Press Release - I Made a Boat in Prison-A Journey to the Shore

11/09/2019 - 08/12/2019


Zilberman Projects - Istanbul is pleased to announce the present Isaac Chong Wai’s exhibition “I Made a Boat in Prison–A Journey to the Shore” that is on view between September 11 – December 8, 2019. The Berlin and Hong Kong based artist’s first exhibition in Istanbul functions as an extension of his solo exhibition What is the future in the past? And what is the past in the future? at Zilberman Gallery –Berlin between September 6 – November 9, 2019.

Contemplating imaginary pasts and looking at possible futures from the point of the present, the drawings, sculptures, site-specific installations and performances of the artist deal with the con-cealed perils of the public, the hidden available to our gaze. While normative narratives practice a certain rhetoric, Chong’s works beckon us through dilemmas; turning assumed truths on their heads and inviting us to participate in dialogues of vulnerability and resilience. His pieces often play with time, memory and propose performance as a commemorative tool for the future. Taking historical sites as the spaces of memory, Chong addresses complex research on how the body transforms in public space and uses alternating mediums to reflect on layers of historical memory.

I Made a Boat in Prison–A Journey to the Shore is based on Chong’s prior and eponymous project that took place in JVA Weimar, a former prison for the juvenile in Germany in 2015. Influenced by the high and heavy fence circumscribing the prison garden, Chong cuts pieces out of this bordering material through which we can see but are unable to reach. The boat structure made out of this original fence, suggests a plan or a dream for an escape, maybe in a flying boat, not only from the context of a prison but also from the conflicted political setting in the contemporary world. The paintings with their sky blue backgrounds 672 lines in silver, 2019 and 279 lines in blue, 2019 offer a silver lining to the idea of incarceration. The malfunction of a missing part of the fence here collides with an ambiguous abstraction. Both in political or metaphorical senses, these works tackle the inevitable ways in which representations evolve, retrograde and interweave. The lines, which appear intact, in reality, barely touch each other: the concept of a bordering fence remains fragile, impotent and even permeable.

The performance Swimming Back to Our Destination, 2019, embodies the imageries of human mobility through thinking about the struggles, strengths and substitutes of bodies. The swimmers learning to swim the same way a boat does, in a collective way, highlight our yearning for an alternative, an ideal mode for mobility – in solidarity.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog with contributions by Pauline Doutreluingne, Caroline Ha Thuc, and Lotte Laub.

For more information please contact Naz Beşcan: naz@zilbermangallery.com


Isaac Chong Wai (b. 1990, China) works and lives in Berlin and Hong Kong. Chong graduated from Academy of Visual Arts at Hong Kong Baptist University with a BA in Visual Arts and Bauhaus-Universität in Weimar, Germany, with a MFA in Public Art and New Artistic Strategies. His most recent solo exhibitions include: Is the World Your Friend? (Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong, 2019), An Artistic Archive of Borders (Kunstraum München, Munich, Germany, 2018), Future of the Past – Past of the Future (Goethe Institut Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2018), What is the future in the past? And what is the past in the future? (Bauhaus Museum, Weimar, Germany, 2016). His selected group exhibitions include: Living Sound—Expanding the extramusical (Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Taipei, Taiwan, 2019), The Racing Will Continue, The Dancing Will Stay (Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou, China, 2019), Imaginary Bauhaus Museum (Schiller Museum, Weimar, Germany, 2019), M+ Live Art Audience As Performer (M+ Museum, Hong Kong, 2018), The D-Tale: Video Art from the Pearl River Delta (Times Art Center, Berlin, Germany, 2018), KOTODAMA (Para Site, Hong Kong, 2018), Forecast Forum (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany, 2017), Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, A Time for Dreams (National Centre for Contemporary Arts (NCCA), Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA) and Museum of Moscow, Moscow, Russia, 2014).



Artist Pages
  - Isaac Chong Wai