featured project

Mo Kong, Swift Island Chain

Project Team Members (Powerhouse Arts Staff): Brittni Collins, Cuba, Daniel Quinn, Jeremy Gender

Commissioner/Funder/Presenter(s): Smack Mellon

project overview

Swift Island Chain is a solo exhibition by Mo Kong exploring racial melancholia and the information gaps experienced by Asian immigrants through disjunctures in contextual communication.

The Public Art team assisted in constructing a series of modular post-pandemic office environments that were part of the exhibition, partially composed of Corian® interior architectural panels and TômTex® lab-grown leather, presented in various states of completion.

An alienating melody composed by sound artist Lemon Guo provided additional texture to the installation, creating a foreboding and anxious atmosphere. The artist also worked with engineer Menyu Chen to develop and train artificial intelligence to translate verses from classical Chinese poetry into English, which appear as cut-outs in the panels.

The panels were assembled into cubicles, or “islands,” to mirror the empty nests of swifts, which have historically been used in Chinese cooking to make bird’s nest soup.

The exhibition will be open until April 14, 2024.

artist biography

Mo Kong is a multidisciplinary artist and researcher currently residing in NYC. They received an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Their work is always deeply impacted by social events, coded by the “educational information system” to post questions about the current political environment. Their research-led process usually takes the form of large-scale installations involving scientific research and multiple journalism perspectives in which they challenge key issues of the day using complex narratives that synthesize the past with the present. The systems they build merge multiple environmental crises and social political issues, through scientific research and social investigation, they find the similarity between two systems and bring them to one narrative storyline.

They have been the subject of solo exhibitions at Queens Museum (New York), CUE Art Foundation (New York), Cuchifritos Gallery (New York), Artericambi Gallery (Verona), Gertrude Gallery (Stockbridge), Chashama (New York). Their work has been included in the RISD Museum, SFMOMA, Children’s Museum of Arts, Mana Contemporary, Noguchi Museum, Spring Break, ARTISSIMA, Make Room Gallery, Hesse Flatow Gallery, and Island Gallery. They also received fellowships and residencies from Macdowell Colony, Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, Triangle Art Association, The Drawing Center, City Artists Crops Grant, Mass Moca Studio, Vermont Studio Center, Lighthouse Works, and Artists Alliance LES Studio Program. They have been finalists of Artadia, NYFA fellowship (Architecture/Design), and Van Lier fellowship. Their work is mentioned in Hyperallergic, Artforum, Art in America, Cultured Magazine, Artnet BOMB Magazine, Artpaper, CoBo Social, Wall Street International, SFMoMA Public Knowledge, and others.

Images courtesy of Smack Mellon. Photo by Etienne Frossard