Space age sculptures in Peter Hennessey survey in Australia – in pictures



A 10-year survey of Peter Hennessey’s work is on show at The University of Queensland Art Museum.

Australian architect and artist Peter Hennessey creates large-scale sculptures replicating objects that testify to humanity’s technological advances. They communicate the artist’s concern with issues of social justice and the political systems that dominate our lives.

Peter Hennessey, 'Where we are now (Navstar Block II-F satellite, USA)', 2014, plywood, ABS plastic and wax, overall 138 x 197 x 130 cm. Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2014. Photo: Andrew Curtis. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, ‘Where We Are Now (Navstar Block II-F Satellite, USA)’, 2014, plywood, ABS plastic and wax, overall 138 x 197 x 130 cm. Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2014. Photo: Andrew Curtis. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

The University of Queensland Art Museum is holding “Peter Hennessey: Making it Real” (14 March – 12 July 2015), a major survey reflecting on the past decade of the artist’s career, and featuring a number of his large-scale sculptures that replicate technological objects and machines.

Peter Hennessey, 'Parallel cartography (Glonass-K, RUS)', 2014, aluminium composite panel, 250 x 100 x 90 cm. Collection of the artist. Photo: Andrew Curtis. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, ‘Parallel Cartography (Glonass-K, RUS)’, 2014, aluminium composite panel, 250 x 100 x 90 cm. Collection of the artist. Photo: Andrew Curtis. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

With training in architecture and a background in new media, Peter Hennessey (b. 1968, Sydney) is interested in and inspired by the science of space exploration and comparable technological advances. His imposing sculptures allow viewers to encounter first hand what they would otherwise only see in reproductions or on the internet. Hennessey’s oeuvre is part of his effort to reverse the digitisation of the world by creating material, physical reproductions.

Peter Hennessey, 'My ejector seat (Upside down changes everything)', 2006, plywood, steel, calico, LD45FR foam, webbing, plastic and aluminium sculptural element, 240 x 120 x 170 cm. Private collection, Hobart. Photo: Carl Warner. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, ‘My Ejector Seat (Upside Down Changes Everything)’, 2006, plywood, steel, calico, LD45FR foam, webbing, plastic and aluminium, sculptural element, 240 x 120 x 170 cm. Private collection, Hobart. Photo: Carl Warner. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

The artist’s practice goes beyond creating mere life-size, detailed replicas; it also addresses a number of key issues that revolve around social justice and dominating political systems. As curator Samantha Littley writes in the accompanying catalogue essay, there are four key themes in Hennessey’s work:

[…] our quest for knowledge and the limits we face in pursuing it; the gulf between things we ‘see’ virtually and those that we are able to experience; and the part that communication systems play in enabling geopolitical powers and creating new corporate empires.

Peter Hennessey, 'My Lunar Rover (You had to be there)', 2005, plywood, steel, canvas and Velcro, 298 x 206 x 396 cm. Private collection, Melbourne. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, ‘My Lunar Rover (You Had to Be There)’, 2005, plywood, steel, canvas and Velcro, 298 x 206 x 396 cm. Private collection, Melbourne. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, 'My NICU', 2006, plywood, wax, silicone, plastic, dimensions variable. Installation view at University of Queensland Art Museum. Collection of the artist. Photo: Carl Warner. Image courtesy the artist and UQ Art Museum.

Peter Hennessey, ‘My NICU’, 2006, plywood, wax, silicone, plastic, dimensions variable. Installation view at University of Queensland Art Museum, “Peter Hennessey: Making it Real”, 2015. Collection of the artist. Photo: Carl Warner. Image courtesy the artist and UQ Art Museum.

From space exploration to mapping the world

The themes in the exhibition are each reflected through four bodies of work:

  • objects that consider the social, political and conceptual implications of the Space Race in historical and contemporary terms
  • artworks that emphasise technology’s fallibility and bring us face to face with mortality
  • works that capture the choreography of explosions and uncover their role in constructing our world
  • recent sculptures that examine the reach of the Global Positioning System (GPS)
Peter Hennessey, 'My Mission Control', 2005, plywood with two-channel video. Installation view at UQ Art Museum, "Peter Hennessey: Making it real", 2015. Image courtesy the artist and UQ Art Museum.

Peter Hennessey, ‘My Mission Control (The act of observation changes the object observed)’, 2005, plywood, steel and two-channel video, silent, 120.0 x 180.0 x 110.0 cm; video 5 min 24 sec. Installation view at University of Queensland Art Museum, “Peter Hennessey: Making it Real”, 2015. Private collection, Adelaide. Photo: Carl Warner. Image courtesy the artist and UQ Art Museum.

Peter Hennessey, 'My Voyager', 2004, plywood and steel, height 650 cm. Collection of the artist. Photo: Mim Stirling. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, ‘My Voyager’, 2004, plywood and steel, height 650 cm. Collection of the artist. Photo: Mim Stirling. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

The ‘space race’ works include sculptures such as My Voyager (2004), a model of the Voyager 2 probe launched by the United States government into space in 1977, still in orbit today. In an interview with Art Collector, Hennessey explains that the work looks at notions of

idealism versus pragmatism, as well as using the idea of communications with aliens to question our current treatment of the aliens in our own communities.

Part of this body of work is also My Lunar Rover (You Had to Be There) (2005), a plywood and steel replica of the moon buggy that carried the NASA astronauts around the moon during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Peter Hennessey, 'My Humvee (Inversion therapy)', 2008, plywood, automotive enamel paint, aluminium and steel, 500 x 210 x 180 cm. Collection of The University of Queensland. Gift of the Melbourne Art Fair Foundation, 2008. Photo: Carl Warner. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, ‘My Humvee (Inversion Therapy)’, 2008, plywood, automotive enamel paint, aluminium and steel, 500 x 210 x 180 cm. Collection of The University of Queensland. Gift of the Melbourne Art Fair Foundation, 2008. Photo: Carl Warner. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

During his reflections on technology’s fallibility and its relationship to ideas of mortality, Hennessey created one of his most important – and one of his favourite – works, My Humvee (Inversion Therapy) (2008). It is a recreation, a parody, of the US military carrier – the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle – which inspired its civilian spinoff, the Hummer, a huge consumer of oil which is the resource that the Humvee was sent to war zones to protect.

