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Quest for Quiet

[07.11.19 – 21.12.19]


Su-Mei Tse, Samson Young, Tianyou Huang


St Saviour’s, Aberdeen Park, London, UK

(Related files)

Edouard Malingue Gallery is thrilled to announce the opening of ‘Quest for Quiet’ curated by Dr. Helen Pheby, Head of Curatorial Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP), a leading international centre for modern and contemporary sculpture. The exhibition is the second of three projects in the gallery’s temporary London project space located in St Saviour’s, a Grade 1 listed building dating 1866 in Islington. ‘Quest for Quiet’ brings together the work of established artists Samson Young (b. 1979, Hong Kong) and Su-Mei Tse (b. 1973, Luxembourg) and emerging artist Tianyou Huang (b. 1992, China). Through video, photography and a site-specific installation, ‘Quest for Quiet’ explores how ‘quiet’ is not silent, and invites us to contemplate the murmurs and subtleties of the quotidian.

‘Quest for Quiet’ was born out of a discussion about finding pockets of calm and tranquility in general but more specifically in vibrant urban environments, such as London, Hong Kong or Shanghai. The search was contrasted to environments where nature abounds, such as Yorkshire, where there’s a form of sensorial suspense. As described by Dr. Helen Pheby in her acconomying exhibition text:

“As Head of Curatorial Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park I have the privilege of living and working in my home county but visiting London often. As the train approaches Kings Cross station I have noticed that I take a deep breath before being immersed in the life of the city, where the sky is only seen between buildings and the noise is relentless. On the return journey the concrete gives way to green and I breathe out. The space around me expands. I appreciate the breath in and the breath out. The duality. The exhibition Quest for Quiet is intended to be a space to breathe out, for calm and contemplation.

Quiet is not silent, it is not the complete absence of sound. It is to be in a situation where we can hear our own thoughts, notice the buzz of an insect and the wind in trees, be able to concentrate on a text, an artwork, a building. London is one of the busiest places on the planet – a cacophony of transport, machinery, and other man-made noise. Chatter. According to the anthropologist Keith H Basso, in Western Apache tradition it is an insult to chatter at someone because “persons who speak too much insult the imaginative capabilities of other people, blocking their thinking.”

Through the work of Samson Young, Su-Mei Tse and Tianyou Huang, ‘Quest for Quiet’ proposes different angles of exploration around this notion of finding moments of non-silent quiet. Samson Young, an internationally-respected artist and composer known especially for sound art and installations, will present in London for the first time his new piece The World Falls Apart (2019). A two-part video lecture presented back-to-back, the work analyses echoic mimicry through three research examples in relation to language, understanding, cultural difference and appropriation and the meaning of sound art itself. Samson Young says “in this context it refers to cases where mishearing is directed right back at the speaking subject, which the subject mimics, which in turn contributes towards the speaking subject’s sense of self.”

Similarly, with a background in music as a classically-trained cellist, Su-Mei Tse came to prominence aged just 30 when she represented Luxembourg at the Venice Biennale and was given the highest award of the Golden Lion. Presented in London for the first time are three photographic works Su-Mei Tse developed during her residency at the Villa Medici, Rome, in 2014-15. As written by Dr. Helen Pheby “The subject of each portrait bust has long since ceased to exist as flesh or idol, their permanent effigies themselves worn by time, and we are thus confronted with the fact that time is fleeting, including our own.” Each work’s title, however, from ‘Adriana’ to ‘Vera’ suggests a warmth behind the stillness, an empathetic connection.

Finally, Tianyou Huang was the 2018 YSP/Royal College of Art Graduate Award recipient and has just begun a PhD by practice at the University of Leeds. YSP’s Graduate Award programme provides vital support at the critical point of transition from student to professional practitioner. For ‘Quest for Quiet’ Tianyou Huang creates a site-specific installation that draws from The mirror in the water (2018), a work presented at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, for which Huang appropriated a mirrored wardrobe door and floated it on the river that runs through YSP, confusing the orientation and surface of material and experience, sky and water, up and down. The Third Space (2019) created specifically for the project space draws the eye, through a floating mirror on a body of water filling the chancel, across St Saviour’s, opening new pockets of sight. Huang describes the three spaces as being the physical space occupied by the elements of the work in their particular relationship; the second space being the visual one created through reflection and the third space as the mental space of contemplation and thought in the viewer.

Ultimately, ‘Quest for Quiet’, as summarised by Dr. Helen Pheby, “becomes a counterpoint to the echo chambers out in the noisy world that are contributing to increasingly polarised and ill informed thought and action. A space to consider and clear our thoughts.”

