Inheritance Projects


Like Ships in the Night


Susanne Burner, Huang Xiaopeng, Yacoub/Lasserre, Paola Yacoub

15 October - 15 December 2008, OCAT, Shenzhen

The title of the final exhibition, …like ships in the night refers specifically to the residents of the OCAT International Residency and their experiences. Sharing the same waters, they met frequently and exchanged thoughts in small groups but maintained their independent rhythms. They travelled considerably as individuals - to carry out research, view exhibitions and complete visa applications - never to be collectively at the same place, at the same time. Such a dynamic is by no means unproductive or anti-social. Rather, this title and sentiment is an aim to represent an accurate picture of the experience as artists-in-residence and to develop a final exhibition featuring work that does not adhere to a curatorial imperative. An exhibition catalogue was published in 2008.


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Common threads run fleetingly through the residents’ work; Susanne Burner and the Paola Yacoub & Michel Lasserre both deal with notions of doubt and scepticism while investigating unrelated themes and employing very different theoretical and material tools to communicate them. Huang Xiaopeng (CH/UK) and myself, Claire Louise Staunton (CAN/UK) through artistic practices and written research respectively, are dealing with issues specific to particular social groups within Shenzhen. It is thanks to the residency programme that allows for each of its residents to follow their independent projects, for the artists and their work to pass …like ships in the night.

Susanne Burner

Born in Ellwangen 1970.


Using books, video and photography, Susanne Bürner’s artworks ask you if you can see the invisible and believe the unbelievable. Her previous work has included a video and book project using images and footage of fervent music, movie or sports fans with their object of desire absent(finistere 2005, 50,000,000 Fans Can’t be Wrong 2006). Taking this request even further, shetempts you to perform invisibility with her book-work, Vanishing Point (2006), a handbook instructing readers on how to become invisible taken from an anonymous source on the internet.


Susanne came to the OCAT residency to be closer to the seismic institute in Nanning where they study the behaviour of snakes in order to predict earthquakes. A theory dismissed as ludicrous by many scientists, Bürner tried to investigate the claims for herself but could not penetrate the secrecy surrounding the institute. The failure to access the snakes under observation contributes to the dubious impressions of the scientific research and lead the artist to undertake her own research study into snakes as a means of predicting seismic catastrophe. Her studies culminated in the pseudoscientific book-work Understanding the World of Snakes, a collective testimony on the phenomenon using images, texts and interviews from multiple sources. This project is the materialisation of the mystery surrounding the Nanning project, invoking other snake myths present in most other cultures. Understanding the World of Snakes  plays with humanity’s collective insistence on creating a reality from fiction, allowing us to believe the unbelievable.


Recent solo shows, amongst many others include…


2008 Embodied Truth, Goethe Institute, Hong Kong

2007 finistère, Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin

2000 Trees, Galerie Karlheinz Meyer, Karlsruhe (with Candida Höfer)

…and group shows…


2008 Past Forward, Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK

2007 Performance Z-A: a Pavillion and 26 Days of Events, Storefront Gallery, New York, NYC

2006 Busan Biennale, Busan, Korea

2004 Playlist, Palais de Tokyo, Paris

Huang Xiaopeng

Born in Shanxi, China 1960


Huang Xiaopeng is disturbed by the clashes of capitalism, colonialisation and communism that are taking place in today’s China. The re-appropriation of British townscapes in Shanghai were the subject of study for his most recent work, Rock Point Inn (2008) where an entire housing estate has been turned into an exact replica of a southern English village. Huang has investigated the complexities involved in (mis)translation between languages using internet programmes, and has been a major component of several video works and public communication banners. As Chinese artist who spent fourteen years in the UK, his perspective is coloured by two often conflicting cultures. The aesthetic outcome of an experience of displacement that Homi Bhabha names the ‘unhomely’, Huang’s work is an attempt to locate a personal and more generally, a Chinese identity amidst such cultural displacement.