Peter Hennessey, 'My Burnt Frost (Explosion event III)', 2008, C-type photograph, 80 x 100 cm. Collection of the artist. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, ‘My Burnt Frost (Explosion Event III)’, 2008, C-type photograph, 80 x 100 cm. Collection of the artist. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Historically and politically charged incidents provide food for thought for the artist, who has produced works inspired by “explosion events” by re-enacting them. My Burnt Frost (Explosion Event III) (2008) references the 
US Navy’s destruction of a damaged spy satellite, USA-193 (NROL-21), said to be carrying 450 kilograms of toxic hydrazine, on 21 February 2008. In My Hell’s Gate (North of The River IV) (2010), Hennessey re-staged a miniature replica of the 1885 demolition of submerged rock in an area of the East River, New York City, known as Hells Gate.

Peter Hennessey, 'My Hell's Gate (North of the river IV)', 2010, C-type photograph, 100 x 100 cm. Collection of the artist. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, ‘My Hell’s Gate (North of The River IV)’, 2010, C-type photograph, 100 x 100 cm. Collection of the artist. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, 'Overlooked (Street View capture apparatus)', 2014, plywood and ABS plastic, 190 x 145 x 145 cm. Collection of the artist. Photo: Andrew Curtis. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, ‘Overlooked (Street View Capture Apparatus)’, 2014, plywood and ABS plastic, 190 x 145 x 145 cm. Collection of the artist. Photo: Andrew Curtis. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Recently, Hennessey has also turned to exploring the technology of GPS and its effects on people and society. With his recent series “Here Be Dragons / Hic Sunt Dracones” (2014), he comments on the pervasive reach of satellites.

The explanation (Cockpit Voice Recorder) (2014) and The Wait (Flight Data Recorder) (2014) continue with notions of mortality, technology’s reliability, as well as its ability to allow us to locate ourselves. The sculptures were created while the tragedy of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 unfolded in March 2014.

Peter Hennessey, 'The explanation (Cockpit voice recorder)', 2014, plywood, ABS plastic and wax, 17 x 34 x 20 cm. Collection of the artist. Photo: Andrew Curtis. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, ‘The Explanation (Cockpit Voice Recorder)’, 2014, plywood, ABS plastic and wax, 17 x 34 x 20 cm. Collection of the artist. Photo: Andrew Curtis. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Talking to The Sydney Morning Herald, the artist said:

The black box is almost like a talisman. It was interesting how important finding that object became – there are still people searching for it. They are potent objects. This box suggests both our feeling that we can know everything – but how that breaks down. We have these satellites, we have this imaging of streets down to the postbox level, yet we couldn’t find this thing. It’s gone into that spot of ‘here be dragons’. It reveals to me just how much we don’t know. It is just an illusion of omniscience.

Peter Hennessey, 'Where we are now (Navstar Block II-F satellite, USA)', 2014, plywood, ABS plastic and wax, overall 138 x 197 x 130 cm. Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2014. Photo: Andrew Curtis. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, ‘Where We Are Now (Navstar Block II-F Satellite, USA)’, 2014, plywood, ABS plastic and wax, overall 138 x 197 x 130 cm. Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2014. Photo: Andrew Curtis. Image courtesy the artist, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, and GAGPROJECTS/ Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide.

Peter Hennessey, 'Celestial Kingdom (BeiDou-1A Satellite, CHN)', 2014, aluminium composite panel, 152 x 111 x 6 cm. Installation view at UQ Art Museum, "Peter Hennessey: Making it real", 2015. Photo: Carl Warner. Image courtesy the artist and UQ Art Museum.

Peter Hennessey, ‘Celestial Kingdom (BeiDou-1A Satellite, CHN)’, 2014, aluminium composite panel, 152 x 111 x 6 cm. Installation view at University of Queensland Art Museum, “Peter Hennessey: Making it Real”, 2015. Collection of the artist. Photo: Carl Warner. Image courtesy the artist and UQ Art Museum.

Between images and experience

Through his sculptures, Hennessey explores “the space between images and experience” – our relationship with images and the resulting connection to issues of our modern times. In the article on Art Collector, the artist says about his work and the objects it relates to:

These are objects which are familiar but which we cannot have a physical relationship with. We cannot stand next to them – we must experience them virtually via the media, TV, print and so on – and what is lost in such a relationship? Also, each of these objects has a particular symbolism or political resonance. […] I choose objects not just because of their pure mediated and physically inaccessible existence. I choose [them] based on a perceived symbolic value that resonate to larger issues.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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When Africa meets Latin America: Saatchi Gallery’s “Pangaea II” – in pictures



African painters shine in the second installment of Saatchi Gallery’s extensive two-continent survey of emerging artists from Africa and Latin America.

“Pangaea II: New Art from Africa and Latin America” focuses on the still somewhat under-represented terrain of African and Latin American contemporary art. Art Radar spotlights exciting new names to watch in the African scene.

Armand Boua, 'Foule D'Enfants', 2014, tar and acrylic on board, 190 x 247 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Armand Boua, ‘Foule D’Enfants’, 2014, tar and acrylic on board, 190 x 247 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

“Pangaea II” is the second installment of Saatchi Gallery‘s museum-scale survey of contemporary art from Africa and Latin America. The exhibition features 19 artists from the two continents and runs until September 2015.

“Pangaea”

“Pangaea” is a 20th-century word referring to a 270-million-year-old supercontinent – a prehistoric land mass containing all of today’s continents, including the then-conjoined Africa and Latin America. Saatchi Gallery reunites the former sister continents by surveying contemporary art from the two regions, exploring “notions of cultural hybridity, identity and socio-economic conflict”, according to the press release.

Ephrem Solomon, 'The Two Sorrow Faces', 2013, woodcut and mixed media, 90 x 95 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Ephrem Solomon, ‘The Two Sorrow Faces’, 2013, woodcut and mixed media, 90 x 95 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Alexandre da Cunha, 'Nude II', 2012, linen, hats, gold thread, 200 x 135 x 15 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Alexandre da Cunha, ‘Nude II’, 2012, linen, hats, gold thread, 200 x 135 x 15 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

The exhibition is another of Charles Saatchi‘s characteristically sprawling surveys. 19 artists hail from Africa, home to 54 countries, and Latin America, home to 21. The press release states:

The two continents parallel each other in many ways yet the exhibition rejects any move toward a monolithic representation. The selection of narratives and perspectives are varied and unique.

A tenuous reunion?

As Culture Whisper observes, both African and Latin American art are receiving increasing attention in the contemporary art world, as evidenced by the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair as well as modern and contemporary Latin American art fair PINTA. However, as the same article notes,

[...] joining these two culturally remote continents is still tenuous, and grounded on the loose connection of colonialism.

