Tue June 18 - Sat August 10, 2024

Perilous Playground

The Chinese Culture Center (CCC) presents Present Tense 2023: Perilous Playground

Eleven artists and art collectives address urban histories and spaces as SF's Chinatown prepares for the renovation of Portsmouth Square

August 25, 2023 - August 10, 2024
Free Opening Reception: Thursday, August 24, 2023, 5:30pm
Press Preview: Thursday, August 24, 2023, 11am

Major changes are coming to San Francisco's Chinatown later this year as work gets underway to renovate Portsmouth Square, the always busy park at the heart of the neighborhood that serves as the de facto living room of the densely populated, low income community. One of Chinatown's very few public spaces, the Square will be closed to undergo extensive reconstruction over several years, including the removal of the pedestrian bridge that connects it to the Chinese Culture Center.

In consideration of this dramatic transformation of its immediate surroundings and the impact, both intended and unintended, on the community, Chinese Culture Center (CCC) invites eleven artists and art collectives to address urban histories and spaces in a new, multidisciplinary exhibition entitled Present Tense 2023: Perilous Playground. Guest curated by C & G Artpartment, formerly of Hong Kong, the exhibition presents innovative work in film, video, new media, sculpture, and mixed media by both local and international artists including Weston Teruya (US), Lucky Rabbit Pictures (US), Ting Ying Han (US), Bijun Liang (US), Felix Quintana (US), South Ho (Hong Kong), 'Wang Chau Tin Yuen' art collective (Hong Kong), Anson Mak (Hong Kong), 'Walking Grass Agriculture' art collective (Taiwan), Kuang-Yu Tsui (Taiwan), and Post-Museum (Singapore).

Present Tense 2023: Perilous Playground is the sixth iteration of CCC's Present Tense exhibition series, an initiative to promote robust artistic dialogue around issues relevant to the community.

"We benefit from urbanization and urban (re)development, but also suffer from it," say Clara Cheung and Gum Cheng Yee Man, the curatorial duo behind C & G Artpartment, now based in England. "Urban planning in many places has long been a top-down process which can result in community dispersal and gentrification, especially for the most vulnerable. Perilous Playground invites artists to investigate 'blind spots' in urban (re)development. When hidden problems can be visualized, residents can better understand how these problems are related to them and can prepare for possible solutions. Upholding criticality and creativity, contemporary artists are often very sensitive to issues that endanger communities. Some of the exhibiting artists have helped out at protests, some have helped with documentation, while others have made artworks in response. Many of these artists' practices emphasize relationships and collaborations amongst community members, and, therefore, help sustain community spirit and resilience in the aftermath of protests and displacement."

Exemplifying these curatorial themes is the work of Singapore art collective Post-Museum who has for many years collected community stories about Singapore's Bukit Brown cemetery ever since officials there began to exhume some of the 100,000 graves to make way for an eight-lane highway. Post-Museum turned their documentation into a performance on the occasion of the annual Hungry Ghost Festival, a time when Chinese residents honor the departed. The performance, presented at the 2019 Singapore Biennale, is the basis for a virtual reality artwork that visitors to Perilous Playground can experience through VR goggles. In conjunction with the exhibition, CCC is organizing a special Hungry Ghost Festival for the public that will take place August 26, 2023.

Hong Kong-based moving image and sound artist Dr. Anson Hoi-shan Mak presents a web-based work developed from her research over more than a decade of the gentrification and now aggressive government redevelopment of what had been one of Hong Kong's most vibrant artist communities, Kwung Tong. The work's title, From the Factories, derives from the area's former industrial use.

Many of the exhibition's participating West Coast artists are creating new work in response to the changes coming to Portsmouth Square and Chinatown. Bay Area-based Weston Teruya, whose work often examines the social dynamics and histories of specific sites and communities, contributes Home in Moving Parts (carried with us), a bench cast entirely from paper scraps collected in Chinatown that replicates those found on the soon-to-be-demolished pedestrian bridge. San Francisco-based collective Lucky Rabbit Pictures examines the often overlooked inhabitants of the bridge, including its vibrant skateboarding community, in a new documentary work entitled Bridge to Everywhere. And San Francisco-based Bijun Liang wonders "Where will the pigeons go?" in an interactive installation of inflatable birds that visitors will be encouraged to take out into the community and return to CCC.

"CCC is a place for empowering the stories and voices of the community, and to uplift the activism of the community," says CCC Executive Director Jenny Leung. "Chinatowns across the country are grappling with change, gentrification, and displacement. With this major transformation coming for SF Chinatown, this is a critical story to tell about CCC, our community and place, our vibrancy and resilience and its impact--and to invite the community and the public to respond."


