Drifting through Asia House: artists intervene in our spaces

Part of Antoni Malinowski's work at Liverpool's Everyman Theatre

Drifting through Asia House: artists intervene in our spaces

15 October 2014

By Pamela Kember

Drifting Dérive is about opening a dialogue between visitors, artists and the architecture of Asia House to provide unexpected encounters in the familiar as well as the concealed spaces of our building.

We have arranged for a series of installations, performances, drawings and artworks at Asia House over five phases in the coming months. They will be executed by artists who have all drifted between East and West, between European and Asian cultures, between multiple languages and between various identities.

The project was initiated to explore issues of migration, movement and travel, within various geopolitical and socio-cultural zones. Our artists will explore the transitory nature of experience: a sense of drifting through a space which mirrors how we experience many global and local sensations almost every day.

The artists in the first phase of the project will include Antoni Malinowski, Livia Garcia, Bada Song, and Eiko Soga, whose work blurs the boundaries between various sites, points or elements, perhaps reflecting the relations between architecture and art, lines, or grids.

These artists are not merely mining the legacy of their transcultural identities. Their transdisciplinary work allows for other topographies to emerge, or collapse, through the use of of material, colour, form or the moving image.

The work will draw us into encounters between them and us and explore the nature of public and private space, and revealed and concealed space.

For example, window drawings and painted mark-makings will be constructed by Antoni Malinowski  whose painstaking  hand-painted work will echo the flowing effect of sparkling raindrops. His sequential beautiful striated marks, when painted onto the glass that bridges the Library Annex to the studio of Asia House, will act as an interface between the internal space and the exterior world as people enter and leave the building. The theme will extend to the wall inside the foyer with his painting entitled Drifting as well as to the glass façade as you enter through the main doors.

Bada Song will surprise through her most recent sound-installation piece entitled Yeonji-Bongsunwa. This is part of a triptych which visitors will encounter as a song known as Bong Sun Flower drifting out from a sound pipe, one of two cylindrical forms dappled with bright red and pink nail varnish and lipstick. The piece also references the novel Dictee, (1982) by the Korean writer Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, a complex and unorthodox novel that navigates the spaces between women and resistance and revolution. The third element is Bada Song’s disconcerting self portrait as a traditional Korean bride. Instead of being shown with the traditional small red dots on both cheeks and on the forehead, the image is encircled by a large red dot.

Underpinning the curatorial discourse of Drifting Dérive is a focus on the disconnect that can exist between experiences of the past and present, between the old and the new and between our senses: a familiar smell or sound as well as our conceptual awareness of our built environment. We are made aware of how we encounter small spaces, slithers, or fissures that exist in between structures while at the same time acknowledging conceptual edifices that surround us daily.

To ‘drift’ has a poetic as well as a perambulatory meaning of to flow, or wander, to be carried along, like a paper boat in a stream. There is also the phrase, “Do you get my drift?” when you want to be clear someone is following the course of your conversation. But it can also mean to drift off, as in a daydream, or when, through sheer boredom, you find your thoughts wandering elsewhere.

Most importantly, dérive is all about the unplanned journey, where there is no map, no guide and no course outline to guide the way.

Dérive therefore allows for new artistic conditions to emerge that include a heightened sense of awareness of our surroundings. It is this active, exploratory aspect of a dérive or drifter that opposes the classic romantic literature’s notion of the flâneur, namely the wanderer or stroller, that emerged in romantic literature from Baudelaire in the late 19th century.  He wrote of a strolling male spectator, with no sense of purpose or direction, who merely lingers and is adept at ‘getting lost’ in his own thoughts and observations of street life.

Closer to Debord’s characteristics of the wandering figure is that of the lone ‘heroic’ or elusive hermit, which forms part of the literary and pictorial tradition in Chinese poetry and painting.  Literati poet Li Bai’s epic peripatetic lifestyle, for example, produced poetry that was full of playfulness, life’s pleasures and infused with fantastical imagery that he imagines on his solitary journey.

Similarly, Lu Xun’s short story collection Panghuang (Wandering) is said to mark the beginning of modern literature in China but also deals with the psychogeographies of the mind.

Interventions in the various spaces of Asia House’s New Cavendish Street building, from its walls to its ceilings and windows, will create new encounters with art and above all a response to contemporary life.

Artists in Phase 1

Livia Garcia

Antoni Malinowski

Carolyn Roy

Eiko Soga

Phase 2

Suki Chan

Yong Min Cho

Meekyong Shin

Bada Song

Phase 3


Amongst others

Drifting Dérive has been curated by Pamela Kember and Mariam Neza. It began on 13 October and continues until February 2015.

To see a variety of images of the exciting artwork that makes up Drifting Dérive click below:-