Wenxi Liao is a multidisciplinary designer and curator currently based in London. His curatorial practice sits in the intersection of art, design and media critique, with a specific interest in the notions of mediation and remediation in a variety of contexts. Previously based in Shanghai, he has worked on or contributed to various exhibitions in China Mainland including 9th Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture and 13th Shanghai Biennale. He graduated with a BEng Industrial Design from Tongji University, Shanghai, and is currently completing MA Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art, London.
Focusing on the notion of community in relation to multilingualism in the urban context of London, the project explores different ways of communicating that transcend linguistic barriers among those for whom English is not a first language. How can we stimulate critical thinking to reimagine inclusive forms of communication that operate beyond conventional linguistic modalities?
Our project proposal – developed from an initial response to a brief from Chisenhale Gallery – explores multilingualism through the notion of ‘pidgin’ in the context of an English-speaking art school, where the use of language is highly complex. Pidgin, a term born out of the gap that often occurs in translation, presents a situation in which a way of communicating emerges organically among people speaking different languages. Challenging the predominantly monolingual culture within the Royal College of Art, Pidgin offers a way to think and speak about art critically while foregrounding the cultural diversity of the community that inhabits this international institution. How can we pidginise and decentre International Art English, and multilingualise the art school?
Artists and creative practitioners including Yu Ting Chung and Divya Sharma are invited to explore this question with us through printed matter and ephemera, quintessential forms of visual communication. Comprising a zine-making workshop and a public-facing display, our project questions how multilingualism can be activated in the current system of art education, and how linguistic barriers can be transcended to envision a linguistically diverse community of students.
As a curator I have been interested in the dynamics of transparency and opacity in exhibitions as a form of mediation, and the co-constitution between formats and contexts in the public-facing presentation of art. Drawing on the notion of remediation, I am interested in how alternative spatial, textual or performative formats (both physical and digital) can function as new materialities of decentring exhibitions as form and in engaging a variety of publics. These interests are rooted in the legacy of movements and theories such as Fluxus, relational art and other expanded practices that incorporates fluid and multifaceted manifestation of art, as well as my previous experience in editorial and exhibition design.
My interest in mediation also expands to other themes and topics, including media infrastructures in the post-digital age, and more recently ecological ethics and non-anthropocentricism in urban contexts. Probing into our increasingly mediated encounter with the environment engendered by (de-)industrialisation, urbanisation and digitalisation, my curatorial practice aims to unveil, challenge and recalibrate hierarchical power dynamics. I am particularly interested in identifying new ways of understanding our world in the contexts of ever-evolving progress of media technologies and the global urgencies of climate crisis.