Diego Mendoza Imbachi, 'Graphis – Loggia', 2014, graphite and binder on canvas, 300 x 600 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Diego Mendoza Imbachi, ‘Graphis – Loggia’, 2014, graphite and binder on canvas, 300 x 600 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Alida Cervantes, 'Horizonte En Cálma', 2011, oil on wood panel, 152.4 x 213.4 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Alida Cervantes, ‘Horizonte En Cálma’, 2011, oil on wood panel, 152.4 x 213.4 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Nevertheless, the mega survey works because of its scope and inclusivity. Featuring sculpture, painting, installation and photography, “Pangaea II” showcases diverse cultural influences and thriving creativity. The artists employ a hybrid of traditional and contemporary techniques and materials, displaying an exciting range of styles and motifs. According to the press release:

Witnesses to the transformation of their societies, the artists working in these two distinctive regions are increasingly based within cities that are changing at an unprecedented rate. Their work [...] reflect[s] on social and political issues faced during this period of rapid urban and economic expansion.

African painters shine

In addition to outstanding works from Latin America – including, amongst others, Jean-François Boclé’s headlining installation of plastic bags and Jorge Mayet‘s exquisite photorealistic sculptures of minuscule uprooted trees – “Pangaea II” especially spotlights high quality work by African artists. Meredith Etherington-Smith at Christie’s Art Digest is of the opinion that in “Pangaea II”,

the Africans win hands down in terms of intensity and originality [...]

Aboudia, 'Untitled Tete', 2014, acrylic and crayon on canvas, 200 x 125 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Aboudia, ‘Untitled Tete’, 2014, acrylic and crayon on canvas, 200 x 125 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Rising star Aboudia (b. 1983, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire), for example, is attracting increasing critical acclaim for his vast, spirited, complex paintings. He collages photographs, street graphics, “Basquiat-like faces and Abstract Expressionist graffiti trails” to create magnificently immersive canvases that immediately enchant the viewer. Aboudia’s 1:54 artist profile describes his work as

claustrophobic and oppressive yet brutally energetic [...] straddl[ing] an uneasy line between pathos and aggression.

Dawit Abebe, 'No.2 Background 1', 2014, mixed media painting, 150 x 130 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Dawit Abebe, ‘No.2 Background 1′, 2014, mixed media painting, 150 x 130 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Dawit Abebe (b. 1978, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) paints sombre, earth-toned figures and silhouettes that Culture Whisper compares to Picasso’s nudes; Artlyst on the other hand describes his style as “familiar to painting post-Bacon, and Freud [...] with a surreal finish”.

Boris Nzebo, 'Untitled', 2013, acrylic on canvas, 150 x 600 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Boris Nzebo, ‘Untitled’, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 150 x 600 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Meanwhile, Boris Nzebo (b. 1979, Port-Gentil, Gabon) employs a flamboyant palette on multi-layered canvases , weaving colourful silhouettes into kaleidoscopic architectural backgrounds. According to the exhibition press release, Nzebo’s art began as “graphic illustrations to attract customers to his brother’s barbershop”, but has now become

an interesting narrative for idealised female beauty, depicting glamorous models in an emerging materialistic society [...]

Ibrahim Mahama, 'Untitled', 2013, draped jute sacks wall installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Saatchi Gallery, London.

Ibrahim Mahama, ‘Untitled’, 2013, draped jute sacks wall installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Saatchi Gallery, London.

Potent young talent

Two more exciting names to watch in the African scene are young artists Ibrahim Mahama (b. 1987, Tamale, Ghana), who was also featured in “Pangaea I” last spring, and Eddy Ilunga Kamuanga (b. 1991, Kinshasa, Congo). Mahama is known for his choice of canvas – the humble, roughly woven coal sack – with which he produces spectacular, majestic outdoor installations as well as mountable canvases. According to his Saatchi artist profile, Mahama’s works

are the result of his investigation of the conditions of supply and demand in African markets.

Eddy Ilunga Kamuanga, 'Voile', 2014, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 100 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Eddy Ilunga Kamuanga, ‘Voile’, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 100 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Meanwhile, the even younger Kamuanga creates bright and textured works that are “traditionally aesthetic yet also draw on contemporary advertising and photography, creating an African art representative of the ambitious and socially engaged youth”, according to the exhibition press release. Kamuanga recently set up an artist collective; his Saatchi artist profile says that his

persevering vision is characteristic of the vibrant intellectual community that continues to flourish in Central Africa.

Michele Chan

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4 Iraqi photographers to know



Iraqi photographers portray life in a country plagued by political instability.

From the founding father of Iraqi photography to the latest generation of artists, Art Radar profiles 4 contemporary photographers that are engaging with the socio-political landscape of Iraq and struggling to uncover hidden truths.

Latif Al Ani, 'Mirjan Mosque', 1960, black-and-white digital print on Hahnemühle Baryta fine art paper, 25 x 25 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Arab Image Foundation (AIF).

Latif Al Ani, ‘Mirjan Mosque’, 1960, black-and-white digital print on Hahnemühle Baryta fine art paper, 25 x 25 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Arab Image Foundation (AIF).

Latif Al-Ani

Latif Al-Ani (b. 1932, Karbala, Iraq) is considered the founding father of Iraqi photography, and started his career as a photographer for the Iraq Petroleum Company, whose surviving associated companies still own his work produced prior to 1958. In 1960, he established the photography department in Iraq’s Ministry of Information, where he also ran the official news agency.

Al-Ani’s extensive documentary career spans from the late 1950s to the late 1970s, a period during which he produced most of his substantial oeuvre. After that time, with the Saddam regime and the Iran-Iraq War, it became impossible to photograph in public due to the increasingly authoritarian atmosphere.

Latif Al Ani, 'Mirjan Mosque', 1960, black and white digital print on Hahnemühle Baryta Fine Art paper, 25 x 25 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Arab Image Foundation (AIF).

Latif Al Ani, ‘Mirjan Mosque’, 1960, black and white digital print on Hahnemühle Baryta Fine Art paper, 25 x 25 cm. Image courtesy the artist and the Arab Image Foundation (AIF).

Al-Ani’s practice incorporates both themes of modernising and ancient traditions in Iraq, documenting the changing landscape and the unique socio-cultural environment of Iraq that have now virtually disappeared. He was also interested in the interactions and relationships between archaeology and modern life, and the intersections that architecture made with the two. Some of his most poignant images are part of his series on everyday life in Baghdad in the 1960s, testifying to the modern beauty of the monuments and infrastructure in a city that was one of the first in the region to become developed.

