Songs We Carry
A solo exhibition by Charwei Tsai
Curated by Jo Ying Peng
8 May ~ 13 June 2021
Vernacular Institute, Mexico City
Songs We Carry is a project by Taiwanese artist Charwei Tsai made in collaboration with Tibetan filmmaker Tsering Tashi Gyalthang. It is composed of the series of videos Songs of Chuchepati Camp (2017), Songs of the Migrant Workers of Kaohsiung Harbor (2018) and Hear Her Singing (2017) that has been recomposed into a site-specific installation. The project takes the universality of song, in times of tragedy or jubilation, in poverty or wealth, to create an open platform for understanding the collective struggle, resistance and hope behind the voices. Showcasing three vastly different human conditions in the face of global uncertainties, together the three works encompass Tsai and Gyalthang’s interest in the collected songs of people whose voices are often unheard.
Songs of Chuchepati Camp depicts the state of mind of the displaced earthquake victims in Kathmandu, Nepal. Songs of the Migrant Workers of Kaohsiung Harbor portrays the loneliness of laborers living on fishing vessels. Drawing on the foundations of care and solidarity for women, Hear Her Singing invited the Refugee Women Drama Group to sing their chosen songs. These personal and powerful songs include religious, political and pop styles as well as original material, as dedications to the struggle of women in Yarl’s Wood detainees and asylum seekers in the UK.
Often incorporating geographical, social and spiritual motifs into her works, Tsai’s practice is a highly personal exploration of universal themes and is concerned with shared experiences of economically disadvantaged groups from different communities. Influenced by the philosophy of Tantric Buddhism, “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form” is positioned as a discursive concept in her work, in which Tsai meditates on the complexities among cultural beliefs, spirituality, and transience.