Final Frontiers – curatorial statement

— 2016
New Materials in the Reading of the World - Chooc Ly Tan

New Materials in the Reading of the World - Chooc Ly Tan

Both Sides Now 3 – Final Frontiers

At the end of the 20th century, the conclusion of the Cold War led to a desired economic and political integration. Globally it was widely believed that nations had no choice but to adopt the new model of democratic capitalism, almost every government demonstrated optimism towards a new era of global convergence. In reality the world is far more connected than in the 21st century. Many Human Rights have gone from the unthinkable to realisation. Moments of triumph have led to a belief that democratic capitalism could create a more cultured and pro-liberal world, a new way of idealistic living for the future; a liberal utopia.

But now we ask: has liberal capitalist democracy triumphed? Has the economic and ideological determinism of the post-Cold War time guaranteed democracy? As global nations we are always in flux; our ancestors endured two world wars in the 20th century where many came together to combat a foe. Indeed, we are now in the midst of a strange time, with many people displaced and dispossessed, a disturbing similarity emerges to what happened in those two great wars of the 20th century.

Refugees desperately search for new homes beyond bombing zones, while other countries ban the wearing of religious clothing. The UK government continues to participate in imperialistic action in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and pushes its global agenda onto nations that are not interested or have very different values, which are as equal in their worth.

The UK’s citizens, 52% of voters, voted to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016. The EU is the largest voluntary (not brought together by force or war) federal peace project the world has ever seen. Yet 52% of UK voters believed it was better to leave. The following days and months have seen a rise in hate related crimes by 58% across the UK. A deeply divided country is now evident.

In Hong Kong, the doctrine of laissez-faire remains a myth, the rising level of polarisation is evident. The assumption that the path to progress in economy would bring greater protection for individual rights is proven wrong. There’s a growing sense that what we have believed isn’t delivering at home – notions of liberalism, democracy, and freedom have taken on a new meaning in this part of the world.

Both Sides Now 3: Final Frontiers endeavours to explore these divides, these boundaries and spaces between us, which exist as cultural legacies and hand-me-downs, like broken family heirlooms, with attached blame. Through this collection of films we aim to investigate personal experiences, global themes and fractures that need healing through cultural sharing and exchange. Both Sides Now is a tactical programme, which uses film and video to explore culture and society between different nations, the UK, China and Hong Kong, and beyond.

The UK programme contains work by artists who live in the UK, but who were not necessarily born there; artists who have experiences of the bordered UK, and have an understanding of its cultural frontiers. The artists in the programme who were born in the UK explore global cultures and are passionate about cultural communication. The Hong Kong programme includes work by diasporic Chinese and expatriates in Hong Kong and China, it aims to make visible fragments of experience and disrupt time, space and continuity. Final Frontiers attempts, through artists’ film and video, to redefine and close the spaces between us.