Curatorial Practice

The process of a growing mycelium network.
Diagram found on the World Wide Web:
︎ Collaboration and Network Thinking
︎ Decentralized Curatorial Approach
︎ Community-led Knowledge Sharing

The philosophy of Ethereal Garden represents an evolution in my curatorial practice and thinking. It resonates with the intricate, resilient, and interconnected networks found within nature's mycelium and the internet.

This concept diverges from traditional centralized forms of curation, embracing instead a decentralized, peer-driven model. Analogous to how mycelium forms an extensive underground network to absorb nutrients from its environment, Ethereal Garden unites diverse contributors, fostering a rich exchange of ideas and content.

In this networked approach to curation, each contribution is viewed as a node, with each acting as a valuable source of knowledge or creativity, mirroring the complex intertwined threads of mycelium. This organic, ever-evolving network underpins the decentralized curatorial practice. It thrives on mutual benefit and shared growth, cultivating a dynamic community of researchers, learners, and creators.

Ethereal Garden embodies adaptability and resilience, organically growing and evolving in response to the needs and contributions of its community. Rooted in collaboration and decentralization, it represents a transformative approach to collective learning and curation, promoting diversity, inclusion, and the power of interconnected thinking.
- Sha Li

The Canada Council for the Arts has recognized and awarded the Ethereal Garden: Curatorial Research Network with the Digital Greenhouse Strategic Innovation Fund.

March 2023 / On-going

Haroon Mirza, Solstice Star, Audiovisual, 3D object and animation, developed in collaboration with Scott Utting, 2021
︎Physical Art x Digital Interaction
︎ Gift Exchange
︎ Collective Resonance

Distributed as part of the exhibition ||| at Lisson Gallery, Solstice Star is a gif(t) created by artist Haroon Mirza, and initiated by Sha Li that merges physical art practices with digital interactions.

In the physical space,
Solstice Star appears as a vinyl QR code on the wall. Upon scanning it, a self-referential, augmented 3D sculpture is activated. By recontextualizing the Solstice Star on the blockchain, anyone can own the GIF version of the artwork as NFTs. This allows the artist to track ownership, remaining creatively engaged and continuously evolving within an emerging network, while enabling collectors to become part of the artist's unfolding project over time.

Through minting,
Solstice Star leads the way into a shamanic journey in the digital space, blending mysticism and technology to find balance by combining opposing energies, akin to the yin and yang concept in traditional Chinese philosophy. The project follows the principles of Daoism, emphasizing the practice of "wu-wei" — effortless action in harmony with the flow of nature and the environment.

Solstice Star with the healing frequency of 111 Hz, a prominent feature of the exhibition |||, aims to inspire the audience to find their own frequency. Token holders can claim ownership of the work and enhance the exhibition experience by incorporating their own frequency later on, resulting in a co-created piece that fosters collective resonance. Solstice Star is a gift for those intrigued by non-hierarchical digital interactions involving art, nature, science, technology, sustainability, and spirituality.

Solstice Star Gif(t) is led by Haroon Mirza and Sha Li, in collaboration with Greg Hilty and colleagues at Lisson Gallery and Verse.

May 2021 / On-going

Pak,, screenshot of the website logo. 
︎ New Value System
︎ Emerging Technology
︎ Community-led Project

[] introduces an exclusive 'burn' mechanism using Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). It utilizes blockchain technology to establish a new value system for digital art. 

NFTs represent unique digital assets linked to real-world objects, all securely stored on the blockchain—the value layer of the internet.

Within the burn system, collectors owning Pak's artwork as NFTs, including The Fungible Collection launched by Sotheby’s, have the option to permanently remove them from circulation on the blockchain. In return, they receive 'Ash,' a social currency led by the artist.

By offering the transformation of artwork into a currency through the 'burning' process, the project raises a thought-provoking question: 'What holds greater value: art or money?'

Once burned, 'Ash' functions as a legitimate digital currency, incentivizing knowledge exchange and fostering cross-sector collaborations within the community. This groundbreaking approach integrates a revolutionary mindset and experimentation with digital art and value exchange. It underscores the symbiotic relationship between diverse creative modalities and recognizes their inherent value.

Sha Li’s contribution to this project cultivated a deep affinity within her for innovative and decentralized curatorial methods. Her aspiration is to incorporate curation into a networked ecosystem that encourages interconnectedness, active participation, and collective growth.

June 16th, 2020 to June 21st, 2020

Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi, SETS AND SCENARIOS ACT II, Image List: Actions to Relate to Oneself and The World, 2020.
︎ Online Public Programme
︎ Transformation
︎ Digital Play

In recent years, the development of media has dramatically transformed our experience with moving images. We find ourselves entangled in a perpetual cycle of image production and consumption, with images that haunt, invade, and shape us. Within this post-cinematic regime, our cultural identities, established subjectivities, and embodied sensibilities are continuously reshaped.

Sets and Scenarios delves into this heightened proximity to images and explores the implications of living under their influence. Originally designed to blur institutional boundaries within Nottingham Contemporary's private and public spaces, the program featured sculptural installations, sound works, videos, and live performances by artists such as Adam Christensen, Eva Gold, Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi, and Aaron Ratajczyk. The project was built around a mobile viewer, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in various atmospheric environments. At its core, Sets and Scenarios sought to experiment with the ephemeral encounter between viewers and artworks, emphasizing the dynamism of the experience in relation to its contingent nature and the collective engagement with physical space.

In response to the pandemic lockdown, Sets and Scenarios was reimagined as a digital experience as part of Nottingham Contemporary's online public programme. Each night featured different films and video works, reflecting the curatorial intent to capture the impact of moving images and to contemplate the endless feedback loops that surround us.

Lu Shan, The Great Plague 2020, screenshot from the unfinished video animation.
︎ Community-led Project
︎ Emotional Connections
︎ Digital Archive

Post from the First Lockdown is an archive of artists' responses to the initial outbreak of Covid-19 in the Hubei region, spanning from the 7th of February to the end of March 2020. Led by Gaia Fugazza, Luigi Galimberti, and Sha Li, the project served as a self-organized community blog post with the intention of igniting further discussions among the public and fostering community solidarity. Its main objective was to establish direct contact with artists in China who were creating art while under quarantine. We sought to listen to their voices in order to gain a better understanding of a story that had been narrated in numerous contradictory ways by various countries' media, with each accusing the other of cover-ups and propaganda.

Given that the artists personally witnessed the Covid-19 epidemic at a time when its origins and unprecedented impact on society were still unknown, this series of works has been organized chronologically in retrospect.

In collaboration with the MA programme at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, UK, led by Dr. Wenny Teo, the project invited her cohort to respond to each participating artist. In the following year, the project hosted an online public event at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, UK, featuring updated artists' responses and reflections as part of the Frank Davis Memorial Lecture of 2021.