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It’s that time of the year when I finish all residencies, fellowships, talks, and exhibitions, and reflect on the year that’s about to pass. It’s been a wonderful year of learning from different cultures and finding other ways of pursuing my practice. In 2018, I held residencies and fellowships in Vienna (KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery), Beijing (China Residencies and Red Gate Gallery), and Taipei (Mekong Cultural Hub and the British Council). This post recalls some of my favorite memories during my Beijing residency. Head to this post for thoughts about my Vienna residency.


 

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What a great Friday! Hurray, friendcations! 😍

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My residency with China Residencies was split in two; I finished part 1 in November and will come back in March. I was really excited for this residency. It was my second trip after many years as a journalist, and coming back as an artist gave me plenty to be inspired by. Here are some takeaways for Part 1:

1. If at first you don’t succeed

This was the second time I applied for this residency and I thought my chances were even more dismal than the first time with 700+ applications. Hurray for perseverance! For my younger artists, seriously, just keep going.

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Ni hao, you guys! I'm honored and excited to be selected from a pool of 700 artists for the 5th Crystal Ruth Bell residency by @chinaresidencies, from November to December in Beijing. What an awesome way to round up the year! 😍 I'm looking forward to continuing my work in climate change and sustainability with the residency theme, Nourish. The last time I was in China was more than 10 years ago, on a journalism assignment / youth ambassador thing before the Beijing Olympics, so another visit is long overdue. Let's get this Mandarin restarted, y'all. I even have my reusable chopsticks ready. 😁 This is the second time I applied for this grant, so kids, it just goes to show: If at first you don't succeed, eat your feelings then try again. 😂😉 Xie xie, everyone! 我很高興! 😍 #climatechange #contemporaryart #sciart #artscience #catherinesarahyoung

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2. My fellow residents and the residency staff

For the most part, I’ve been quite lucky with fellowships because no one is a drama queen. I really loved being with my fellow Red Gate Residents this year, and the staff has been fantastic and supportive. I’m also pretty blown away by many of the senior Chinese artists I’ve met, who have been very generous with their time and humble despite their accomplishments. Also, there’s an artist I met in my Vienna residency that was also in Beijing! The world keeps getting smaller.

 

3. The food is great (and nothing to be scared of)

My residency project is about food, so oh poor me, I had to eat my way through Beijing. At first, I was panicking at the thought of buying so-called fake food that I would read about before my arrival. To be honest, I encountered none of these issues; if they exist, I was told by several locals that one might find them in the countryside but not in the upscale markets in the more modern areas of Beijing.

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Day 11. A challenge with doing a project on the future of food in China is that the people are already adventurous eaters, and people have been eating insects for centuries. Unlike 2014 when using crickets and worms in certain ways was still a bit new, here I need to be clearer with frameworks and stories. I can't feed people scorpions on a stick; you can already buy them here for 25 yuan. One of the scorpions hurt my palette (crickets and larvae are still better IMHO) and my dumplings were too spicy so I ate some ice cream. I spied many people eating hunks of meat off the bone and all these made me nauseated so I went back to my apartment for some ginger tea. 😂 #ApocalypseProject #FutureFeast #climatechange #adaptation

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4. Reconnecting with childhood and grad school friends

So much time with familiar faces! Barbie has known me since I was 6! I knew Qing Qing from grad school in NYC and she lives across the street from the apartment that Red Gate let me stay in! Tina is a classmate from grad school and she visited! (Her grad school thesis was about food and she trained in culinary school, so our conversations really helped in my residency project.) How amazing to reconnect with all of these people!

 

5. Training in taekwondo after a year

If there’s something I’m thankful for in this residency that I was not expecting, it was training in a taekwondo school again. I haven’t stepped inside a dojang since injuring my hip from side kicks, so I almost cried when my feet touched the familiar rubber mat. It’s so good to train in a school…with a mirror. My poomsae are so off. I had stopped bringing a uniform with me since Vienna, as I had given up on finding a nearby school. Note to self: bring the freaking dobok every time. Plus the coach was World Champion! Hurray for kicking! I will die with this sport (though I hope I won’t die doing it).

This is also the first residency where I felt well enough not to bring a cane. I’m definitely taking way better care of myself this time.

 

6. Visiting the Great Wall

See what I mean? This was my second time on the wall. I’m definitely way fitter this time around, ha.

 

7. The very adaptable people

Flexibility is, I find, a very Chinese trait. China is very much a Big Brother state, but I found the people I interacted with to take this in stride, as though they were used to it and simply found ways to get on with their lives. While I’m sure this has disadvantages, as a (half) Chinese person, female, and of color, who has lots of dreams and has faced lots of challenges owing to her sex and race and background, I think this adaptability and determination to go on are survival skills that have served me well in all the years of being an artist. I also really like seeing the elderly in China; lots of community gatherings such as tai chi, mah jong, singing, etc. It feels less lonely here, for sure.

