Publish or cherish? Publication in the course of defeat

by JB2021 ESOK Curatorial Team

Publication in the course of defeat

“Water which is too pure has no fish,” as the saying goes. Visibility or lucidity is therefore not always beneficial. Sometimes translucent states present potentialities. KUNCI Study Forum and Collective, backed by the Monthly Event of Jakarta Biennale 2021, invited Chen Yun to talk about this issue. A short conversation that will show Chen Yun’s long journey with the Dinghaqiao Mutual Aid Society publishes the gentrification effect that happened in Shanghai in various ways, from stories on paper to half-cooked foods on the stove. Besides, we also invite her to tell the story of 51 Personae that draws the 11th Shanghai Biennale viewer’s attention away from an a-usual-sterile space to the tumultuous and multifaceted life of the city. Chen Yun will share her strategies, stories, and her ongoing rumination. About whether publishing can give rise to hope when dealing with the forces of capital and state power? Whether victory is just a daydream to be seized with a tool like publishing? Or should we always be prepared to accept defeat?


Chen Yun was born and raised in Shanghai. She was a member of the curatorial team of the 11th Shanghai Biennale (2016-17) and curated 51 Personae, a public program series that revealed the transformational potential of 51 persons/groups in Shanghai. 51 Personae grew out of her work initiating the Dinghaiqiao Mutual Aid Society (2015-18), a self-organized venue for studies, communication, reflection, and social services, in a working-class/migrant neighborhood of Shanghai. Her work was inspired by another project that she has been working on since 2010, called West Heavens, an India-China social thought and contemporary art exchange project. She is now working on 51 Personae as an independent-publication project.

Rifki Akbar Pratama is a co-researcher for the School of Improper Education (SoIE). SoIE has been the main program of Yogyakarta’s KUNCI Study Forum and Collective since 2016. Designed to problematize the concept of school, SoIE functions as a platform for living research in which KUNCI experiments with various formats of study that exist in different localities and across histories.


Photo used in our publications for this event was taken and adapted by Emma, December 2019, Jingyunli 7, Shanghai.

This monthly event is supported by Plus Jakarta, Enjoy Jakarta, the Ministry of Education and Culture, SAM Fund For Art And Ecology, and jointly held with Jakarta Arts Council.


JB2021 ESOK Monthly Event is a platform run by the curatorial team as a way to expand and share ideas, thoughts, and the process of working towards making JB2021 ESOK happen. Stay up to date on our upcoming event through our social media channels on Instagram and Facebook.