Artist Yu-Chen Wang work asks fundamental questions about human identity at a key point in history, where eco-systems and techno-systems have become inextricably intertwined. Drawing has been central to Yu-Chen’s practice allowing her to explore mechanical and biological forms, and the ways in which their bodily borderlines blur and mutate.
Yu-Chen was in residence at Grand Union from 21 May to 29 June to explore the stories behind Junction Works; the history of canals, specifically the Grand Union Canal and its Digbeth Branch; technology, machineries and engineering utilised in building the transport network and transforming the industry and people’s life, as well as a wider social context.
She is very interested in Birmingham’s mechanical and engineering history in constructing waterway navigation – the way in which canals’ construction changed nature and our landscape, and nowadays canals gradually became part of nature. The newly established eco-techno-system of evolving wildlife, waterborne culture, the bio-devised nature and communities living afloat intertwine with the relics of industrial past.
Over the residency period, Yu-Chen created numerous activities, including reading, walking, drawing and writing to explore the canal and the life in and around to engage with the community and general public. The events were a method for developing and reflecting her research, new work in progress, as well as converting the act of spectating to active participation.
Yu-Chen is working towards developing a new work that will unfold alongside Junction Works’ renovation.
Friday 8 June and Friday 22 June
Yu-Chen hosted a small, get-to-know-you breakfasts at the Gallery to compliment her research.