 

8. The future is here

I designed some Climate Change Couture masks back in 2014-2015, and exhibited them in a show at the Institute for the Future and Swissnex San Francisco. Little did I know this would work the best for me battling Beijing smog in 2018.

I spoke about this a lot during my talks, such as this one in Crossboundaries, an architecture firm in Beijing:

 

9. Can you feel the power?

There are a lot of places in Beijing that will make you contemplate about the centuries and dynasties that it took to build this city. They’re quite inspiring and exhausting to walk around in. Fragrant Hills and the Botanical Gardens looked tiny on the map and I thought I’d be done in the morning. I came home…12 hours afterwards. The good thing about splitting a residency in two is that one can run around in Part 1, determining which ones to go back to and include in your project in Part 2.

 

10. An older history of science

Still a nerd, I think my favorite place in Beijing is the Beijing Ancient Observatory, which was built in 1442 during the Ming Dynasty. Many places i loved in Vienna were built in the 1800s and are therefore babies in comparison. Most history books are so Western-centric and I was grateful for being reminded that the oldest technologies in the world aren’t far from my backyard.

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I love this courtyard! 😍

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TLDR: I had kept my expectations low, mainly because I didn’t have enough information about China as lots of websites like Google are blocked. And so I was prepared for anything. It’s wonderful to have a wealth of information, a lot of new friends, and a tank of inspiration to draw from as I prepare to finish this residency in 2019. Do reach out for more about Future Feast and The Planetary Renewal Spa!

 


 

In November 2018, I was artist-in-residence of China Residencies and Red Gate Residencies as the 5th Crystal Ruth Bell Resident Crystal Ruth Bell was co-founder of China Residencies who passed away in 2014; the residency is held in her honor. The projects I am working on are Future Feast and The Planetary Renewal Spa from The Apocalypse Project series. I will be back in March of 2019.

 

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It’s that time of the year when I finish all residencies, fellowships, talks, and exhibitions, and reflect on the year that’s about to pass. It’s been a wonderful year of learning from different cultures and finding other ways of pursuing my practice. In 2018, I held residencies and fellowships in Vienna (KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery), Beijing (China Residencies and Red Gate Gallery), and Taipei (Mekong Cultural Hub and the British Council). This post recalls some of my favorite memories during my Vienna residency.


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Upside down castle! 🏰😍 #SchlossWalks

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My residency with KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery was, without a doubt, one of the best and most rewarding residencies I’ve had. Being in the quiet environment of the Schloss Laudon complex, having a very supportive staff (Hi Nicole and Brigitte!) and wonderful collaborators, and having freedom and time made me push myself and not waste a day. It also helped that I was around nature and was able to go hiking every day if I wished. I came out with another body of work and more questions that I hope to pursue as I move forward.

Here are memories that I took away from Vienna and hope to return to one day:

1. The museums

Specifically, I could live in the Naturhustorisches Museum Wien (Natural History Museum, Vienna), and bunk in the meteorite room and hang out with the taxidermists and herpetologists. Then I can take a break by going across the plaza to check out the cabinet of curiosities at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Then walk across the street to MuseumsQuartier and take a nap on one of the purple benches. It was fantastic to drink in all of this knowledge and be inspired by it.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The meteorite room! Hello again, lover. 😍

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2. The Tiergarten

I love animals and have always been seeking to incorporate zoology (one of the subjects my mom used to teach) into my work, so it was such joy to work with Gerhard Heindl, the historian of the oldest zoo in the world, to produce our collaborative piece, Der Tiergarten 1.0: Human Forces on the Animal Kingdom.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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It was really great to welcome Dr. Gerhard Heindl at our group show at the Federal Chancellery exhibition hall yesterday! Dr. Heindl is the historian of the Schönbrunn Zoo, whom I’ve been collaborating since the beginning of my residency with KulturKontakt Austria. Together we produced this project for Wild Science: Der Tiergarten 1.0: Human Forces on the Animal Kingdom is a board game that illustrates the human forces that affect the animal kingdom and, consequently, the biodiversity of the planet. The two-person game allows the players to reflect on the effects of border walls, climate change, poaching, etc., while moving game pieces on the board. The wood was taken from a 100-plus-year-old dying maple tree that was planted in the Schönbrunn Tiergarten, the oldest zoo in the world, and was cut to prevent safety hazards. The artist then sanded and laser-engraved it with a design based on the original menagerie plans of the Tiergarten by Jean Nicolas Jadot de Ville-Issey in 1751. The game cards include archival images of animals in the Tiergarten with images dating before World War II. The game recalls popular card games such as Pokemon and Exploding Kittens, whose strategies for mass attention the artist reflected on. What might we do to make people think about biodiversity in their daily lives? https://wildscience.cc/2018/06/12/der-tiergarten-1-0-human-forces-on-the-animal-kingdom/ #WildScience #DerTiergarten #SchonbrunnTiergarten

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It was also a treat to go around the zoo in a golf cart to carry some 100+ year old wood!

