“Green Snake: women-centred ecologies” at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong

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“Green Snake: women-centred ecologies”The group exhibition explores connections between art, ecology and extreme weather in the contexts that are rising temperatures and extreme events. The exhibition brings together more than 30 artists from 20 countries to present over 60 works. These are based on mythologies, world views and women’s perspectives.

At its core, “Green Snake: women-centred ecologies” points to extractive economies at the root of our ecological crises—economies that treat nature as reserves of resources for exploitation. These economics are intertwined in the history and legacy of colonialism, settler capitalism, and imperialism. The consequences were devastating: the suppression and destruction of Indigenous cultures, non-capitalist systems of knowledge, and other noncapitalist cultures in pursuit of limitless economic growth. Today, the destructive consequences of a single-pointed emphasis on profit and growth is more widely acknowledged, as the impunity in which it has destroyed worlds, spread toxicity and pollutant in its wake, now results in the collapse of ecologies, along with an accelerating climate.

Some artists in “Green Snake”Some artists explore the history of such destruction and extraction, while others focus on knowledge systems that were marginalised or repressed. Instead of presenting a bleak and dystopian vision, “Green Snake” asks what alternative narratives are activated through artists’ visions that celebrate nature as an all-encompassing and generative force— many of them grounded in notions of care and interrelationship that are central to ecofeminism. This labour is vital to the reproduction of life, but has been undervalued across patriarchal systems and imperial systems. In this way, “Green Snake” seeks to present works by artists drawing on and revitalising diverse cosmological systems in relation to ecology and women-centred knowledge.

The exhibition title refers both to the celebrated ancient Chinese folktale about two demon sisters, White Snake and Green Snake, and to mythological serpentine figures across cultures that are associated with nature’s capacity to shed skins, transform and re-awaken. In the eighth-century folktale Madame White Snake, the sister figure of Green Snake strongly represents women’s agency, sisterhood and gender fluidity—and has been widely reinterpreted in contemporary literature and cinema. At another level, in the exhibition, the snake’s sinuous curves echo the geomorphology of river systems and the vital energy of the water flowing through them. In fact, many of the artists in this exhibition are deeply interested in river ecosystems as well as their mythologies. Dialogues among works rooted in diverse geographies reveal parallel struggles and parallel practices of care and empathy for nonhuman existence. The figure of a circle of planetary renewal and cosmic renewal is revealed in a symphonic appeal for a radical change of orientation of the human in the world.

Tai Kwun Contemporary presents tours in collaboration with the researcher Anqi Li and curator Morgan Wong. The architectural designer Human Wu, the writer Coco Wong and the environmental educator Yeungs will also be taking part.

You can also check out our other articles. Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong
until April 1, 2024

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