In 2000, Yto Barrada organised a project entitled “Collections from Iraq” for the Arab Image Foundation (FAI), which managed to encourage Al-Ani to contribute his work to the Foundation’s Collection. Al-Ani has also been selected as one among the five artists to be featured in the Iraq Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, commissioned by the Ruya Foundation.

Akam Shex Hadi, Untitled, 2014-2015, black-and-white digital print on Innova-Baryth Smoothgloss paper, 30 x 45 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Akam Shex Hadi, ‘Untitled’, 2014-2015, black-and-white digital print on Innova-Baryth Smoothgloss paper, 30 x 45 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Akam Shex Hadi

Coming from Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan, Akam Shex Hadi (b. 1985) represents the new generation of Iraqi photographers. His staged, symbolic work retains a strong documentary element, which engages with the political landscape and issues of migration and displacement.

Akam Shex Hadi, Untitled, 2014-15, black and white digital print on Innova-Baryth Smoothgloss paper, 30 x 45 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Akam Shex Hadi, ‘Untitled’, 2014-15, black and white digital print on Innova-Baryth Smoothgloss paper, 30 x 45 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Featured alongside Al-Ani in the Iraq Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, Hadi will present a series of 28 photographs that directly deal with Isis and the fate of Iraqi refugees and displaced people. The project involved working within and photographing four different refugee communities from across Iraq, including Yazidis, Kobanis, Christians and Kakais. In the series, a recurrent motif is the Isis flag, depicted as an unwinding thread resembling a snake, as a continuous reminder of its ensnaring qualities.

Shex Hadi has participated in several festivals across Asia and the Middle East, and has also won awards for his work, including the T.A.W. Larsa Prize for Creative Photographers.

DO NOT REUSE | Jamal Penjweny, 'Without Soul', 2011. Image courtesy the artist, Ikon Gallery and RUYA Foundation.

Jamal Penjweny, ‘Without Soul’, 2011. Image courtesy the artist, Ikon Gallery and RUYA Foundation.

Jamal Penjweny

Jamal Penjweny (b. 1981, Sulaimaniya, Iraqi Kurdistan) is an Iraqi-Kurdish artist, photographer and filmmaker, who started his career in Iraqi Kurdistan as a sculptor and painter. Later, in 2004, while he was based in Baghdad, he contributed images of the Iraqi conflict to publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic and The World Press Photo Magazine.

Penjweny has, in recent years, shifted from photojournalism to dedicate himself solely to his artistic practice. He explains his frustration with the media’s focus on Iraq that “has been largely negative and focused on Iraq as a war country”. His aim is to show the other side of Iraq – the life and future of his country – by bringing to the fore human stories of contemporary life.

DO NOT REUSE | Jamal Penjweny, 'Saddam is Here', 2009-10. Image courtesy the artist, Ikon Gallery and RUYA Foundation.

Jamal Penjweny, ‘Saddam is Here’, 2009-10. Image courtesy the artist, Ikon Gallery and RUYA Foundation.

While in 2015 Penjweny will be part of the Iran Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, in 2013 he was selected to be a part of the Iraq Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, where he presented “Saddam is Here” (2009–2010).

The photographic series – also presented in his first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham – portrays Iraqi people in familiar, everyday surroundings, each holding a life-size picture of Saddam Hussein’s face in front of their own. Saddam’s portrait obscures any emotion, making identification and individuality impossible.

Penjweny’s portraits of Iraqi life reflect his belief that the country is still facing a difficult journey ahead, and according to the artist, the ‘shadow’ of Saddam will always remain in Iraqi society – whether loved or feared.

Halim Al Karim, 'Schizophrenia 7', 1987, photograph, edition of 3 + 2AP. Image courtesy the artist and AB Gallery.

Halim Al Karim, ‘Schizophrenia 7′, 1987, photograph, edition of 3 + 2AP. Image courtesy the artist and AB Gallery.

Halim al Karim

US-based Halim al Karim (b. 1963, Najaf, Iraq) approaches photography as a way to understand his past: what happened to him and his own country. In 1991, he was forced to flee Iraq for political reasons, and ever since he has attempted to portray another representation of the truth.

Al Karim firmly believes that self-discovery occurs through suffering, after spending a period in hiding, having lost four brothers and a sister to violence, as well as witnessing the fragility of life in Iraq today. As a result, he decided to turn away from the brutality of reality and take refuge in the shelter of the realm of thoughts and dreams, to better understand his own being and the contemporary world.

Al Karim’s subjects hide behind a silk veil or are out of focus. In this way, the artist conceals visions of reality and opens up for disparate ways of interpreting, viewing, understanding and imagining what lies behind his artwork.

Halim Al Karim, 'Hidden Goddess 7', 2009, Lambda print covered with black silk, 140 x 100 cm. Image courtesy the artist and AB Gallery.

Halim Al Karim, ‘Hidden Goddess 7′, 2009, Lambda print covered with black silk, 140 x 100 cm. Image courtesy the artist and AB Gallery.

Al Karim believes that photography (PDF download)

[…] retains anchors of our visual reality and can be manipulated to show alteredstates of mind. Compositionally out of focus, sometimes rendered more mysterious under a veil of silk, my photographs imply an uncertainty of context, time and place, embodying the past, present and future simultaneously.

The concept behind his work is “the future mentality of urban society”, dealing with its ongoing and unresolved issues, while researching society’s memory and his own personal experience. Playing with concealment, Al Karim aims to create visions of an urban society devoid of violence. He ultimately sustains that:

The politic[s] of deceit [have] transformed me and the camera [in]to a truth-seeking device.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

694

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Contemporary art in Siberia: Art Radar guide



Make the most of your next visit to Siberia with the latest Art Radar guide. 

Siberia is a vast land that is home to only a third of Russia’s population. The word ‘Siberia’ comes from the Tatar word for ‘sleeping land’. However, this is far from the truth, especially when it comes to the region’s thriving art scene. We bring you a guide highlighting art galleries in some of the larger Siberian cities.

Blue Noses, 'Era of Mercy', 2005, photograph. Image courtesy Art in Russia, A Project of the School of Russian and Asian Studies, SRAS.

Blue Noses, ‘Era of Mercy’, 2005, photograph. Image courtesy Art in Russia, A Project of the School of Russian and Asian Studies, SRAS.