Image Credit: Bijun Liang, "Free Pigeon" (2023). Photo courtesy of the artist.
The Chinese Culture Center (CCC) presents Present Tense 2023: Perilous Playground

Eleven artists and art collectives address urban histories and spaces as SF's Chinatown prepares for the renovation of Portsmouth Square

August 25, 2023 - August 10, 2024
Free Opening Reception: Thursday, August 24, 2023, 5:30pm
Press Preview: Thursday, August 24, 2023, 11am

Major changes are coming to San Francisco's Chinatown later this year as work gets underway to renovate Portsmouth Square, the always busy park at the heart of the neighborhood that serves as the de facto living room of the densely populated, low income community. One of Chinatown's very few public spaces, the Square will be closed to undergo extensive reconstruction over several years, including the removal of the pedestrian bridge that connects it to the Chinese Culture Center.

In consideration of this dramatic transformation of its immediate surroundings and the impact, both intended and unintended, on the community, Chinese Culture Center (CCC) invites eleven artists and art collectives to address urban histories and spaces in a new, multidisciplinary exhibition entitled Present Tense 2023: Perilous Playground. Guest curated by C & G Artpartment, formerly of Hong Kong, the exhibition presents innovative work in film, video, new media, sculpture, and mixed media by both local and international artists including Weston Teruya (US), Lucky Rabbit Pictures (US), Ting Ying Han (US), Bijun Liang (US), Felix Quintana (US), South Ho (Hong Kong), 'Wang Chau Tin Yuen' art collective (Hong Kong), Anson Mak (Hong Kong), 'Walking Grass Agriculture' art collective (Taiwan), Kuang-Yu Tsui (Taiwan), and Post-Museum (Singapore).

Present Tense 2023: Perilous Playground is the sixth iteration of CCC's Present Tense exhibition series, an initiative to promote robust artistic dialogue around issues relevant to the community.

"We benefit from urbanization and urban (re)development, but also suffer from it," say Clara Cheung and Gum Cheng Yee Man, the curatorial duo behind C & G Artpartment, now based in England. "Urban planning in many places has long been a top-down process which can result in community dispersal and gentrification, especially for the most vulnerable. Perilous Playground invites artists to investigate 'blind spots' in urban (re)development. When hidden problems can be visualized, residents can better understand how these problems are related to them and can prepare for possible solutions. Upholding criticality and creativity, contemporary artists are often very sensitive to issues that endanger communities. Some of the exhibiting artists have helped out at protests, some have helped with documentation, while others have made artworks in response. Many of these artists' practices emphasize relationships and collaborations amongst community members, and, therefore, help sustain community spirit and resilience in the aftermath of protests and displacement."

Exemplifying these curatorial themes is the work of Singapore art collective Post-Museum who has for many years collected community stories about Singapore's Bukit Brown cemetery ever since officials there began to exhume some of the 100,000 graves to make way for an eight-lane highway. Post-Museum turned their documentation into a performance on the occasion of the annual Hungry Ghost Festival, a time when Chinese residents honor the departed. The performance, presented at the 2019 Singapore Biennale, is the basis for a virtual reality artwork that visitors to Perilous Playground can experience through VR goggles. In conjunction with the exhibition, CCC is organizing a special Hungry Ghost Festival for the public that will take place August 26, 2023.

Hong Kong-based moving image and sound artist Dr. Anson Hoi-shan Mak presents a web-based work developed from her research over more than a decade of the gentrification and now aggressive government redevelopment of what had been one of Hong Kong's most vibrant artist communities, Kwung Tong. The work's title, From the Factories, derives from the area's former industrial use.

Many of the exhibition's participating West Coast artists are creating new work in response to the changes coming to Portsmouth Square and Chinatown. Bay Area-based Weston Teruya, whose work often examines the social dynamics and histories of specific sites and communities, contributes Home in Moving Parts (carried with us), a bench cast entirely from paper scraps collected in Chinatown that replicates those found on the soon-to-be-demolished pedestrian bridge. San Francisco-based collective Lucky Rabbit Pictures examines the often overlooked inhabitants of the bridge, including its vibrant skateboarding community, in a new documentary work entitled Bridge to Everywhere. And San Francisco-based Bijun Liang wonders "Where will the pigeons go?" in an interactive installation of inflatable birds that visitors will be encouraged to take out into the community and return to CCC.

"CCC is a place for empowering the stories and voices of the community, and to uplift the activism of the community," says CCC Executive Director Jenny Leung. "Chinatowns across the country are grappling with change, gentrification, and displacement. With this major transformation coming for SF Chinatown, this is a critical story to tell about CCC, our community and place, our vibrancy and resilience and its impact--and to invite the community and the public to respond."


Image Credit: Bijun Liang, "Free Pigeon" (2023). Photo courtesy of the artist.
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Date/Times:
  • Tue Jun 18 (10am - 4pm)
  • Wed Jun 19 (10am - 4pm)
  • Thu Jun 20 (10am - 4pm)
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Chinese Culture Center (CCC) 40 Upcoming Events
750 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

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