His time at the OCAT residency was spent pursuing his larger body of work, named You are the Dream of my Realisation. Developed in 4 part in different locations in the UK, its former colony, Hong Kong and in Shenzhen, this project will examine how contemporary Chinese culture is involved in voluntary colonialisation through its attempts to mirror foreign lifestyles. His video installation is accompanied by the first sculpture work Huang has created since his return to China in 2005. His work violently interrogates the sport of golf, a recently adopted hobby in Shenzhen, using sporting and household utensils,. The golf-course is the training ground for the nouveau-riche and new aristocracy of modern China, eating up the rural landscape surrounding the city. 


Recent shows, amongst many others include…


2008 Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong, China

2007 The 14th Barcelona Independent Cinema Festival, CCCB, Barcelona, Spain

2006 Women shi gaibian (La rivoluzione siamo noi) Isola Art Center  Milan, Italy

2006 The Thirteen: Chinese Video Now,  P.S.1, New York, USA


Paola Yacoub and Michel Lasserre have been working in collaboration since 2000. Until 2005, they have been investigating the possible limits of documentary practices, and the conditions which determine their interpretation. The project initiated by curator Catherine David reached an end point in a body of work which examines how documentary can interpolate one’s understanding of a territory, specifically situated in Lebanon.


From 2005 to 2006, Yacoub/Lasserre worked on issues surrounding the deceptiveness of information and the continual positivity of images. This work was elaborated in Berlin in the framework of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. Since 2007, they began a collecting contemporary motives of scepticism composing the long-term, multifaceted project Selected Motives. Constituted of  three separate but interdependent performances, ‘Tamils, Tigers and Tsunami’, ‘Hotel Lobbies’, and ‘Screen Scenes’, Selected Motives consider scepticism as a mode of existence in which our reliance and faith on images is thrown into doubt. The works restage the relationships between visual arts and scepticism, as initiated at the birth of Modern art and maintained today. At the OCAT residency, Yacoub/Lasserre took the opportunity to examine such issues of scepticism in the Chinese context and to present their material to an audience which perhaps has (or perhaps not)  a culturally specific attitude towards the visible and doubt. They will perform Selected Motives at the Guangzhou Art Academy and at the OCAT final exhibition, working in both English and Chinese.


Recent exhibitions, amongst many others include…


2007 Thessaloniki Biennale, Greece

2006 Gwangju Biennale, Korea

2005 After the Fact, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany

2004 Le Plateau, Paris France

2003 Venice Biennial, Italy

2002 Fundacio Antoni Tapies, Barcelona, Spain

Paola Yacoub

In a not unrelated tangent from the group project Selected Motives, Paola Yacoub has carried the theme of scepticism and the image forward to a small solo work. A video piece entitled Shenzhen Fast Food was made, unstaged, in a restaurant located in the OCT neighbourhood where there is a plasma screen hanging on the back wall.


In this piece, the relation between the customers and the screens is cast into doubt. The diners are almost not moving and almost not looking at the hanging screen. Their postures in front of the screen manifest at the same time indifference, rejection, and a sense of expectation. Sometimes, the indifference of the public towards the screen is even ostentatious. These uncertain, intricate positions leave us at the edge of solipsism. This doubtful situation characterizes a sceptical position as a mode of existence, something very common today.

Claire Louise Staunton

While at OCAT, Claire Louise Staunton - Inheritance Curator, has initiated a research project into art practices in Shenzhen. Considering the extraordinary short history of the city (30 years), with a migratory and temporary population, she sought to investigate art practices in past and present to recognise their role in building a cultural identity. A form of future orientated archaeology, her research will be included in a publication at the end of her residency but is by no means a conclusion to the research project. Claire intends to return to Shenzhen in order to continue her project, working towards finding an alternative means of recognising cultural heritage in the anomaly that is Shenzhen. Also while in residence, she curated a live soundtrack performance to 3 video works Blind Man & The Sun at the He Xiangning Museum. This event involved two of the other residents, international and local artists.