Siberia’s inhabitants were creating art as far back as 5000 years ago, as can be seen from engravings recently discovered in a makeshift ancient gallery on the 4506-metre high Altai Mountains at the border between China and Mongolia. Contemporary Siberian art is often influenced by the ancient cultures of the Siberian nations.

Contemporary art in Siberia is viewed as “a powerful accelerator to the mind, enriching and speeding it up”, according to Anna Tereshkova, the Director of the Siberian Centre of Contemporary Art in Novosibirsk. Tereshkova also added that for Russia, art is “the frontman for Russian culture and its leading voice”, despite the Siberian government regarding “contemporary artists with quite a suspicion”.

Visiting Siberia: the basics

When to visit

In the winter, the weather is -25°C on average, but with lows of -60°C in some locations. The locals tend to wrap up warm in fur coats, fur hats and leather boots. The houses stand raised on top of concrete blocks in order to avoid the foundation freezing over in the permafrost. However, heating is state funded so museums and galleries will be warm on the inside – if you can manage to walk to them. Summers are much milder, with an average temperature of +17°C.

There is very little inhabited land in Siberia, most of it taken up by the taiga, the boreal forest. Sakha (Yakutia) is the coldest region in the whole of Siberia, so it is definitely best to explore Yakutian art in the middle of the summer.

Where to stay

There are 1,081 hotels in Siberia. Finding lodgings should not be a problem, although the services and standard of rooms will vary, and will not always be up to the international luxurious benchmark. The Lonely Planet guide provides reviews of Siberian hotels.

Siberia’s best hotel is based in Siberia’s largest city. It is the Marriot Hotel in Novosibirsk, which opened in 2014 in the city centre, a short walk from the Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Hostels are also advertised on the Lonely Planet guide, for those looking for a cheaper option, with prices starting at GBP18 per night. However, if safety is your priority, it might be best to stick to large chain hotels with security and safe boxes in the hotel rooms.

Another option is to stay with a host family. People in cities live in large blocks of flats. Remote villages still contain old style wooden houses, where people spend their days fishing and nights reading, telling stories and drinking vodka. Specialised websites are available online for staying with hosts in city flats. If you want to try the traditional way of living, you might be advised to befriend the locals, and ask around.

Getting around

The Trans-Siberian train covers most major cities in Siberia. The price is USD80 for second class from Moscow to Novosibirsk (this takes 2 days). A cab from an airport to a city would set you back about USD20. To fly into Novosibirsk from Moscow costs USD100 one way.

Every Siberian city has public buses, trolleybuses, minibuses and sometimes even the metro. A trip on public transport is likely to set you back roughly USD2.

Rodina exhibition, May-June 2012, installation view. Image courtesy SCCA.

Rodina exhibition, May-June 2012, installation view. Image courtesy SCCA.

Where to see contemporary art in Siberia

Siberian Centre of Contemporary Art (SCCA) | Novosibirsk

The Siberian Centre of Contemporary Art (SCCA) opened in 2011. The exhibitions and art events are funded by the Foundation for the Support of Contemporary Art. The Centre shows off the best of the Siberian art elite, in addition to educating the Siberian public about international art.

The gallery was first created by Anna Tereshkova, who used to be the director of the Old Town gallery (the first Novosibirsk art gallery). The inspiration to create a new gallery came due to Anna wanting to show contemporary art separately. She wanted to help to promote exciting new groups like Blue Noses, who whilst being recognised and appreciated worldwide, were completely unknown in their motherland, Siberia.

The Centre puts on a variety of events. For instance, in 2012, it organised the Land-Art Festival, which involved artists creating works on the banks of the scenic Novosibirsk Reservoir.

Andrey Chikachev's painting. Image courtesy eYakutia.

Andrey Chikachev’s painting. Image courtesy eYakutia.

National Arts Museum of The Republic of Sakha | Yakutsk

The National Arts Museum of The Republic of Sakha is predominantly a classical Russian art museum, with a collection of paintings by Levitan, Polenov, Tropinin, Shishkin and Aivazovsky, amongst others, while the second floor plays host to exciting modern art exhibitions. The Museum also holds artworks of the ancient Yakut culture. The large classical building with a calm atmosphere lends itself well to large scale events such as the International Night at the Museum.

The Night at the Museum 2014 involved opera and Russian poetry performances, as well as piano recitals in the grand museum surroundings. Also, in 2014, the museum introduced an interactive element to the exhibitions, whereupon the second floor exhibition paintings were transformed by holding a tablet in front of them.

Between September and November 2014, the museum took part in the 3rd Biennale of Contemporary Art of Yakutsk (BY14), along with the Yakutsk Ministry of Culture, Urgel Art Gallery and the Arctic State Institute of Art and Culture, among others. International artists were hosted in various art spaces in Yakutsk. The aim of this themed event was for local and internationally acclaimed artists to work together and to exchange artistic viewpoints. The main theme was water, which makes sense in a region containing the Lena river, the ninth largest river in the world.

Famous artists who have had their work exhibited at this museum are Andrey Chikachev and Mikhail Starostin. Chikachev’s expressive paintings focus on the daily happenings in the lives of Yakutian villagers. Starostin’s work creates light-hearted impressions of Yakutian life; his pieces are modern with a hint of tradition.

Dashi Namdakov, 'Tiger and Bird', lapis Lazuli and bronze, 97 x 141 x 62 cm. Image courtesy Halcyon Gallery.

Dashi Namdakov, ‘Tiger and Bird’, lapis Lazuli and bronze, 97 x 141 x 62 cm. Image courtesy Halcyon Gallery.

Buryatia Republic Art Museum | Ulan-Ude

The Buryatia Republic Art Museum is one of the most famous museums of Eastern Siberia. It was opened in 1944 and holds a variety of paintings from the classics to the modernists. The museum contains around 10,000 pieces of art, such as paintings, sculpture, jewellery, decorative arts and graphics. The directors of the museum are very keen to promote modern Buryatian artists by guided tours for visitors, talks and film screenings. Buryatian artists who have exhibited here include well-known masters, such as Zoritko Dorzhiev and Dashi Namdakov.

Zoritko Dorzhiev presented his solo show called “A Year in the Life of a Painter” at this museum in 2010. Dorzhiev is one of Russia’s most famous artists. His work uses bright colours to bring humour to Buryat life. His main focus is on the nomadic lifestyle of warriors on horseback and the Buryat villagers. He has also worked in film, designing sets and headdresses for films about Mongols and Buryats.

