Rockbund Art Museum Launches A New Research Project

Concept: Larys Frogier
Collaborators: Mathieu Copeland, Cosmin Costinas, Hsieh Feng-Rong, Billy Tang

An OBJECT to “frame” domestic life and social spaces;
A SURFACE to “generate, control, hide, block, reveal, screen, mapping, manipulate, and test”
text, image, and people;
A MATERIAL to “make, project, display, and stage”
representational forms in traditional and contemporary culture;
A CONCEPT to “question” geopolitical mutation 

in different localities, islands, seas, nations, and regions;
A PRACTICE to “unlock” contemporary institutions

in relation to theatre, museum, musical/dance/performative arts.

Initiated in 2020, CURTAIN is a long term research project, which will be articulated through a series of exhibition formats, discursive platforms and cross-institutional collaborations spanning a three-year period. Seeking to go beyond the fixed definition of an exhibition, the project looks to expand the dialogue with artists through the gathering of critical thinkers and practitioners from other social and cultural fields.

The concept of CURTAIN retains many manifold meanings and forms of engagement with the public. A curtain can be both a material and immaterial device shimmering between various stages and ways to gather around a collective performance. Rather than presenting a solitary project fixed to only one allocated timeframe and geography, we look to unfold this CURTAIN through an inter-connected series of commissions and collaborations that can propel us into new fields of inquiry. This long-term framework enables us to sustain emotions and conversations across different spaces, to disrupt our usual habits of consuming visual culture, and to build awareness and critical knowledge together.

Between 2020 to 2023, CURTAIN will comprise a series of exhibitions, publications, a seminar and other discursive events, artist commissions, and as an ongoing partnership with institutions around the world. In parallel to these activities, Rockbund Art Museum is also proud to launch CURTAIN Online. Beginning in June 2020, CURTAIN Online will initiate the move beyond a physical boundary through a bi-monthly editorial platform. This online platform will also feature ongoing contributions from practitioners around the world to engage in research and responses to the themes initiated by CURTAIN in parallel to the physical outputs of the project. Each issue will present a way to frame different conditions, realities, and methods for us to look at underlying concerns of CURTAIN in relation to the complex effects of the pandemic in this uncertain moment in time.

Commissions will play a central part in the development of CURTAIN and as a method of support for the growing list of collaborators working on this ambitious project. Many artists and practitioners will be impacted by the disruptions during the pandemic, therefore Rockbund Art Museum will look to safe-guard and contribute forms of support. Looking to enable vital practices to continue playing a crucial role in the eco-system of culture and contemporary art, the commissions will provide the platform with the ability to bring into fruition ideas, new directions, and production of contributions through various media. This will enable new discussions and interactions with different practitioners to continue, as well as contributing to the long term growth and future in research and education, and to extend these connections into more publication activities to share with our audience and local community.


By embracing the manifold meaning of CURTAIN, the project will be articulated through thematic “satellites”. Each satellite emphasize a distinct research arc and entry point to convene and collaborate within this ambitious platform:

CURTAIN 1: Re-enacting the Visible and the Invisible

Re-tracing historical memories and future paths for art, architecture, pedagogical models by exploring issues related to what is visible or invisible in technological platforms and social structures today.

CURTAIN 2: Alternatives to Imperialism

Looking at alternative models proposed by smaller-scale ecologies and cultures at the periphery to the dominant systems as inspiration for future change. This exploration will help us to understand the interdependence of different localities and the infrastructures that connect them together, but also the importance of transnational exchange from these overlooked perspectives.

CURTAIN 3: Concealment/Destruction/and the Unveiling of an Image

We explore the mutability of the curtain as a concept that undertakes different interactions as a physical divide to more fluid interpretations: from wall to water, light to shadow, fabric to screen. In order to understand the fragile condition that informs our temporal experience with images, it also important to consider the invisible relationships that influence the possibilities and limits of how an institution can function.

CURTAIN 4: Misidentifying the Self and Other

This research will extend our inquiry into how we understand and conceptualize what is different and Other to us. We will look at this performative relationship between individual and collective forms of identity to challenge the confines of how subjectivity is expressed through different narrative and spatial structures.


CURTAIN will begin through the inaugural launch of the bi-monthly CURTAIN Online in 2020.

Beginning in 2021 it will then develop across different locations, formats, discursive events and publication projects. This will include the organization of the symposium “UNDERCURRENTS” in conjunction with the Rockbund Art Museum 10th Year Anniversary Celebration. We are also happy to continue our cross-institutional collaboration with Para Site, Hong Kong. This collaboration will culminate in the first manifestation of CURTAIN as an exhibition co-curated with Para Site in Hong Kong.

Instead of a fixed linear trajectory, CURTAIN is a project that unfolds peripatetically across different contexts, platforms and institutional formats. A key concept will be how the project will be continually re-contextualized in dialogue with institutional partners and collaborators around the world who will contribute to the evolution of meaning generated by the research themes established by the CURTAIN project.



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