‘Leaderless’ by Isaac Chong Wai at Bilsart
Wai is a Berlin-based artist from Hong Kong. Influenced by the personal and the global events, he engages in themes of collectivism and individualism, geopolitics, migration, historical trauma, identity politics and the public sphere. He was awarded the Fellowship at Tarabya Cultural Academy by the German Embassy and Goethe-Institut in Istanbul in 2020 and 2021.
His exhibition showcases a series of new works, including performance, video, print works, neon lights and installations, and a series of conversations named “Podiums.”
“Leaderless” is an artistic political campaign that attempts to decentralize the representation of power on one individual and resists the violence of totalitarianism. By compiling and “rectifying” the gestures and postures that politicians perform to acquire power, Chong’s latest performance, “Rehearsal of the Futures: Leaderless,” (2020) envisions a future without a totalitarian leader and how it might impact spheres of collectivism, decentralization and altruism.
By remodeling the mechanism of political campaigns and questioning the perception of the leaders’ bodies, the work rewrites the body by means of obscurity, reciprocity and transnationality. Performing a leaderless world, the exhibition reconciles viewers with powerlessness, unanswered demands, ignorance from authority and the denial of individual freedom.
Accompanying the performance, Chong has developed a body of work including several podiums segmented into parts; a neon sign that continuously transliterates the words “LEADERLESS” AND “LESSLEADER,” a set of screens playing “advertisements” of the artistic political campaign, and a flag made of semi-transparent fabric with the word “LEADERLESS” cut out in the middle.
In the first part of the exhibition, a newspaper publication with contributions by Evrim Altuğ, Ceren Ergenç and Gündüz Vassaf will be published. The live performance, “Rehearsal of the Futures: Leaderless,” will take place at Bilsart on Jan. 6, 11, 13 and 19 respectively with performers Meltem Gürlevik, Su Güzey, İsmet Köroğlu, Can Özmen and Verda Zincirkıran. For the second part, “Podiums,” a series of conversations, will be hosted live or digitally on Jan. 19, 20, 26 and 27 respectively, including speakers Evrim Altuğ, Pia Entenmann, Ceren Ergenç, Banu Karaca, Consul General Johannes Regenbrecht and Gündüz Vassaf.
The exhibition is supported by the Tarabya Cultural Academy, Zilberman and Bilsart.