Dashi Namdakov is a sculptor, painter and jeweller. Buddhism has had a large effect on his approach to art. One of Namdakov’s most famous pieces is a large stone wall decoration, which the sculptor carved in memory of a Buddhist monastery. This piece has traditional images of totem animals, horse riders, magical women and nomads carved onto it. Namdakov uses bronze, silver, gold, iron, jewels, mammoth bone, horsehair and wood to make sculptures, jewellery, graphic images and goblins based on traditional Central Asian and Buddhist motifs.

Olga Kamenkaya, photograph from her book 'Baikal. The Kingdom of Water and Ice'. Image courtesy the artist.

Olga Kamenkaya, photograph from her book ‘Baikal. The Kingdom of Water and Ice’. Image courtesy the artist.

Gallery DiaS | Irkutsk

Gallery DiaS was created in 2009 by Diana Salatskaya. It holds over 2000 pieces of art. The collection comprises art from all over Siberia. In 2011, the gallery took part in the international project called “Person and the City”, dedicated to 350 years of the city of Irkutsk. The gallery owners helped to organise a large conference about the art and culture of Siberia.

Diana Salatskaya is not only the director of the gallery but also a benefactor – she has organised a variety of stipends to support popular artists. The gallery is also interested in collaboration, and has previously worked with the Siberian Ministry of Culture, Irkutsk Archives, the Irkutsk Art Union, and with various Siberian and Russian galleries and art schools. In 2011, the gallery played host to a fantastic exhibition by Olga Kamenkaya. Her underwater images showed an unusual way of thinking and seeing Lake Baikal.

Elizabeth Kaplunov

696

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From recording evidence to becoming an artist in Korea: interview with Che Onejoon



The artist speaks to Art Radar about exposing the layers in Korea’s socio-political issues.

One of the artists exhibiting at the New Museum Triennial “Surround Audience” in New York, Che Onejoon (b.1979) observes the Korean society from a different perspective. He chooses subjects that reflect on understanding past and present political, social and economic situations in Korea. Art Radar spoke to the artist about his journey so far.

Che Onejoon. Image courtesy the artist.

Che Onejoon. Image courtesy the artist.

Che is best known for the short film Spinning Wheel (2011), the photography series “Texas Project” (2004-2007) and “Town house” (2006-2010), and his ongoing project “Mansudae Master Class” (began in 2012).

Che’s work has been shown at the Atelier Hèrmes and PLATEAU in Seoul, Korea, Palais de Tokyo, and Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. In 2014, his work was shown at the Korean Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale as well as at the 8th SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul. His work is currently on show at the New Museum in New York for the 2015 Triennial: “Surround Audience”.

For Che, observation, research and perseverance are the main elements in implementing his art projects. Art Radar met Che at the ARKO Art Center (Arts Council Korea) in Hyehwa-dong, Seoul.

Che Onejoon, 'KCIA (the Korean Central Intelligence Agency) Series', 2012, Auditorium, Uireung (Royal Shrine), Inkjet Print, 72 x 96 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Che Onejoon, ‘KCIA (the Korean Central Intelligence Agency) Series’, 2012,
Auditorium, Uireung (Royal Shrine), inkjet print, 72 x 96 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

The short film Spinning Wheel (2011) - although it only provides a subjective glimpse into the socio-political history and environment of Korea – provokes the attention of the viewer. What, in your opinion, is important in choosing appropriate subjects to explore in an artwork?

I am concerned with quality and not quantity. In my opinion, the content of anything is going to be the core of whatever one pursues in life. Therefore, choosing the appropriate subject matter truly determines what an artist wants to talk about. In other words, the subject sets the direction in which the artist has decided to build his or her art career.

For me, it has been socio-political issues. I am interested in analysing the socio-political state of Korea by conducting research on specific sites of Korea. With Spinning Wheel (2011), I touched upon a subject that addresses many different socio-political issues within Korea. Just studying this location alone enables a person to understand different transitions in Korean society from the turn of the 20th century until today.

Originally the area ‘Mullae’ (literally means spinning wheel in Korean) was an active textile production district during the Japanese colonial period. Then in the 1970s and 1980s, it transformed into a steel production district under President Park Chunghee’s military regime. In those days, anything could be made with steel in the Mullae district. One only needed to put in an order and it could be made easily. The labourers there made almost everything, from guns to military equipment and more.

Today, there are some surviving steel industries in the area co-existing together with artists’ studios. There are multi-layers of socio-political issues implied with this single site alone and I am interested in exposing such layers. Looking back on the project, I think that more work can be done as there are many more subjects that can still be addressed.

Che Onejoon, 'Townhouse series', 2010, Archive of Camp Giant, Mixed Medium, Acrylic box on Table, 80 x 110 x 110 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Che Onejoon, ‘Townhouse Series’, 2010, Archive of Camp Giant, mixed medium, acrylic box on table, 80 x 110 x 110 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

The projects that you have worked on until now are documentations on specific locations and circumstances. How did you begin your career as an artist? What is your viewpoint on art education in Korea?

I agree with artist’s Park Chan-Kyong’s viewpoint that “art cannot be taught”. From a young age, I was creative. I have always been interested in art and music. In my high school days, I played the saxophone and I was good at it. I no longer play but in those days I was good. I think maybe someday I would like to learn to play the clarinet.

With art – I learnt it myself. I did not receive proper training as an artist. Instead, I worked as an evidence photographer with the Korean combat police. As stated in the title “evidence photographer”, you can understand that I was the person who made sure that records of different incidents were documented for proof. I worked closely with the police as I needed to be at all sites for recording accidents, events and more.

Photography was an art genre that I could approach easily due to my background. However, it took me a long time to break away from the habit of simply recording things. At first it was a traumatic experience to break away from simply recording in order to do something more creative. In my work, my background training is quite evident.

I studied alone, reading and researching theories introduced by Susan Sontag and others. Basically I sought things that interested me and I conducted research on them. I wanted to release myself from my training as an evidence photographer so that I could take my own pictures. I think with art, it is crucial to develop an individual identity, and once this is achieved then perhaps one is able to address issues related to one’s own culture. In my opinion contemporary art is a genre that cannot be universal and perhaps it should remain that way. It is only for a set audience therefore it does not have to be easy.