Exhibition design Benjamin Allan, EBBA Architects.


About Edouard Malingue Gallery & Project Space

Founded in 2010, Edouard Malingue Gallery aims to build critical dialogue between Asian and international contemporary artists who combine aesthetic concern with conceptual enquiry, working across different disciplines from video and installation to painting and sound. In addition to presenting dynamic solo and group exhibitions, the gallery pushes the boundaries of art in public spaces and stimulates artistic discourse through collaborations with curators and institutions worldwide. 

Situated in a grade 1 listed building in Islington, Edouard Malingue Gallery’s London project space opened with the performative installation ‘Listen’ by conceptual artist Wang Wei (b. 1972, China). First staged in Beijing in 2006, the project addressed the act of seeing and listening, and how this can extend to voyeurism rather than connection. Nestled in St Saviour’s Studios, which has a 30-year history of providing studio spaces for artists, the project space designed with the help of EBBA Architects sits as a complementary area for mutual exchange and will be accompanied by an active public programme bringing together curators, academics and audiences.

About Tianyou Huang

Recent Royal College of Art graduate Tianyou Huang works in a wide range of media, including mechanical art, installation, performance, photography and painting. Huang explores how humour, absurdism and chances can be interpreted, and is inspired by daily experience, collective memory and natural phenomena. Following on from his graduate show, Huang continues his investigation into the sense of motion, and making objects move through the concepts of inevitability and contingency. He was selected as the 2018 YSP/RCA Graduate Award due to his mature and original exploration of the human condition.

About Su-Mei Tse

Su-Mei Tse is an internationally-celebrated artist who rose to prominence in 2003 when she represented Luxembourg at the Venice Biennale and was awarded the prestigious Leono d’Oro award for her tripartite installation ‘Air Conditioned’. Tse’s work has since been exhibited nationally and internationally including solo shows at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei (2019); Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2018); Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau (2018); Mudam Luxembourg, Luxembourg (2017); Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona (2011); Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2009); Art Tower Mito, Japan (2009); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (2008); PS1, New York (2006); Casino, Forum d’Art Contemporain, Luxembourg (2006); Renaissance Society, Chicago (2005); Moderna Museet, Sweden (2004). Group exhibitions include Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2009); National Gallery of Art, Poland (2009); Singapore Biennale (2008); Kunsthaus Zurich (2006); De Appel, Amsterdam (2005); Sao Paulo Biennale (2004). Tse has additionally been the recipient of multiple prizes, including the Prize for Contemporary Art by the Foundation Prince Pierre of Monaco (2009) and the Edward Steichen Award, Luxembourg (2005).

About Samson Young

Multi-disciplinary artist Samson Young was trained as a composer, and graduated with a Ph.D. in Music Composition from Princeton University in 2013. Young has had solo exhibitions at Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, Centre A in Vancouver, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art in Manchester, M+ Pavilion in Hong Kong, and Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. In 2017, he represented Hong Kong in the 57th Venice Biennale. Group exhibitions include Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Biennale of Sydney; National Museum of Art, Osaka; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; and documenta 14: documenta radio; amongst others. Furthermore, he has participated in multiple festivals, as well as been the recipient of several prizes, including the 2015 BMW Art Journey Award and 2018 Hong Kong Art Centre Honorary Fellowship. Further awards include Artist of the Year (Hong Kong Arts Development Council), Prix Ars Electronica, Bloomberg Emerging Artist Award.

About Helen Pheby

Helen Pheby is an international curator with the role of Head of Curatorial Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Dr. Helen Pheby was Vice Chair of the Civic art gallery and theatre in Barnsley; is the Chair of UP Projects, London; curatorial advisor to ArtRole in Iraqi Kurdistan and NIROX in South Africa. She is also a Cultural Fellow of York St John Universityand was an advisor to the Arts Council Collection Acquisition Committee in 2016-17. Dr Pheby is regularly invited to undertake international lectures and tours including the Contemporary Austin in January 2017 and as the guest of Creative India in 2013. Helen has collaborated with Selfridges since 2018 to curate the Duke Street entrance to their flagship London store.


Details of accompanying public programme:

Sunday, Nov 17 | 5–7 PM: Sound Meditation with Souljourn Yoga and Kate Stewart of Sound Universe London 

Wednesday, Nov 20 | 6–8 PM: Panel Discussion with Dr. Helen Pheby

Wednesday,  Nov 27 | 6–8 PM: Concert ‘The Sound We Inhabit’ composed by Benjamin McDonnell performed by Gokumi Ensemble

Thursday, Dec 19 | 6–8 PM: Gallery Lates