On the intersection of Western and Chinese opera, performance, power, colonialism, non-human pasts and futures, classical music, technology, and artificial intelligence.
An Opera for Animals will take the eponymous exhibition which debuted at Para Site, Hong Kong, and Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai in 2019 as its starting point. The exhibition examined how “opera” has been used as the name to describe various traditions of performance, social arrangement, entertainment, and spiritual work from around the world. By considering the almost perfect chronological overlap between the golden age of Western opera and Europe's occupation of most of the world, at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, the exhibition considered how the modern view, deeply connected to the colonial project, also changed the physical, emotional, and symbolic relationship between humans and animals, elevating the status of humans, in a view radically different from many indigenous systems of knowledge and value. The exhibition explored the way in which the future is now projected less as the rational thinking commonly remembered from the post-war era—advanced machinery, design, and social forms—and once more as a place of amorphous fear, of animals that might take over in artificial landscapes.
Cosmin Costinas is a curator based in Berlin. He was most recently Artistic Director for the 24th Biennale of Sydney (2024) and Kathmandu Triennale 2077 (2022), and Co-Curator of the Romanian Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale (2022), amongst many other previous projects. He was the Executive Director/Curator of Para Site, Hong Kong (2011–2022). He co-authored the novel Philip (2007) and has edited and contributed his writing to numerous books, magazines, and exhibition catalogs and has taught and lectured at different universities and institutions around the world.
Claire Shea is the Director at Fogo Island Arts, Canada, an initiative of Shorefast, a charitable foundation dedicated to finding alternative solutions for the revitalization of areas prone to emigration. From 2017 to 2021, Shea was the Deputy Director at Para Site, Hong Kong's leading contemporary art centre and one of the oldest and most active independent art institutions in Asia.