Contemporary art should be intellectual: namely, a genre that addresses different serious subject matters. When people are young, they are not afraid to be experimental and because of that interesting art is created. However, once artists grow older, they tend to play safe and remain in a realm where they continue to make the same things repeatedly instead of showing something new and interesting. At times this phenomenon takes place because the artist is only interested in attracting the attention of the public or they are concerned about selling the work. Again, I would like to emphasise the fact that contemporary art needs to be intellectual, addressing subjects that are quite crucial in changing our societal and life. Today there are too many artists but not enough special ones. I would like to see more brave artists who are not afraid to speak their own voice.

Based on your previous films and photographic series, what in your opinion is lacking in the Korean society today?

With the short film Spinning Wheel (2011), my initial interest was on “heroism”. When I say “heroism”, I mean the need to create a hero figure in our society. Not simply as a monumental statue but as a human icon. Since making this film, I have thought a lot about the subject and I continued my research during my residency programme at Palais de Tokyo. Then I came across an article on the North Korean Mansudae masters building something in Senegal.

At the time, I was curious about the entire African connection with North Korea. I was provoked by the article on the African Renaissance Monument built on a hill overlooking the capital city of Dakar in 2010. So I began my research on the Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies.

Before travelling to France to do my residency at the Palais de Tokyo, I did not think seriously about addressing Korean socio-political situations from a different perspective. However, being there and having the support of both Palais de Tokyo and later Musée du Quai Branly, I began to realise that the ongoing Cold War in the Korean Peninsula could be seen from a new geopolitical perspective.

I think that this is something that is lacking in the Korean society. The Koreans are still somehow too caught up in overcoming the Japanese colonisation. Many have given up on thinking beyond that or they have become too stagnant for seeking out a new understanding of themselves.

How did you seek to realise your curiosity on the Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies?

Around 2012, I truly had no money to implement the project. I simply was interested in the subject matter and I began my research. I tried to look for materials on the subject but there were hardly any (no images). I wanted to travel to Africa but the cost was beyond my capability. Not only that, official permits were required to enter into sub-Saharan countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and others. So while in France, I applied for grants, and since the French government had a better connection with Africa it was easier for me to implement the project from France than from Korea.

In 2013, I was able to travel to Africa with a French grant. This was the first time that I went there. Some areas were quite dangerous and permits were required to even visit the locations with the Mansudae-built statues. For me, it was important to collect as much information as possible: namely archived materials, photographs, documented films and so on. This particular trip was the initial introduction to my current ongoing Mansudae Master Class project.

Che Onejoon, African Renaissance, 2010, Dakar, Senegal. Image courtesy the artist.

Che Onejoon, ‘African Renaissance’, 2010, Dakar, Senegal. Image courtesy the artist.

Through the Mansudae Master Class project, have you learnt to see the Korean socio-political situation from another perspective? What have you discovered by working on the project?

The Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies was initially an attempt to spread the North Korean Chairman Kim Ilsung’s Juche Ideology – his ideology on identity (his own belief). One would think that the project would have been conducted to at least boost the economy of the country but it was more about the emphasis on the leader’s ideology, and I discovered that until the year 2000, the Mansudae Art Studio worked without payment. Only later the projects were paid.

Furthermore, a competition on such overseas projects between North and South Korea was also ignited. Both Koreas were initiating construction projects in Africa. This concerned the annual voting between the delegates of North Korea and the United Nations supported South Korea. Votes were won by the number of projects secured by either North or South Korea.

Ironic though reality may seem, in my opinion the disheveled political situation in Africa reflects the Korean situation. I think that they are no different. The Mansudae Master Class attempts to expose this. Although on the surface South Korea today appears like a developed country, we are still overcoming the Cold War situation while being fixed with ideologies established by the Japanese colonisation and the American intervention.

South Korea still has the remains of the military regime both inside and outside with an incomplete progression to modernity. Therefore, my project is crucial in giving new insight into our own problems.

Che Onejoon, Hero’s Acre, built in 2002, Windhoek, Namibia. Image courtesy the artist.

Che Onejoon, ‘Hero’s Acre’, built in 2002, Windhoek, Namibia. Image courtesy the artist.

Che Onejoon, Monument de l' Independence, 2013, 60 x 86 cm, Dakar, Senegal. Image courtesy the artist.

Che Onejoon, ‘Monument de l’Independence’, 2013, 60 x 86 cm, Dakar, Senegal. Image courtesy the artist.

Do you plan to continue with the Mansudae Master Class Project? What are your plans for 2015?

For the past three years I travelled to sub-Saharan Africa to document North Korean built-monuments in Gabon, Namibia, Ethiopia, Senegal, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. My interest lies in exploring the ongoing Cold War of the Korean peninsula from a new geopolitical perspective. The Mansudae Master Class is a culminated study on cultural diplomacy, military alliance, translated forms of socialist realism, and images of utopia. The most recent development on the project has been shown at the 2015 Triennial: “Surround Audience” at the New Museum in New York.

I have plans to exhibit my work at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark this June followed by another exhibition in Tel Aviv, Israel and also in London.

Hyeyoung Cho

691

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British Council UAE brings technology to grassroots art movements



British Council UAE’s inaugural Culture Shift Lab in Dubai announced two winning projects for 2015, both of which give a voice to grassroots artists.

Held for the first time in Dubai, the regional innovation development programme explores how technology can be used to benefit the UAE cultural sector. Art Radar takes a look at this year’s two winning ideas.

Culture Shift Brazil: Gambiarra Tech - Creativity and Technology combine to meet Rio’s everyday problems. Image courtesy the British Council.

Culture Shift Brazil: Gambiarra Tech – Creativity and Technology combine to meet Rio’s everyday problems. Image courtesy the British Council.

Connecting technology to culture

Hosted by the British Council, Culture Shift is a global innovation development programme that has branches in different regions around the world, including Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Lagos, Brazil, Egypt and Russia. Its website states that it aims to

[bring] together creative people to come up with new ideas and solutions to some of the challenges faced within the cultural sector.

During the programmes, tech geeks collaborate with members of the creative and cultural sectors to engage in ‘hacks’, after which the participants pitch a finished prototype to a panel of judges. Outstanding ideas are granted funds as well as incubation support.

Culture Shift in Dubai

Culture Shift hosted its first Dubai lab from 26 to 28 March 2015 for UAE-based designers, artists and developers.

The two winning ideas were announced last week. Both designs focused on supporting small scale and grassroots arts and cultural activities within the region. They include:

  • Culturescape, a listings website that spotlights small art events in Dubai, giving them exposure to a wider audience
  • Creative Dubai, an online brand that gives a voice to grassroots artists in the UAE through a website and social media

According to Arabian Business, both teams will be rewarded with the opportunity to further develop their work. They will receive access to the British Council’s international, regional and local contacts, and the opportunity to take part as delegates or speakers in the British Council’s international programme.

