Iniva Explores Issues of Globalisation and Migrant Labour in New Exhibitions


Chen Chieh-jen, Factory (still from film) 2003. Super 16mm transferred to DVD. Colour, silent, single-channel, continuous loop, 31:09mins. Courtesy of the artist.

LONDON.- Iniva presents exhibitions by NS Harsha and Chen Chieh-jen at Rivington Place this autumn, exploring issues of globalisation and migrant labour.

NS Harsha: Nations
Nations is a grand-scale installation by Indian artist NS Harsha, exhibited for the first time in Europe at Rivington Place. It questions international politics combining serious discussion with visual wit. 192 sewing machines are overlaid with hand painted calico flags signifying the countries that make up the United Nations.

NS Harsha is an artist known for his sensitivity to the human condition, drawing on details of cultural traditions in India and subjects which are part of all our lives. He focuses on the whimsical as well as the tragic aspects of life.

“This work took shape after my visit to a local small scale textile factory in which I personally experienced the realities of ‘human labour’. Hierarchies and exploitation are part of today’s global economic order. Nations engages with these socio-political complexities and cultural entanglements.” NS Harsha.

The artist creates a vision of a world divided by flags, he uses a delicate web of threads to link the sewing machines. Nations refers to the outsourcing of labour in response to the demands of world economies, as well as the networks that exist between countries. NS Harsha has exhibited internationally, Nations is his most ambitious installation to date and was shown to critical acclaim at the Sharjah Biennial earlier in 2009.

NS Harsha lives and works in Mysore, India. He was the recipient of the 3rd Artes Mundi Prize awarded in 2008 and worked with Iniva in 2000.

Picking Through the Rubble, an exhibition by NS Harsha, is showing at Victoria Miro Gallery from 10 October – 14 November 2009.

Chen Chieh-jen: Factory
Taiwanese artist Chen Chieh-Jen’s haunting film Factory is shown for the first time in London. Focusing on a group of textile workers, it is set within the context of manufacturing moving abroad in search of cheaper labour.

In 2003 the artist invited workers to return to the Lien Fu garment factory which had been closed down 7 years earlier. The unscrupulous owners were investigated for refusing to play retirement pensions and severance.

“In places all over the world, many labourers have had similar experiences – in relation to the ‘transplanted’ and the ‘untransplanted’. In order to find low-priced labour, factories constantly shift locations, but unemployed workers have no choice but to linger on in the same place.” Chen Chieh-jen.

In the mid 20th-century Taiwan’s manufacturing industry was booming as the Western world outsourced production. Factories sprung up all over the country and workers were brought in to live in dormitories.

In this derelict garment plant, abandoned objects still remain from 7 years before: calendars, newspapers, punch clocks, manufacturing equipment, the dust that has built up, and the banners left behind from the workers’ protests.

NS Harsha
NS Harsha lives and works in Mysore, India. He studied for a BFA in Painting at C.A.V.A, Mysore (1992) and Masters in Painting from Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda (1995). He received the Sanskriti Award, Sankriti Pratishthan, New Delhi (2003). He is the recipient of the 3rd Artes Mundi Prize awarded in 2008 and worked with Iniva in the 1990s.

Harsha has exhibited internationally, including the following exhibitions: in 2008 - Sharjah Biennial, UAE; Santhal Family, Muhka Museum, Antwerpen, Belgium; Leftovers, (solo exhibition), Maison Hermes, Tokyo and Osaka, Japan; Come give us a speech, (solo exhibition) Bodhi Art New York,; Indian Highway, Serpentine Gallery, London; India Moderna, IVAM Valencia, Spain. In 2007 Prospects, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Rome, Italy; Horn Please, Museum of fine arts, Berne, Switzerland,; New Narratives, Chicago Cultural Centre, USA; Private / Corporate IV, Daimler Chrysler Collection, Berlin, Germany; New Space, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai. In 2006 - Belief, 1st Singapore Biennale, Singapore; Charming Nation, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai (Solo). In 2005 - Mural, Project Art Space, Dublin, Ireland; Indian Summer, Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts, Paris, France. In 2004 - Another Passage to India, Ethnography Museum, Geneva, Switzerland; Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; the Asia Society, Queens Museum, New York, and travelling. In 2003 - Crossing Generations: diVERGE, 40 years of Gallery Chemould, NGMA, Mumbai. In 2002 - 2nd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial, Fukuoka, Japan; Drawing Space, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham, UK. He has also participated in apt3, The Third Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Arts, Brisbane, Australia in 1999. He was Visiting Artist in ‘VAFA’ Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts, Colombo, Sri Lanka (2001) and in Shantou University, Cheung Kong School of Arts & Design, China (2005). Shots of women textile workers moving around the building are mixed with fragmentary images of their protests, as well as footage produced by the government in the 1960s to promote the new found prosperity.

Chen Chieh-jen
Born in 1960, Taoyuan, Taiwan, Chen Chieh-jen currently works and lives in Taipei, Taiwan. He exhibits widely in his home country Taiwan and internationally. In 2009 his work Empire’s Borders was included in the Taiwan Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Chieh-jen was first shown in the Taiwan Pavilion in 1999 at the 48th Venice Bienniale. In 2005 he was one of 41 artists presented by curator Maria de Corral in the Padiglione Italia, The experience of art, at the 51st Biennale di Venezia, Venice. Chieh-jen was included in the Third Guangzhou Triennial in 2008, and the 10th International Istanbul Biennial in 2007. The work The Route was commissioned by Tate Gallery for the Liverpool Biennale International in 2006. In 1998 Chieh-jen exhibited at the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil, In 2002 his work Lingchi- Echoes of a Historical Photograph was presented at the 2002 Taipei Biennial. Chieh-jen’s film works have been exhibited at international film festivals including the Vancouver International Film Festival: Experimental Short Films in 2004; Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente (BAFICI), in Buenos Aires in 2005; and the 37th International Film Festival in Rotterdam in 2008.
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