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Tides of Sand and Steel

Tides of Sand and Steel
Si Shang Art Museum
Beijing, China
March 19-June 20, 2017

Reviews: Art Forum

Tides of Sand and Steel was developed during site visits in and around front-line communities impacted by desertification in China's interior, specifically in Hongsibu, Ningxia province and Shacheng, Hebei province. Throughout the research process the artists investigated state and non-state initiatives in ecology remediation and extractive economies in the arid region. This exhibition operates at the intersection of human geography and storytelling, unpacking the narrativization of disaster ecologies and the historicization of resilience through environmental management.

With a criticality towards the role of journalistic, museological, and scientific practices, this exhibition follows a self-reflective research methodology and engages with the infrastructure and logistics of environmental remediation, and the reification of anti-desertification programs. Composed of large-scale video installations, critical reconstructions, displays, and affective engagements, Tides of Sand and Steel intersects a rigorous material engagement with an articulation of sublime encounter with moving landscapes.

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Tides of Sand and Steel
Tides of Sand and Steel is a large-scale kinetic installation of defensive wall architectures that utilizes industrial greenhouse fans to slowly move sections of sand in successive stages across the exhibition hall in Si Shang Art Museum. This work examines a counter narrative to the dominant desertification discourse in Ningxia, namely of how large swaths of desert are preemptively claimed for agricultural expansion. Tides of Sand and Steel references the process by which sand formations are actively flattened and redistributed while artificial environmental systems such as greenhouses are subsequently deployed in making the land yield under all conditions. Through it's architecture the work also calls to mind the various defensive barrier structures that are mobilized on the frontier of desert expansion.

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