Sung Tieu “Civic Floor” at Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square

By Last Updated: March 21, 2024Views: 16

Berlin-based artist Sung Tieu produces works of sculpture, drawing, textual content, video, and sound. Her work is commonly closely primarily based on analysis into strategies of navy and authorities management, imprisonment, exclusion, and surveillance. In latest paintings, Tieu has distorted a Wagnerian opera as an “orchestra” of workplace sounds (Zugzwang, 2020); she has reconstructed the acoustic assaults alleged to have induced Havana syndrome, capturing her personal publicity to the sound through mind scans (In Chilly Print, 2020); and he or she has drawn on the audio recordings utilized by US navy psychological operations, which had been designed to destabilize the Vietnamese Nationwide Liberation Entrance (No Gods, No Masters, 2017).

On this exhibition, we encounter 4 massive steel sculptures, a sequence of 37 framed wall-works, and a video set up within the left gallery.

At first look this seems to be an exhibition of minimal artwork, which is typically related to a dry conceptual strategy or certainly a theatrical however cool presence, the place industrial type takes a central stage as excessive artwork—and a diminished language of type that usually makes reference to different minimal our bodies of labor. The reference is intentional in Tieu’s work, nonetheless encoded into the work is a persistent questioning of administrative and bureaucratic strategies of management, surveillance and, certainly, punishment, in addition to the geopolitical apparatuses and governments that harbour and perpetuate them. Her analysis ventures into the quiet violence of bureaucratic methods and the way these methods affect folks psychologically and emotionally. Tieu’s work thus quietly, however insistently, explores questions of governance, civic duty, human rights, and justice.

The viewers’s uncomfortable encounter with this uncanny exhibition can also be implicated by the artist’s deliberate emphasis on the significance of 1’s notion inside this encounter, and subsequently, in any sort of encounter. It’s as if one’s eyes are being invited to open a bit of bit extra to see what was already in entrance of you; a hallucinatory impact of numerous unseen our bodies below administration and containment. The work is formed and crafted and elaborated in order that the distortion and alienation skilled by people inside administrative management, for instance, is echoed right here inside the exhibition. The insanity of state management is briefly glimpsed, as if it’s a creature itself unleashed from its numerous fluorescent-lit places of work. The sound that ventures by way of the gallery, surrounding the sculptures and framed works, is essential in delivering this impact.

We encounter 4 central metal sculptures which every make reference to jail structure from “radial” prisons from the 1840s to newer jail structure because the Nineteen Nineties. These sculptures depict the brutal mechanisms of spatial group and surveillance strategies in prisons. Rendered in black metal, every imposing construction sits on a excessive pedestal of the identical black metal, with their interior structure opened as much as be supplied for viewing—albeit at an unfair top—making the work oddly inaccessible and troublesome to see. These in a position to peer excessive edge of those constructions (we’ve got supplied a small step ladder to be used if wanted) will uncover that the interiors should not hole however full of earth, referencing the places the place they arrive from.

The sculptures may very well be seen as sharing formal points with Minimal artwork. An emphasis on house and quantity, and using industrial supplies particularly, impart this reference. Nevertheless, the sculptures’ clear reference to jail designs urges us to contemplate the chilly, inhumane, and authoritarian capabilities that come collectively to contemplate learn how to intern and isolate, to interrupt up social contact and discourage communication, to maximise human capability, in addition to to allow fixed surveillance, and subsequently prohibit behaviour. Selections had been made and the implications are introduced to us. Michel Foucault in analyzing the Panopticon prisons in his ebook Self-discipline and Punish reminds us how this fixed sense of surveillance—the not figuring out of being noticed or not, however the potential for it— manufactures a self-induced self-discipline and management, an interior surveillance so to talk. Tieu, who, in earlier works, has highlighted the alienating options of Brutalist and Minimalist structure, gives up these architectural varieties as case research for a way house will be weaponized to have a dehumanizing impact. We’d take into account or rethink any type of structure after encountering these works and uncover that we’re additionally inside an area that has been instrumentalized—deliberately or not— to form human behaviour and curb social encounters.

The sculptures are accompanied by framed wall-works primarily based on completely different types of American immigration paperwork. These are those which are used to evaluate people’ eligibility for immigration and/or asylum, or people who act as appeals in opposition to deportation or for refugees to use for a “waiver of grounds of inadmissibility.” These tablet-like plaster reliefs are literally derived from the paperwork for US asylum seekers. In tandem with the sculptures, these works additionally emphasize a proper evaluation of different bureaucratic types of management. Of their summary fields of strains and packing containers, they illustrate the spatial parameters inside which an asylum seeker’s story may exist. This compression of house instantly locations laborious circumstances upon the narratives of the asylum seekers, imposing laborious limits inside small packing containers. Tales will merely not be instructed as language, identities and histories are all denied a correct house for reception.

Under these framed works are corresponding stainless-steel plaques. The applying varieties’ parameters (packing containers, strains, cells) are quantified in sq. millimeters, thus quantifying the attainable house for expressing life tales, as a machine would compress human expertise right into a steel field. We’d ask, how can the intricacies of precise human experiences, notably these expressed by folks making use of for political asylum, match into these tight areas? The phrases “type” and “grid”—that are motifs in addition to topics that Tieu has used for types of critique in her previous artworks—once more seem within the title of those works. Additionally they, once more, clarify reference to Minimal artwork, performing as a merciless doppelganger of kinds.

Within the left gallery, the video Transferring Goal Shadow Detection investigates the Havana Syndrome conundrum. In 2016, U.S. officers stationed in Cuba skilled complications, dizziness, tinnitus, nausea, or visible disturbances. Intelligence providers suspected highly effective electromagnetic waves, resembling sonic weapons. The video meticulously reconstructs all particulars as a 3D animation. Surveillance cameras and Nano drone footage lead us by way of the Resort Nacional upstairs, to a room occupied by a CIA member, listening to information studies about Havana Syndrome assaults.

Affixed to the wall within the video room are two stainless-steel stools, designed by Tieu and primarily based on typical seating discovered within the ready rooms of immigration and detention areas. Their varieties are so ubiquitous that one realizes they’ve additionally been launched into eating places, airports, playgrounds, and state places of work—the place strategies of surveillance and management are utilized, additionally ubiquitously.

at Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square
till June 1, 2024

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