Always container, sometimes contained: A dialectics of outside and inside

A Review on TRA Collective’s exhibition at Greatorex Street

Disoriented objects, reversed spaces, and musical notes escaping their scores—this is the imaginative space of the exhibition Always container, sometimes contained. Within the gallery space, threads escape from canvases, suspending from industrial materials, and weaving into rigid nets that hold the ground. These threads also exist in an abstract form, sewing and mending memories like they connect distant times and spaces.

Installation shot of “Always container, sometimes contained”. Photo courtesy of Daniel Browne.

The exhibition title, abstracted from Gaston Bachelard’s poetic picture of the space we inhabit, suggests a site of contingent relations. Found objects and materials sourced from the land of nature turn into domestic settings. Straight lines of modernist furniture and frames of the canvas cut through space, whilst at the edges, tentacles/tendrils or fuzz grow, echoing the exhibition’s concept of fluid boundaries, softly. All are the lines we draw, around which we build up the concept of inside and outside spaces, though merely reflections of our cognitive framework. Yet the boundaries dissolve on the soft surfaces of artworks, much like the watercolours and charcoal can also seep into the canvases, revealing inner layers that bloom into flowers.

Outside the gallery, two performance art pieces amplify the dialogue of the space situated in the flowing time. In a narrow corridor of the gallery space, artist Sol Santana weaves a labyrinth with red thread, perhaps a reminder of the tale of Minotaur. The maze creates a private space and a sanctuary for queer bodies. The red thread serves both as division and navigation. Viewers are forced to pick sides, either to escape or to embrace the space, while also being led to experience a spatialised time—a time of transition and transformation.

Thus, the artworks resonate harmoniously with each other, while the rain during the opening performance hits the glass roof, blending into the orchestra that is playing concurrently, though without strings.


展評:TRA Collective最新展覽「始終是容器,時而被容納」

迷失的物,反轉的空間和跳脫曲譜的音符,這是展覽「始終是容器,時而被容納」(Always container, sometimes contained)想象的空間。展覽中的線逃逸出畫布、從工業建築材料上綿綿垂下,也編織出堅硬的網。線同樣也以一種抽象的形式存在,縫補回憶,勾連遙遠的時空。


發生在展廳外的行為表演作品放大了內外的對答。在狹窄的走廊里,藝術家Sol Santana手執線團編織起迷宮。彌諾陶洛斯(Minotaur)的故事或許能提供一些隱喻。迷宮暫時成為一個私密空間和掩藏酷兒身體的庇護所,卻時刻提醒人們它分隔空間的無形力量。觀眾被迫做出選擇,逃離或者接納,而線團同時區分於引導著觀眾,引導人關注到一個情境的、空間化的時間,一個處在過渡和轉變的時間。


Performance at the exhibition. Photo courtesy of Haiyi Wang.


About the exhibition & TRA Collective

‘Always container, sometimes contained’ curated by TRA Collective took place at Greatorex Street Gallery between 21 May – 25 May, 2024.

Always container, sometimes contained, the house serves Bachelard as the portals to metaphors of imagination.” – John R. Stilgoe

The exhibition features artists using found objects, fibre, images, and sound to create a visual record that touches on themes of homescapes, inhabitance, and spatialised time. Just as Bachelard sees the house as the portal to metaphors of imagination, ‘Always container, sometimes contained’ presents a site of contingent relations where interiors and exteriors can be reversed, a space full of reverie and imaginings, a portal that opens to “vastness of place while at the same time admitting within a vast inverse.”

TRA Collective is a curatorial collective co-founded by Lanzehang (Lan) Ying and Haijia Blair Luo, both independent curators currently based in London. They graduated from the MA Curating Contemporary Art program at the Royal College of Art in the UK. With academic backgrounds in art history and social sciences, and a shared passion for contemporary art, they started TRA. The prefix “TRA” signifies going beyond and existing in between. It encapsulates the idea of crossing boundaries, borders, and navigating the liminal spaces where new possibilities and perspectives emerge.

策展工作室TRA Collective的最新展覽「始終是容器,時而被容納」於2024年5月21日在倫敦白教堂附近的 Greatorex Street Gallery開幕。本次展覽里的藝術家們使用現成物 (found objects) 、纖維、意象和聲音來創造一個觸及家(homescapes)、居住方式 (inhabitance) 和空間化時間 (spatialsed time) 主題的視覺記錄。正如巴捨拉將房屋視為想象力隱喻的入口一樣, 「始終是容器,時而被容納」展示了一種打破內外關係二元的場所,一個充滿無意識記憶和想象的空間,一扇打開了「地方之廣大,而同時內藏之,亦廣大之反」的門。

此次參展藝術家包括:Zoe De Caluwé, Betty C Fan, Isabel Gonzalez, Anna Ill, Sophia Rivera-Montanes, Steven Scott, Nicolaas van de Lande, Zhu Guanhai, Sol Santana, Lin Ji.

TRA Collective是由應瀾澤杭和羅海嘉共同創辦的位於英國倫敦的策展工作室,她們畢業於英國皇家藝術學院MA當代藝術策展專業。她們擁有藝術史和社會科學學術背景,懷抱著對當代藝術的共同興趣與理想,共同建立了TRA。

英文前綴「TRA」意味著超越和存在於兩者之間,TRA Collective通過每一次展覽與藝術家,觀眾共同探索當代文化中的過渡與轉變,以及如何跨越時空和界限,從而創造出新的敘事可能性。



Always container, sometimes contained
21-25 May 2024
Greatorex Street Gallery, London


Text by 撰文 x Qin Chuan 秦川


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