Nikita Yingqian Cai is Artistic Deputy Director and Chief Curator of Times Museum. She has curated exhibitions such as Times Heterotopia Trilogy (2011, 2014, 2017), Jiang Zhi: If This is a Man (2012), Roman Ondák: Storyboard (2015), Big Tail Elephants: One Hour, No Room, Five Shows (2016) , Pan Yuliang: A Journey to Silence (Villa Vassilieff in Paris and Guangdong Times Museum, 2017), Omer Fast: The Invisible Hand (2018), Zhou Tao: The Ridge in the Bronze Mirror (2019), Neither Black/Red/Yellow Nor Woman (Times Art Center Belin, 2019) , Candice Lin: Pigs and Poison (2021) and One song is very much Like another and the boat is always from afar (2021). She initiated the para-curatorial series in 2012 and launched “All the Way South” research network in 2016. She was awarded the Asian Cultural Council Fellowship in 2019.
Public Lecture: When a Trebuchet Met a Museum
Tuesday 25th April 15:00 – 17:15 | AB 3107
Over the past five years, Nikita Yingqian Cai has been focusing on curating an interdependency in the evolving network of Times Museum. By referring to a case of how a trebuchet entered a contemporary art museum, how it was fabricated and contextualized in an exhibition she curated in time of the pandemic, Cai maps the variety of human agencies and non-human actors in the network of a museum, and unpacks the disparate tools of ‘curating’ and the expanded field of ‘the curatorial’.
In Candice Lin: Pigs and Poison, the artist offers a speculative archaeology of the ‘Black Death’. Rather than being an inert object, the ‘trebuchet’ (used by the Mongol army to siege the town of Caffa in 1347) materializes how the Asiatic ‘other’ might have become associated with disease and condemnation in the fourteen century European context, connects the administrative activities of exhibition-making with the formative events of the curatorial to tell a history of the present. By inserting things into already existing conditions and setting up a friction between them, a shadowed context is activated and may subsequently change what we think it is all about. In this sense, the curatorial allows us to blur boundaries and categorizations thus challenging their constraining powers, and forms a constellation of meanings. So when a trebuchet met a museum, it sent off a recurring process of unlearning which inquires what might have or could have been.
In this public lecture, Nikita will also share some insights into different career paths in the broad field of museum, exhibition making, and contemporary art.
(organized by prof. Zairong Xiang, with support of AH, HRC, and DKUNST Art on Campus)