Contingency Plans: Or, Living with Unstable Grounds


University of Hong Kong / Shanghai Study Centre
March 29 – June 1
Opening March 29, 3.00pm
Curators: Adam Bobbette, Daan Roggeveen

Contingency Plans: or, Living with Unstable Grounds considers how the unexpected forces of the earth shape landscapes and ourselves. This unorthodox exhibition draws on understudied cases from overlooked places. Through 19 case studies assembled by over 20 contributors, and exhibiting more than 200 objects, our long held assumptions about nature and culture are overturned. Urgent new concepts are created that navigate the complex entanglements between ourselves and the instabilities of the ground.

Each case study is based on an unexpected terrestrial event. Examples include: a landslide in Hong Kong, persistent desertification in China, volcanic eruptions in Indonesia, the seepage of mining waste in West Papua, and the gradual accumulation of the surface of the earth in the UK. As each event unfolds, it entangles social systems. This is because the instabilities of the earth are inseparable from the social processes which reshape them. Tracing them, as the cases in Contingency Plans do, shows us how new realities have been – and continue to be – fabricated.

This exhibition is a tool-kit for how to live with the uncertainty that pushes upon us from all directions, not least the uncertain future of the Earth itself.

This research based exhibition features content that ranges from amateur cell phone videos to fine art photography. All material is treated equally as stories of entanglements: government reports are interpreted with the same intensity as a post-card and aerial photograph.

Project Background
Contingency Plans is an international research platform that includes an exhibition, round-table, public lectures, exhibition catalogue and book. It is based on case studies contributed by artists, journalists, photographers, activists and scholars from around the world.

Contributions by:
Nabil Ahmed, Charlotte Malterre-Barthes, John Beck & Mark Dorrian, David Biggs, Adam Bobbette, Adrian Blackwell, Joshua Bolchover, D.T. Cochrane, Raymond Craib, Seth Denizen & Jerry Zee, Matt Edgeworth, Marco Gualazzini, Landings (Natasha Ginwala & Vivian Ziherl), Rika Febriyani & AbdouMaliq Simone, Sukiman Mohtar Pratomo, Richard Mosse, Oscar Motuloh, MAP Office, Andrew Toland, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 张愚聪 Zhang Yucong, Zhou Ying.

About HKU / Shanghai Study Centre
The Shanghai Study Centre (HKU/SSC) is an annex of the University of Hong Kong. HKU/SSC is a vibrant place where people from all over the world and all over China meet. Each semester, a group of students from Hong Kong comes to study at the Centre. The Study Centre aims to be a place where new ideas about urban development in the fastest urbanizing region in the world emerge.

The public program at HKU/SSC invites critics with challenging opinions, architects with provoking viewpoints, planners with innovative solutions and academics with new theories – all with the aim of understanding the current condition in Chinese cities, and to explore beyond today and tomorrow. The goal is to be able to generate new ideas that can contribute to better, more intelligent and more interesting cities and architecture.

Press Contact
Vivian Song
+86 138 161 728 35