ROYCE NG

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THE RED AND THE BLACK

in collaboration with Gavan Blau

2012, The Red and the Black, archive, education program, performance, installation, dimensions variable

"Ng's work for "Garden of Learning" addresses the relationship between Asia and Africa. The relationship is a tense one, despite its absence from official discourse. This we learned no later than the 2008 coup d'etat in Madagascar, for example, which was directly triggered by a government contract that would lease half of the countries arable land to the Korean company Daewoo. It is reflected again in the five Somali pirates serving life sentences in Busan for their involvement in the hijackijng of a Korean tanker, and again in the 4th High Level Forum for Aid Effectiveness, which was held at Bexco (opposite the Museum). While Asia and Africa are linked in a perfectly symettrical regime that associates growth with Asia and Debt with Africa, Ng envisions an alternative scenario-one that explores the overlap of Asian and African traditions and cultures in ways that allow the two continenets to enrich eachother. To realize it, Ng will build an Afro-Asian micronation. Though it is a conceptual space, this micronation has a physical prescence in the exhibition proper: a wooden stand that looks like a platform, but also recalls a stranded ship skeleton, or maybe even the pirate utopias set up by the corsairs of the Barbary in the 18th century on the North African Coast. A further element of the micronation is an "Inauguration Ceremony" for which school children will create flags and national myths, compose a national anthem, and write a constitution and so forth. This Inauguration Ceremony will be performance as a theatrical play in November 2012." Roger M. Buergel, Garden of Learning: Busan Biennale 2012 catalog

This project consists of three parts, an archive, an education program and a performance in which Royce Ng worked with Australian artist and lawyer Gavan Blau to devise a micronation which they used as a conceptual structure to explore the economic, cultural, political and historical relationship between China and Africa. The name of the nation is Xin Lamu, xin being the Chinese word for ‘new’ and Lamu referring to the island off the coast of Kenya which was the site of first contact between the Chinese and the African people in the 15th century. For the project, Ng and Blau invited children and students from Busan to become the citizens of the micronation and spent the duration of the biennale running nation building workshops with the participants to devise a opening ceremony for the nation that would articulate their research and meditations on Sino-Afro relations.