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Rami George, Untitled (with my father) (still), 2020. HD video, color, sound, 20:31. Courtesy of the artist.

Networks of (Be)longing

Oct 8, 2020 - Nov 15, 2020

511 Building - Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design

Center for Contemporary Art & Culture

CCA&C Exhibitions

511 NW Broadway
Portland, Oregon, 97209   [map]
503.226.4391

Networks of (Be)longing October 8–November 15, 2020
Opening and Performance: Thursday, October 8th, 6:00 PM
Online Opening: Thursday, October 15th

Adjacencies, dissonances, and dynamics of power circulate within networks, shifting pathways and modes of operation. Philosopher, sociologist, and anthropologist Bruno Latour’s Reassembling the Social (2005) acknowledges that evolving networks constitute and even foster human relations; but rather than assuming homogeneity, he proposes a “tracing of associations,” enabling heterogenous elements of sociality to be “assembled anew.” This speculative tracing of relationalities—the recognition of networks, their multitudinous ways of being, and their world-building capabilities—comprises the premise of this exhibition.

//What is maintained within their strands of relation and intersection? And what is at stake when networks nourish artistic ways of being and longing—(be)longing?//

Networks of (Be)longing queries the relational traces structuring and embedded within artistic networks. The installations, publication, sculptures and videos of Canaries collective, Rami George, Tabitha Nikolai, and Mengda Zhang disclose structures of care, communality, labor-relations, and familial ties bound by tensions and desires. Acknowledging their potential to be “assembled anew,” the exhibition highlights artistic research and experiences that reckon with modes of operation through a (non)structure of four overlapping “channels”: functioning within, bypassing, decoding, and reprogramming.

Networks of (Be)longing unfolds across a series of sites, creating a network all its own and stretching across physical and virtual sites. The exhibition includes a group show at the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture (CCAC); and a new commission at CCAC and satellite solo presentation at the Paragon Arts Gallery at Portland Community College, Cascade Campus by Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) Artist-in-Residence, Rami George, entitled and one day will tell you so many stories (September 25–November 15, 2020). Remote viewing access to the works, accessible written and audio captions, labels, and the essay are available via the PNCA Online Galleries. Networks of (Be)longing is also accompanied by a suite of programs, including a collaboration with the MFA Critical Studies candidates entitled, Project Group Share, and an accompanying curatorial essay.

Adjacent to Networks of (Be)longing is an online exhibition, (see also:) variable performances of a well-designed site index, curated by CCAC Curatorial Fellow and MFA Critical Studies candidate, Kyle Cohlmia. The exhibition activates networks through a series of video and performance works that proliferate from the concept of the site index, in which connective links circumscribe viewers within boundaries, but also retain the potential to click beyond them.

Networks of (Be)longing is organized by Laurel V. McLaughlin, independent curator, and supported by Mack McFarland, Assistant Professor at PNCA and Director of Converge 45, and Elizabeth Bilyeu, Director of the Paragon Arts Gallery. This exhibition is co-presented with Converge 45.


Networks of (Be)longing Programming:

Opening of Networks of (Be)longing with a performance from Dust-free Chatroom by Mengda Zhang
Thursday, October 8, 2020, 6:00 PM PST
FREE and open to the public

Rami George “Video Playlist” Screening and Q&A
Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 6:00 PM PST
FREE and open to the public

Giant Spiders, Suburbia, and Portals: A Twitch Activation and Conversation about Online Communion with Tabitha Nikolai and Emma Lugo
Friday, October 30, 2020, 5:30 PM PST
FREE and open to the public

A Performance from Dust-free Chatroom, 2018 by Mengda Zhang
Friday, November 13, 2020, 6:00 PM PST
FREE and open to the public

All of the programming will be online via the platforms Zoom, Vimeo, and Twitch. For program descriptions, Zoom program access, registration, and program recordings please see the CCAC Events Page or the Networks of (Be)longing page on the PNCA Online Galleries.

Artist Bios: Canaries is a network of art-adjacent women and gender non-conforming people living and working with auto-immune conditions and other chronic illnesses. The group name references the phrase “canaries in the coal mine”—shorthand for those whose sensitivities are early indicators of adverse conditions in the environment. Canaries functions as a support group with monthly meetings, a listserv of 200+ members for sharing confidential advice and support on surviving in and outside of medical institutions, and, previously, an art collective.

Rami George is an interdisciplinary artist currently living and working in Philadelphia. Their work has been presented in exhibitions and screenings at MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge; Anthology Film Archives, New York; Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow; Grand Union, Birmingham; the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; LUX, London; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and others. George received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. They continue to be influenced and motivated by political struggles and fractured narratives.

Tabitha Nikolai is a trashgender gutter elf and low-level cybermage raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, and based in Portland, Oregon. She creates the things that would have better sustained her younger self–simulations of a more livable future, and the obstacles that intervene. These look like: fictive text, videogames, cosplay, and earnest rites of suburban occult. Currently she teaches and manages galleries for the Portland State University School of Art + Design. Her work has been shown at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Vox Populi in Philadelphia, Ganka Gallery in Tokyo, and has been covered by i-D Magazine, the New York York Times, and Art in America. She hopes you’re doing okay.

Mengda Zhang (b. 1993, Nanjing) works in performance, installation, and video to explore her interests in labor and bodily experience. The work unpacks personal, social, and historical complexities of subjects and search for non-binary perspectives, from reality, literature, or imagination, which escapes any one-sided grand narrative. Her individual and collaborative work has been exhibited internationally at Museum of Modern Art, New York, London Design Festival (2019), Studio 10 New York, and Icebox Project Space, Philadelphia, among others. Zhang received her BFA degree from the School of Art Institute of Chicago in 2016 and her MFA degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019. Curator bio:

Laurel V. McLaughlin is a curator and art historian from Philadelphia based in Portland, OR. She holds MAs from The Courtauld Institute of Art and Bryn Mawr College and is currently a 2020–2021 Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellow and History of Art Ph.D. Candidate at Bryn Mawr College. Her dissertation explores migratory aesthetics in performance art situated in the United States, 1970s–2016. McLaughlin’s writing has appeared in Art Papers, Art Practical, Performa Magazine</e>, Title Magazine, Performance Research, and Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, among others, and she has curated exhibitions and performances at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Bryn Mawr College, AUTOMAT Gallery, FJORD Gallery, and Vox Populi.


[1] Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 5.

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