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Macau visual anthropologist presents artwork in collaboration with Polish artist in Europe

2022-07-07 03:01     Comment:0

Together with Polish artist Marta Stanisława Sala, Macau visual anthropologist Cheong Kin Man presents artwork and research in Poland, Germany and Portugal this summer. Invited by American artist Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman and Polish artists the Sala sisters, Cheong recreated a series of 90 images for the Sala sisters’ and Sniderman’s ongoing art exhibition in Krakow, “Esther’s Willow.”

For the exhibition, Cheong, in collaboration with Marta Sala, was commissioned for the visual representation of historical documentation and images in the exhibition. The documents and photographs have been collected by the Sala sisters and Sniderman during their artistic research about a demolished synagogue. The exhibition, part of Poland’s Jewish youth festival “FestivALT”, is on view until the end of July.

According to the festival, “the project concerns the conditions of memory around the former Esther’s Square in Chrzanów, where the Great Synagogue stood until its demolition in 1973, [in which] thereafter a weeping willow grew sometime later. The willow was unexpectedly cut down in 2018. Before the Nazi genocide, Jews made up half of Chrzanów and their history and memory in the city weakens each year.”

Invited by the artist group, Cheong edited a series of 90 images based on the Sala sisters’ and Sniderman’s archive. Several dozen of these images are a visual recreation by Cheong. “Many of the digital images I was given were not ‘workable’ in the conventional sense as most of them were of low quality. So I recreated them, taking advantage of the aesthetics of pixelated images, for many of them were even intentionally pixelated,” the anthropologist told Ponto Final last Friday.

“The idea was to ‘force’ some aesthetics by deconstructing the digital images. By pixelating archived photography of Jewish people, I was not unaware of its political implications. Yet I felt very emotional when I learned that one of the faces that I have pixelated was Mr. Abraham Wassertheil, a Holocaust survivor who visited the exhibit all the way from Israel.

Abraham Wassertheil, today 94, managed to survive during the German occupation in the Second World War. However, his mother, named Ester, did not escape from the war. Ester Wassertheil (née Laufer) was murdered in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1942.

After this exhibition, Cheong Kin Man and Marta Sala will continue their collaboration in a residency at Germany’s Begegnungen (“Encounters”) Art Festival, in a project titled “‘Ostgeld’ for Ghosts,” this month. Cheong and Sala will create a series of “joss-paper” banknotes inspired by the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) history. A performance is to be scheduled in August.

“Ostgeld” means “eastern money”, i.e., money for the now defunct GDR.

At the end of July, Cheong Kin Man and Marta Sala, together with Taiwanese art curator Yipei Lee, will be presenting an anthropologist-artist-curator “research triangle” titled “When sustainability is forced: ethnographic filmmaking as an intervention in mixed-media art production” during an academic conference on cinema in the northern Portuguese town of Avanca, while discussing sustainability in the making of art and anthropology.

“The textus of WSBS_3840x1080.mp4,” Cheong’s experimental writing about German filmmaker Deborah Uhde’s latest video installation, “White Slices Blind Spots,” will also be published this summer in Berlin.

Cheong Kin Man was born and raised in Macau. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in Portuguese studies in Macau and Portugal, Cheong worked for the International Institute of Macau and for the Macau government, where he was a translator and interpreter. He is now based in Berlin, where he is pursuing a PhD in Visual and Media Anthropology at the Freie Universität Berlin, a public research university in the German capital.  – CKM / MPD


Archive images recreated by Cheong, along with Sniderman’s poems. – Photo: Katarzyna Sala


(From left to right) M. Sala, an unidentified visitor, Śomi (collaborator), Sniderman and K. Sala. – Photo taken on June 29, by Stan Baranski/FestivALT


Marta Sala. Photo taken on June 29 by Stan Baranski/FestivAL


Sala sisters’ mother, Anna Sala. – Photo taken on June 29, by Stan Baranski/FestivALT


Undated self-portrait by Cheong Kin Man and Marta Sala

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