Hongtao Zhou

Net_Work installation at Honolulu Museum of Art invites visitors to navigate through a weblike system in this participatory installation. The gallery space is connected and reorganized by abstract wall maps of global shipping, immigration, internet, air traffic and many others. Net_work plays with ideas of agency and autonomy in a global economy, and foregrounds notions of self-empowerment within predetermined systems. Stretched across the gallery like spontaneous gestures, Net_work brings new meaning to the term “throw net” often used by fishermen who cast nets into the water to catch fish. The construction system uses fishing net as construction material to divide, manipulate and form transparent spatial systems. As visitors enter the system of nets, they will find their own direction on paths that lead through the installation. Net_work intends to prompt introspection on one’s ability to find self-awareness in existing paradigms, and draws attention to Hawaii's multifaceted connections to the rest of world.

Collaborating artists Kaili Chun and Hongtao Zhou chose fishnets as a language appropriate for an installation that situates Hawaiʻi at the center of global engagement. Established in 1950, the Artists of Hawaiʻi exhibition highlights work by artists living in the islands, offering insights on our time and place through contemporary art. Curated by Healoha Johnston, Artists of Hawaiʻi 2017 features installations by Kasey Lindley, Kaori Ukaji, and collaborators Kaili Chun and Hongtao Zhou that emphasize the role of the museum visitor in the art experience. In a shift away from the spectatorship approach to art, these four artists transformed museum galleries into immersive environments, and prompt visitors to reconsider their relationship with art as something experienced passively to something experienced more directly.

Interconnectivity is an undercurrent that runs through all three installations. Together, the ideas explored in the installations underscore connections one has to one’s own body, to the natural world, and to the global network in various media including video, skin, and synthetic fishnets. With government policies affecting women’s health, environmental stewardship, and global citizenship at the forefront of people’s minds, the subject matter presented here makes the exhibition especially timely.