Charles Sandison talks about the Guangzhou event
Charles, how was this first experience on the Hennessy 250 Tour in China?
It was really interesting! Actually, part of the reasons that made me join this project was understanding that it was going to be a unique touring exhibition. I saw this first stop as a bridge to connect with local culture and the Chinese community in Guangzhou.
Did you find Guangzhou inspiring?
Yes it was! I’m not a traditional studio based artist and the world inspires me. Walking around the city and reaching out to the local people who were associated with this project has definitely enriched my artwork. You have to picture the work I did for Hennessy as an organic piece: the further it travels, the more it grows. It’s going to be interesting to see how each venue will change the exhibition and will create a new dynamic.
Was it challenging to work at the Zahra Hadid Opera House?
This kind of project is always a learning experience. Each location brings its own set of challenges and opportunities. I liked the idea from the beginning that it wouldn’t be easy to adapt. The area where the exhibition is located is sort of a halfway space between the Opera House - as its true function - but then it’s also created in such a way as to propose a serious platform to communicate the history of Hennessy. On one hand you have to respect the architecture but on the other hand you have to maintain your physical presence as an artist for me and as a Maison with its heritage for Hennessy.
What was your impression about the exhibition?
I was pleasantly surprised! I kept a little bit of distance while I was in the process of creating my own artwork. I wanted to be both close to Hennessy and at the same time I wanted to maintain a kind of critical distance so I could operate in a free and uninhibited way. I really enjoy the spirit and the passion that drives Hennessy forwards but I needed to back off a little bit and I didn’t want to hear to much about the curatorial structure of the exhibition, I wanted to arrive and feel like a visitor! And it was important for me to be in Guangzhou for this first iteration so I could see my work alongside the overall museum plan.
How did the Chinese audience respond to your artwork?
In China, I wanted to be like a spider that hides in the corner of the installation and watch people come in and see how they react to it. It’s always a learning experience for me. I get to see how different cultures react to this new technological art form. Visitors in Guangzhou looked surprised which is a good reaction! That means you have begun a dialog with the audience.
How do you see your work evolve in the next 50 years?
My work is basically “alive”. I’m like a gardener who planted a garden. All my artworks are growing and changing all the time. So if my 7th generation’s Sandison happens to be at the 500th anniversary of Hennessy and sees my artwork, he will inherit a living and growing piece. It won’t be the same artwork as it is now, it will have evolved the same way Hennessy will have changed and it will live alongside the Maison. My work will not be just stored in the archive, it will become part of the archive.