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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When the historian of the world’s oldest zoo personally drives you with a suitcase full of stuff for your collaboration. 😂😍 Danke for the lift, Dr. Heindl! #WildScience

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3. Schloss Laudon and Augustinerwald

I miss the castle that we were never allowed into. And the swans and flowers. And those two sculptures of wild boars. And the room that used to be a sauna that was turned into art studios. And most of all, the stories of previous residents.

I also miss my bathtub, the Schloss Laudon fox, the trees I would say hello to, the bugs, etc.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Gonna miss you, Schloss Laudon fox! Good to see you on our last days. #SchlossWalks

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There were no taekwondo schools nearby so I had to find other ways of being centered. Thankfully, there was a forest right outside the schloss, so off I went many times. Being in nature is one way to flex our muscle against capitalism and fascism, so this is one thing I always make time for:

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Hiking my normal route counterclockwise is definitely a lot better. Look at this light! 😍 Plus the muddy parts become uphill and easier and I shaved off 15 minutes from my usual time. 😀

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4. My fellow residents
As KulturKontakt Austria’s first artist-in-residence from the Philippines (sheesh, aren’t I always the first artist from the Philippines?), it was very mind-expanding to meet fantastic artists from Eastern Europe. To most Asians, when we think of Europe it’s usually the London-Paris-Barcelona triad and nearby, perhaps similar to how Westerners automatically think “Japan” or “China” when they think of Asia. Perhaps we surprised each other. It’s always a very humanizing event to meet different people and realize how very similar we are. Not to mention how amazing their food is.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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What a gorgeous day for a picnic! 😍

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5. My non-residency friends
Isn’t it great to click with people from all over the world? In this residency I met some activists, translators, artists, and many other people who made my three-month stay in Vienna seem as though I was home. There are still lots of freethinking people in Austria; I highly recommend checking it out!

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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One Manileño down, one to go. We’ll miss you, Poklong! Even me; I live in Malate and you’re in QC! 😂

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6. New skills
Each project makes me want to push myself and learn something new, so it is with a lot of pride and excitement that I report that I can now work with a belt sander and a laser engraver. The latter is only after a lot of help from German-speaking people at HappyLab. I’m a member of a maker lab—how miraculous is that?

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This century-old tree took so long to work on. Now I need a massage. But very happy to work with my hands. 😂😍 #ChicksWithPowerTools #WildScience

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7. Working with kids
I think working with children and youth will always be part of my practice, so hurray for the first group of writers for Letters for Science!

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This June 18th, I was at Eferding,  the third oldest city in Austria, to hold an art and science workshop for KulturKontakt Austria's Artists in Residence Go to School program. The 13-year-old students studied their specimens under the microscopes, learned about Austria's historic Novara Expedition, did a scent workshop, and for the last fifteen minutes the girls and I discussed feminism. 😂😍 These were the kids who wrote the first cohort of Letters for Science, Wild Science's participatory project where the public writes letters to people skeptical of the science of climate change, shape of the earth, vaccinations, etc., to create a respectful and empathetic discourse with people of different beliefs. Their letters were exhibited at our group exhibition at the Austrian Federal Chancellery in Vienna. It was really good to meet them for the first time. Thanks, kids, and to their English teacher, Frau Eva Heider-Stadler! Eferding is also the place where astronomer Johannes Kepler got married, so it was cool to visit! #WildScience

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8. Being around the history of science and art
From carrying a pizza box outside Johannes Kepler’s old apartment to having coffee in Gustav Klimt’s old stomping grounds, Austria is pretty fantastic for art-science nerds like me.

9. The Naschmarkt

 

If I add up the ages of all the old science books I bought, they will span centuries. I miss my Saturday routine of grabbing a couple of Kaspressknödel and saying hello to my favorite booksellers, Gerard and Idris.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Last day in the flea market and said goodbye to my favorite stalls. Going to miss these century-plus-old books! 😍😭

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I also unwittingly built a collection of Nazi books, including a 1938 Mein Kampf. I’m still hoping to incorporate into a project. (I only read half of it; how depressing to read someone’s unadulterated hatred for other people.)

