Cut Down The Middle at Galerias Municipais / Lisbon

Cut Down The Middle

João Vasco Paiva, Heman Chong, Ramiro Guerreiro, Ko Sin Tung, Magdalen Wong

Curated by: 

Claudia Pestana in dialogue with João Vasco Paiva

09.04.2021 – 13.06.2021


Av. da Índia 170, 1400-038 

Lisbon, Portugal



Cut Down The Middle gathers a selection of recent works by João Vasco Paiva with pieces by Heman Chong, Ramiro Guerreiro, Ko Sin Tung and Magdalen Wong, artists with whom Paiva has exhibited, worked, shared space or been in conversation with over the past decade. 

Paiva’s The Highways Department Colouring Book (2016), a collection of interventions drawn by the artist on a series of blueprints appropriated from the Hong Kong Highways Department Manual of Standard Drawings, established the initial premises for the exhibition. Although this type of manual precisely outlines the concrete infrastructure that constitutes the city, from furniture such as barriers, to the materials to be used for footways and cycleways, those experiencing the city as their lived environment are mostly unaware of the pervasiveness of these specifications except in moments of crisis. With this context as a departure point, the exhibition gathers work by these five artists where the backdrops of the realities we inhabit, be they physical, conceptual or artificial, are highlighted, exposed or put into question. The topographies made present through these works, as well as the passage of time within such settings, suggest the reciprocity between our perceptions and the effects that the arrangements behind  such landscapes have on how we understand our surroundings.   

This show is also an invitation to consider how, in the same way that rarely noticed urban elements like kerbs, bollards, or street markings, affect our routines daily, the constructions inherent to communication and information platforms have a similar impact on our ways of thinking about and even imagining our worlds. Our experiences are continuously woven and reconfigured from a multitude of contexts that span beyond what we watch, read, see, or even exchange with others. Cut Down The Middle is anchored on relationships between the work of João Vasco Paiva and the works of the artists Heman Chong, Ramiro Guerreiro, Ko Sin Tung and Magdalen Wong. These associations are only suggested and the connections between works are open to construction, appropriation and misappropriation in exactly the same way we make inferences from the elements underpinning our lived environments.

João Vasco Paiva

João Vasco Paiva (b. 1979, Coimbra) transforms his perceptions of spaces he inhabits, and objects found within them, into works that include videos, sculptures, and installations. These transformations result from processes of mapping, translating, moulding and casting. Paiva’s examination of the ephemerality, and durability, of the structures and languages behind the construction of these often neglected items, draws out their continuously shifting characteristics.

Paiva’s solo projects include.Connecting.(with Irini Miga), PRACTICE, New York (2017); Green Island, Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong (2016); CARGO, Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, Lisbon (2016); Dormant Fabric, Counter Space, Zurich (2015); Objects Encrypted, Goethe Institut, Hong Kong (2013). His work has been in numerous group shows including Bold Tendencies 2018: Ecology, Bold Tendencies, London (2018), Scraggly Beard Grandpa, Capsule Shanghai, Shanghai (2017), The Part in the Story Where a Part Becomes a Part of Something Else, Witte de  With, Rotterdam (2014), Living as Art Form, Independent Curators International, New York ( 2013).  


Heman Chong 

Heman Chong (b. 1977, Malaysia) is an artist whose work is located at the intersection between image, performance, situations and writing. His practice can be read as an imagining, interrogation and sometimes intervention into infrastructure as an everyday medium of politics. Chong is the co-director and founder (with Renée Staal) of The Library of Unread Books, a library made up of donated books previously unread by their owners. 


His solo exhibitions include Spirits in the Material World, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, fikitionfiktionfiktion, Weserburg Museum, Bremen (2019); Legal Bookshop, Swiss Institute New York, Never is a Promise, Calle Wright, Manila, Philippines (2018); Ifs, Ands, Or Buts, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2016); An Arm, A Leg and Other Stories, South London Gallery, London, Never, A Dull Moment, Artsonje, Seoul (2015). His work has been in numerous group shows including #Art #Commons, Nam June Paik Art Center, Korea (2018), Take Me I’m Yours, Jewish Museum, New York (2016), Time of Others, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, expo zero, Tate Modern, London (2015). 



Ramiro Guerreiro 

Ramiro Guerreiro (b. 1978, Lisbon) works with the body, architecture, and documental material to question socio-political and economic contexts. His practice often involves performance and results in drawing, photography, video and printed material that challenge perspectives on cultural  heritage. His practice gives particular focus to the elements and functionalities that make cities into how they are perceived and experienced. 


His  recent solo exhibitions include Moi Aussi…, Lehmann + Silva Gallery, Porto (2019); The  T.I.N.A. Pamphlet, πνεῦμα / Pneuma Project, Lisbon, and Abrigo para um só corpo, École Supérieur de  Beaux Arts, Angers (2017). His work has been in numerous group shows including De Outros Espaços,  Galeria Municipal do Porto, Porto, Ponto de Fuga, Galeria Municipal do Torreão Nascente, Lisbon (2019);  Escala 1:1, La Tabacalera, Madrid, O que pode a Arte?, Atelier-Museu Júlio Pomar, Lisbon, and Mistake! Mistake! said the rooster… and stepped down from the duck, Lumiar Cité, Lisbon (2018). 


Ko Sin Tung 

Ko Sin Tung (b. 1987, Hong Kong) uses media, ranging from painting to video and digital prints, to convey personal lived experiences and how these are related to the structures and configurations of  urban space. She creates work that reflects insights into how the images and objects that populate domestic and urban spaces exist between people’s projections and expectations of daily life and the future.    


Her solo shows include Adaptation, Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong, and Dust and trivial matters, The Bunker, Beijing  (2019). Her work has been in numerous group exhibitions including Borrowed Scenery, Cattle Depot, and Café do Brasil, Para Site Art Space, both in Hong Kong (2019); Whatever Works, Whatever It Takes, Goethe-Institut China, Beijing, The Racing Will Continue, The Dancing Will Stay, Times Museum, Guangzhou (2019); Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition 2018 – Offline Browser, Hong-Gah Museum, Taiwan (2018); Rehearsal, Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong (2018); and The 8th Vladivostok Biennale of Visual Arts, Vladivostok, Russia (2013). 


Magdalen Wong 

Magdalen Wong (b. 1981, Hong Kong) processes material drawn from social media, advertising  and film, as well as local shops and markets, into videos and installations. By examining how these found images and sounds operate as languages, the artist seeks to understand the human need to build comfort and improve efficiency.  Yet, through this practice, she also questions how this desire to create and invent affects how we evaluate, alter, and exploit our surroundings and our own selves.    


Her solo shows include Dreaming of Dying Robots and Artificial Flowers, Make Room, Los Angeles,  and Invented Landscape, Fresh Window Gallery, Brooklyn (2017). Her work has been in numerous group  shows including Crush, Para/Site, and Dismantling the Scaffold, Tai Kwun Contemporary, both in Hong  Kong (2018); TECHSTYLE Series 1.0: Ariadne’s Thread, Mill 6, Hong Kong, Splotch, Lesley Heller  Workspace, New York, S.O.S. Save Our Souls. Art for a Time of Urgencies, EMAP sound and moving image  festival, Seoul (2016); The Part in the Story Where a Part Becomes a Part of Something Else, Witte de  With, Rotterdam (2014).