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2013.11.03 Sun, by Sarah Harper Translated by: 许辛蕾
A Gallery on the Roll

little victories (venue variable; see website)

Have you ever felt dwarfed by an exhibition space? Swallowed up by cavernous high ceilings and looming art works? Well, the little victories gallery offers a refreshing alternative. Attached to the back of a cargo tricycle, this compact, transportable gallery traverses the streets of Shanghai, never stopping in the same location twice. Founded by Katie Surridge, Julian Palacz and Stefano Ogliari Badessi, recipients of Shanghai’s Swatch Art Peace Hotel Residency (a 3-6 month residency awarded to both international and Chinese talent), this project can be read as an artist’s initiative. The premise of the gallery is to bring the art to the public, building a foundation for greater accessibility to and understanding of different creative practices.

The little victories gallery officially opened on July 16 2013, and hosted various exhibitions by contemporary artists from around the world—specifically Evgeny Bondarenko, Katie Surridge, Savinder Bual, Cristina Ohlmer, Saoirse Higgins, Willy Chyr, Jordan Kostov, Stefano Ogliari Badessi, Julian Palacz, Kathryn Gohmert, Luca Bray, Lili Chin, Shang Cheng Xiang, Vittoria de Ferrari Sapetto, and Alec Von Bargen.

The gallery’s flexibility means that an assortment of different media has already been displayed all over Shanghai, from Saoirse Higgins’ weather balloon and kite flyer installation on the Bund, to Cristina Ohlmer’s print and ready-made object installation on East Nanjing Road, and Julian Palacz’s print and digital media installation in the French Concession, among numerous others.

(more after the jump)

little victories opening

Cristina Ohlmer’s contribution to little victories

Cristina Ohlmer’s exhibition was held in front of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel for 15 minutes, before moving to Wuding Lu’s Paradox Café. Ohlmer’s reflective installation attracted a significant number of onlookers, its silver patterns acting as abstracted representations of light reflected from a river through a window in the artist’s home. Images of this window were found on the right wall of the exhibition space. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the exhibition was the inclusion of a decorative birdcage, taken from Ohlmer’s windowsill. This little personalized item added a quirky touch, echoing the small proportions of the gallery space.

Julian Palacz’s contribution to little victories

Julian Palacz

Julian Palacz displayed in front of Xinchejian, otherwise known as Shanghai’s hacker space. This particular selection of Palacz’s works can be read as an exploration of the digital traces that people leave behind. Using instruments of surveillance the artist warps the notion of privacy and generates new forms of portraits from the data we (sometimes unknowingly) produce.

On either side of the space were two miniature screens, displaying people crossing busy intersections. Overlaying these small screens were transparent prints mapping the movement of the people on display. At the same time as drawing the viewer into this act of voyeurism, the work creates an unsettling sense that they, too, might be being observed — the footage could potentially have been streaming live from a security camera somewhere nearby.

A print at the back of the gallery depicted a sample of mass results taken from Yahoo’s search engine, presented as finely printed but obscured text that almost appeared to burst out downwards from the roof. In the middle of the space Palacz installed three small LED machines swaying back and forth out of sync, looping textual accounts of the artist’s three favorite folklore tales about cats. All three works heavily featured information and data generated by people, as well as a sense of movement. The diminutive size of the screens, the LED text machines, and text on the back wall mirrored the shape of the gallery space.

Julian Palacz

The little victories gallery provides a unique take on the potential of public art, particularly within the context of Shanghai. While in a static gallery the audience for these works might typically be rather limited, the project’s mobility and rootedness in the public sphere means that any curious passers-by who chance upon it are free to stop and investigate. Onlookers tended to scope out the whole setup — bike, metal box and all — before looking into back of the box to see the exhibition contents, sometimes even asking the artist about his/her work. This potential dialogue between artist and audience, coupled with the intrinsically open nature of the project means that little victories is an adaptable little space indeed, and an engaging deviation from the norm.

Evgeny Bondarenko’s contribution to little victories

Stefano Ogliari Badessi’s contribution to little victories

Alex Von Bargen’s contribution to little victories

Willy Chyr’s contribution to little victories

Willy Chyr

Savinder Bual

Katie Surridge

little victories on the move

Kathryn Gohmert’s contribution to little victories

Jordan Kostov’s contribution to little victories

Saoirse Higgins’ contribution to little victories

Alec von Bargen’s contribution

Katie Surridge’s contribution to little victories