 

10. The cakes
Hey Austria, when I finally lose the 10 pounds I gained from three months of eating Sachertorte, I hope to see you again.

 

 


Thanks for everything, Vienna! Hope to see you again soon!

 

From April to June 2018, I was artist-in-residence of KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery. The body of work produced during this time was Wild Science.

The Planetary Renewal Spa

The Planetary Renewal Spa (2018- ) is a series of self-care performance rituals that illuminate the effects of climate breakdown. The spa currently offers two services: Back Massage to Simulate Hurricanes and Disappearing Honey Facial.

The Planetary Renewal Spa: Back Massage to Simulate Hurricanes

Back Massage to Simulate Hurricanes takes clients on a sensory experience of a hurricane, from light feathery touches of the coming storm to a full catastrophe.

 

The Planetary Renewal Spa: Disappearing Honey Facial

 

Disappearing Honey Facial gives clients a relaxing facial massage using raw honey while the artist narrates the story of bees disappearing because of climate change.

 

The Planetary Renewal Spa: Back Massage to Simulate Hurricanes

 

The Planetary Renewal Spa was first performed at Red Gate Gallery in Beijing as part of my residency as the 5th Crystal Ruth Bell resident of China Residencies.

What’s up, Taipei! I’m honored to be one of the 10 inaugural SEAΔ fellows for 2018-2019, with my aim to develop the arts-led climate change educational program of The Apocalypse Project. Very excited for what looks like a kick-ass program and to meet some incredible people. I’ll be in Taiwan from November 25 to December 8; an obvious invite to meet up of you’re there! 😙

SEAΔ is a program co-created by Mekong Cultural Hub @mekonghub and the British Council @britishcouncil which creates space for cultural practitioners to reflect on how their work in arts and culture can contribute to sustainable development within South East Asia through their individual and collective leadership.

Learn more about the program and the other fellows here: https://mekongculturalhub.org

I’ll be traveling for some residencies and fellowships, so until then, here is a preview of some work coming soon:

I got dolled up to create videos for The Sewer Soaperie and The Ephemeral Marvels Perfume Store:

I explore the intersection of religion, belief, and technology in the center of mysticism in Manila:

Ciao!

xo
Catherine

“The best thing about being an artist is being able to mingle with all kinds of people.” I’m stoked to be in the Fall 2018 issue of the magazine of my beloved grad school alma mater, the Visual Arts Journal of the School of Visual Arts NYC about my art residencies and speaking engagements around the world. A sure sign of old age.

Together with other international students and scholars from The Fulbright Program, the article, “Global Warming”, is written by Alexander Gelfand (pp 20-23) and I talk mostly about how I’ve adapted to many places around the world (TLDR: take care of your mental health, have a healthy diet, exercise, and make friends 😉).

This interview happened during a late night in my residency in Vienna with KulturKontakt Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery; residencies are always great time to reflect on past work to see where we want to go next. Images courtesy of USAID Asia, Rache Go, Plan International Asia, Gui Gomes, LABVERDE, Joni Ong, & Centre for Sustainability PH. Always wonderful to remember all the places art has taken us!

Check out the issue here for more articles: http://www.sva.edu/about/visual-arts-journal

I’m honored to contribute an article to the October issue of Vienna-based springerin – Hefte für Gegenwartskunst, a quarterly magazine dedicated to the theory and critique of contemporary art and culture. Entitled “A Different Shape of Progress” (Fortschritt in anderer Form), I write about contemporary art and social inclusion through the context of my interdisciplinary art practice.

Order the issue here: http://www.springerin.at/en/2018/4/

The article is in German but send me a message if you want the original English article.

From the editor:

Issue 4/2018

#Progress

Is our society developing further? “Further” in the sense that efforts are made, in real practical terms, to remediate circumstances recognised as unjust and to actively set in motion processes that aim to promote balanced modes of living together? Is progress, which has so long determined the narrative of modernisation and social redistribution, still a significant category today? Are aspects of progress or more viable approaches to overcoming unjust, non-egalitarian relations perhaps to be found in the cultural realm rather than elsewhere? And should we give credence to ideologies of progress that locate such progress above all in the technological realm, possibly harbouring as a hidden agenda a conviction that societal mechanisms will somehow or other come into play in the wake of developments on the technological front? Contemporary art may perhaps always be one step ahead of all this, in that it seeks to impact on an irksome Here and Now from the perspective of the future, of a vision drawn with idealised or utopian brushstrokes. The fall issue unfurls scenarios that engage with this impact, asking to what extent it offers a viable means of working toward (also social) progress that genuinely merits this designation.