysia, located along the Singapore Strait deconstructs the fiction of this stabilized geographic realm, interrogating the contemporary urge to seek out new utopian models. While Lien Truong and Hong-An Truong’s “The Sky Is Not Sacred” explores the trauma of Western ideology’s impact on the Vietnamese landscape unpacking the scarring effect on collective psyche and land alike.
circular ruins also proposes the island as refuge, as hidden topography and as porous land where communities can form generative bonds. Pacifico Silano reenacts the history of gay bars as a place of refuge, pleasure and community. By creating a series of neon works miming the bar signage of these LGBTQ islands that are now shuttered Pacifico memorializes these sites as places for resistant ecosystems to congregate. While Mo Kong’s works from their Swift Island Chain: Letter to Home series locates the diaporic compulsion to seek out new environments and the dissonance that follows.