With Permission From the Officer
Zhixin Liao with Jorge Luís Barragán Castaño, Salim Bayri, Kimball Gunnar Holth, Donglai Meng, Clementine Edwards, Rotem Stern, Ottokaji Iroke, Lucy Cordes Engelman, and Nokukhanya Langa
Curated by Àngels Miralda
29-31 October 2021
WG Plein t/o nr 80
1054 DM Amsterdam
Zhixin Liao presents a recent project that has emerged from his cycling trips along the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal during his participation in HISK, Ghent. This canal was built in 1823-27 while Belgium and the Netherlands were united as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Only a few years after the completion of this canal, the Belgian border was erected and rendered the canal useless. A lot of work for nothing.
As an artist who relies on visas to remain in the country, the visibility and invisibility of EU borders has become a focus of Liao’s artistic practice. Cycling down the canal and across the border symbolises how one can feel borders even while they are theoretically inactive. In his film If We Were Still The Same in 1827, Liao records the movement across the border where absolutely nothing happens.
In 2016, Liao’s first landing in the Netherlands was to study at the Frank Mohr Instituut in Groningen. He established contacts, friendships, and references specific to the Netherlands but found himself on an expiring “zoekjaar” visa after graduation and with few and complex solutions to remain in his adopted home. Then began the process of applying for a “self-employed person” visa. Tricky! In order to do this he had to prove he was a relevant artist in the Netherlands with lots of work experience, commissions from the Dutch Culture Department, and a large cash payment. But how will a new graduate do this? Maybe he should have applied to be on the board of the Mondriaan Fonds, but instead he chose to partake in several exhibitions and residencies including airWG in Amsterdam to prove his worth in other ways.
For the exhibition With Permission From the Officer Zhixin Liao has invited artists who currently face or have gone through similar situations with the IND to copy a landscape from the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal. The first artist Jorge Luís Barragán Castaño selected a photo and copied the image. Each successive artist copied the resulting artwork using their own interpretation in the following order: Salim Bayri, Kimball Gunnar Holth, Donglai Meng, Clementine Edwards, Rotem Stern, Ottokaji Iroke, Lucy Cordes Engelman, and Nokukhanya Langa. In this way, a game of “telephone” creates its own visual trajectory from the Dutch border into different aspects of art and life. Each participating artist has been awarded a signed and stamped certificate for their participation in the exhibition which they will be able to use as they wish - for instance framing it for their studio, using it as material for their next artwork, or to prove their activity and relevance in the Dutch art scene at their upcoming visa appointment.