Field Recordings | Group Show

Opening event Tuesday February 20 from 5.30pm

Guo Zixuan, Li Xiaofei, Tu Rapana Neill, Jim Speers and Clinton Watkins

ST PAUL St Galleries One and Two, Auckland

A recurring question among the members of Field Recordings is why make work in Shanghai? Field Recordings work as a collective, and as such, there is no single response. Hunan-born Li Xiaofei lived in Shanghai for many years, and has seen the city transform under the influences of global commerce. For Jim Speers, it is a place he frequently returns to and will continue to, since meeting Xiaofei in 2012. Making this work is, in part, a way to come to terms with the relationships he and the collective have established there. The collective also includes Guo Zixuan who is from Beijing, came to Auckland to study and now makes work between the two cities; Auckland-based artist Clinton Watkins; and London-based New Zealand artist Tu Rapana Neill. Over time, their dialogue and shared interest in how, from their respective positions, to approach making a film in Shanghai, and with people working within the large-scale systems of industrial production there, led to the decision to make work collectively.

This exhibition brings together a new single-channel work made in Shanghai, Xiao Pudong (2017) with Zhu Weihua, and a multi-channel work relating to the workers living on boats and along the banks of the Suzhou and Changjiang Rivers in Shanghai, and travelling to Hengsha Island. Narrative coherence is disrupted by the multiple channels in Let the Water Flow (2016) in part as a way of emphasising the multiple perspectives that make up any place. Or in the case of Xiao Pudong, the narrative is entirely led by Zhu Weihua. The exhibition also includes artworks made individually by each artist. These works not only show what is seen, but also what is able to be seen, or able to be shared, through the relative relationships each artist has with the place.

So what does it mean, then, to encounter this work here in Tāmaki Makaurau, in the recognition that ‘here’ is particular to each viewer? The sight of shipping containers in Tāmaki Makaurau, a port city like Shanghai, is familiar. Although it may be possible to see the relationship between the two cities in global terms, on the basis of capital transaction and data, we ourselves, each of us and our lives, are not ‘global.’ We are differently located. The larger question raised by these films, then, is how we might work with and through this ‘double-bind’, with forms of locatedness built into every relationship.

Floor-talk with Li Xiaofei

5.30pm Tuesday 20 March
ST PAUL St Gallery Two

This exhibition is accompanied by a publication designed by Narrow Guage, Layla Tweedie-Cullen. It includes essays by Emma Ng, Michael Wilson and Hsieh Feng-Rong, and will be launched alongside a floor-talk by Li Xiaofei and the artists.


Date(s) - 20/02/2018 - 06/04/2018
All Day