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Cecilia Vicuña in Green Snake: women-centred ecologies

20 December 2023–1 April 2024
Group exhibition at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong

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Green Snake: women-centred ecologies focuses on the connections between art and the larger themes of ecology in the context of rising temperatures and extreme weather events. Gathering more than 30 artists and collectives from 20 countries, the exhibition presents over 60 works that draw on mythologies and world views with women at their heart to explore possibilities for other ecological relationships and imagine other futures.

Green Snake points to the extractive economies at the root of our ecological crises, economies that treat nature as a reserve of resources for exploitation. The exhibition asks what alternative narratives are activated through artists’ visions which celebrate nature as a generative force, many of them grounded in notions of care and interrelationship that are central to ecofeminism. The labour of care is essential to the reproduction of existence: this has been undervalued in patriarchal and imperial systems across broad geographies.

The exhibition title refers both to the celebrated ancient Chinese folktale about two demon sisters, White Snake and Green Snake, and to mythological snake-like figures across cultures and cosmological systems—just as snakes shed skins and emerge from hibernation, nature as a whole has a remarkable capacity to transform and re-awaken. In the eighth-century folktale Madame White Snake, the figure of Green Snake strongly represents women’s agency, sisterhood, and also gender fluidity; the tale has been widely reinterpreted in contemporary literature and cinema. On another level, in the exhibition, the snake’s sinuous curves echo the geomorphology of river systems and the vital energy of the water flowing through them. A number of artists in the exhibition have longstanding research interests in specific river ecosystems and in their associated mythologies. Dialogues between works rooted in different geographies highlight parallel struggles and parallel practices of empathy and care for non-human existence. The figure of an all-encompassing circle of planetary and cosmic renewal emerges in a symphonic call for a radical reorientation of the human within the whole.