On the same website, Culturescape stated:

Hopefully within one month our website (www.culturescape.co) will be live!

Technology gives a voice to grassroots artists

Creative Dubai was developed by artist Wael Hattar, digital media and advertising entrepreneur Mel Songoo, Alex Teodoresco, Co-founder of Street Nights, and Hetal Pawani, Founder of thejamjar and Artinthecity. Meanwhile, Culturescape was developed by Hussam Mohsineh, a software engineer, and Mehrad Yaghma.

Mohsineh described his experience to Arabian Business:

This British Council Culture Shift Lab was a great opportunity to bring technology to arts and culture – we haven’t been involved in anything like this before. [...] There is currently such limited exposure for smaller art events in the UAE but we’ve identified that it’s a growing industry and our website will enable all cultural events – whether small or established – to be listed for free in one place, which will benefit the artists and art enthusiasts in Dubai.

Alex Teodoresco from Creative Dubai added:

[...] it is difficult for smaller organisations in the art world to be heard and [...] we need to educate, inspire and create awareness. Dubai has a strong grassroots movement that we can give a voice to.

Michele Chan

692

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Digital art fabrication with K11 in Hong Kong



K11 presents “ART.FAB.LAB”, an exhibition-slash-art-laboratory introducing digital fabrication to Hong Kong audiences for the first time.

Ongoing until 17 May 2015, K11 presents Hong Kong’s very first digital fabrication lab together with an exhibition featuring 10 fabrication artists from around the world. 

K11 Art Mall presents "ART.FAB.LAB", co-organized with Dimension+, from 14 March to 17 May 2015. Image courtesy K11.

K11 Art Mall presents “ART.FAB.LAB”, co-organised with Dimension+, from 14 March to 17 May 2015. Image courtesy K11.

“ART.FAB.LAB”

“ART.FAB.LAB 藝術.製造所” is K11‘s latest venture: a digital fabrication laboratory running alongside an art exhibition. Co-organised by new media creative studio Dimension+, the two-month long event features the work of 10 international fabrication artists alongside an experiential laboratory. In addition, K11 is hosting a programme of interactive workshops, seminars, and Artist-in-LAB sessions.

The event was launched on 14 March and runs until 17 May 2015 at K11 Art Mall in Tsim Sha Tsui. The exhibition component features 10 artists hailing from Hong Kong, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Austria, Korea and Taiwan, while the lab component invites viewers to try their hand at high-tech tools and machines.

Wong Tin Yan, 'TOTEM', 2015. Image courtesy the artist and K11.

Wong Tin Yan, ‘TOTEM’, 2015. Image courtesy the artist and K11.

Installation/lab view of "ART.FAB.LAB" at K11 Art Mall. Image courtesy K11.

Installation/lab view of “ART.FAB.LAB” at K11 Art Mall. Image courtesy K11.

The website emphasises the programme’s experiential nature: the laboratory is not simply a separate element that accompanies the exhibition. Instead,

[f]rom [the] hardware of digital fabrication, [to] the space [...] [to] the [art-making] process [during] Artist-in-LAB [sessions] [...] these all are part of the exhibit [...] it’s an experience [...] brought by the age of digital fabrication.

What is digital art fabrication?

In essence, art fabrication involves digital art production processes that utilise specialised technology. Common examples are 3D printing and laser cutting. K11′s press release declares that digital art fabrication is

not a trend of art [...] it is, itself, a form of art.

Advanced technology 3D printing at "ART.FAB.LAB". The press release states that products can now be created directly without the use of a mold. Image courtesy K11.

Advanced technology 3D printing at “ART.FAB.LAB”. The press release states that products can now be created directly without the use of a mold. Image courtesy K11.

Advanced technology 3D printing at "ART.FAB.LAB". The press release states that products can now be created directly without the use of a mold. Image courtesy K11.

Advanced technology 3D printing at “ART.FAB.LAB”. The press release states that products can now be created directly without the use of a mold. Image courtesy K11.

Rebecca Woo, Mall-in-Charge of K11 Art Mall, says in the press release that “ART.FAB.LAB” presents a dynamic, up-to-date and comprehensive picture of digital fabrication – one that goes beyond 3D printing and laser cutting. The technology is divided into four categories:

  • Digital Sculpture
  • Big Data Physicalisation
  • Interactive Fabrication
  • Wearable Fabrication

Unleashing local creativity 

“ART.FAB.LAB” marks the first time that a laboratory is brought together with an exhibition in Hong Kong. Seminars and workshops, held daily and weekly, allow the public to not only learn about art fabrication but to unleash their creativity and create locally-born artworks.

Face Code Workshop at "ART.FAB.LAB". Image courtesy K11.

Face Code Workshop at “ART.FAB.LAB”. Image courtesy K11.

Laser Cutter at "ART.FAB.LAB". Image courtesy K11.

Laser Cutter at “ART.FAB.LAB”. Image courtesy K11.

The slogan of the event is “You Can Make (almost) Anything!”. Keith Lam, Co-organiser of the exhibition, explains in the press release:

“You Can Make (almost) Anything!” [...] is a quote from Professor Neil Gershenfeld of MIT, who talked about the Fab Lab plan – a low cost laboratory for people to make object[s] with digital and analog tools [...] We appreciate the support from K11 in organising the first digital fabrication exhibition plus laboratory.

About K11 Art Mall 

K11 Art Mall brands itself as “the world’s first art mall”, integrating elements of art, people, and nature. K11 Founder and Chairman Adrian Cheng, a renowned and avid art enthusiast, reportedly spent HKD20 million to install numerous art pieces on each floor of the shopping mall. The works are mostly created by local artists and take the form of benches, ceiling ornaments, wall decorations and giant sculptures. The venue also has 19 exhibition panels, and exhibits change every three months.

Hong Kong artist Eddy Hui with his piece entitled '12FPS', 2015. Image courtesy the artist and K11.

Hong Kong artist Eddy Hui with his piece entitled ’12FPS’, 2015. Image courtesy the artist and K11.

The press release states that the mall exists to foster the development of local art:

K11 [...] allows the public to appreciate different local artworks and performance[s] during shopping and leisure [...] This can help enhance the communication [...] between local artists and the public, nurture habits of art appreciation, and allow young artists to have more opportunities for showcasing their works so as to foster the development of local art.

Michele Chan

695

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