Curator David Elliott on international contemporary art in the UK – interview



How does art from 22 countries come together in a single show?

“Art from Elsewhere: International Contemporary Art from UK Galleries”, the Hayward Touring exhibition with support from the Art Fund, brings together works that “depict different realities of profound global change”. Art Radar spoke to the exhibition’s curator David Elliott to find out more.

Installation view of "Art from Elsewhere. International Contemporary Art from UK Galleries", at Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Glasgow, 2014. Image courtesy Rachel Marsden.

Installation view of “Art from Elsewhere. International Contemporary Art from UK Galleries”, at Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Glasgow, 2014. Photo: Rachel Marsden. Image courtesy Rachel Marsden.

Art from Elsewhere: International Contemporary Art from UK Galleries” (PDF download) is on show at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in Glasgow from 24 October 2014 until 1 February 2015. The exhibition will then tour to other UK venues:

  • Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
 – 14 February to 31 May 2015
  • Mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art)
 – 19 June to 27 September 2015
  • Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston
 – 10 October to 30 November 2015
  • Towner, Eastbourne
 – 23 January to 3 April 2016
  • Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, and Arnolfini, Bristol – 22 April to 17 July 2016

Curated by David Elliott, it features seventy works by 39 artists from 22 countries, where the show adapts accordingly as it moves between the six galleries and museums on the exhibition tour. The exhibition draws on and highlights works from their collections that have been built through Art Fund International, an innovative collecting initiative conceived in 2007.

Shilpa Gupta, 'There is No Border Here', 2006 © Shilpa Gupta. Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris.

Shilpa Gupta, ‘There is No Border Here’, 2006. © Shilpa Gupta. Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris.

The exhibition recognises the vital importance of continuing to enrich collections of contemporary art throughout the United Kingdom. It gives an overview of some of the most influential artists working globally today through examining various themes – personal oral and written historical narratives, class systems, peripheral communities, political oppression, anthropology, sociocultural commentary, urban engagement and psycho-geographies of space – ultimately, something everyone can find a place within.

During the launch of the inaugural exhibition in Glasgow, Art Radar talked to curator David Elliott about his vision for the exhibitions and how they will adapt as the tour goes along.

Yael Bartana, 'Summer Camp', 2007. © Yael Bartana. Image courtesy Annet Gelink, Amsterdam.

Yael Bartana, ‘Summer Camp’, 2007. © Yael Bartana. Image courtesy Annet Gelink, Amsterdam.

Do you want to take us through the process of how you chose the works?

The whole process of choosing the works was going to each venue and seeing the works.

Were you responsible for choosing the venues?

Hayward Touring arranged all the venues. All the venues are participating museums except the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, which is an additional museum. It was a process of going out, having a look, seeing what had been bought and getting a feel for it, then sitting down and then thinking: what would a good show be out of all that? And then looking at each venue, the plans of each space, thinking what would make sense. I tried to have relatively few works from Glasgow here at GoMA. Some of the works are shown here to audiences for the first time.

So is it fragmented in each venue?

Yes, it will be different in each venue.

Emily Jacir, 'Crossing Surda (a record of going to and from work)', 2002. © Emily Jacir. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London.

Emily Jacir, ‘Crossing Surda (a record of going to and from work)’, 2002. © Emily Jacir. Image courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London.

Is there a different thematic in that way?

No. ‘‘Art from Elsewhere” operates on several levels. It is an exhibition of contemporary art, but why is “contemporary” necessary? I ask this particularly in relation to regional museums, to places, to histories, to traditions, to memories, to desires of their own. It was a great opportunity for the regional venues to develop and grow a collection – and when I say develop, I mean work with what you already have; and when I say collect, I mean to step outside the box to see how the world has changed.

Today is a capitalist free-for-all where we must question – is the art any good? And what do we mean by good? Good for whom? These questions are my job to reconcile as a curator. The hyper-pricing of art makes it difficult, and curators are not as informed as they used to be and often think they are above themselves. You learn, you begin, you grow, you change as the world changes around you.

Western Europe and North America are inflammatory to show anything outside of that, where it is often called “ethnic”, amongst other words. It is expansion, change, growing, curiosity  – not about “exoticism” or “utopia” – the latter a word that means nowhere and no place, never get there, never will, might be able to get somewhere else.

Individual artists are looking outside at the world and are of a high quality. This exhibition is the tip of the iceberg – the here and now, what can or could be done with proper public funding, in public spaces.

“Art from Elsewhere” is therefore reflected in different ways in each venue, dependent on the architecture of the space and what is available. Here at GoMA, we had problems with air conditioning and thus conservation, so certain works couldn’t be shown. That was a very concrete consideration, whereas other venues will be easier and we will be able to choose anything, but then it comes down to how the space will work.

Yang Zhenzhong, 'Let's Puff', 2002. © Yang Zhenzhong. Image courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery.

Yang Zhenzhong, ‘Let’s Puff’, 2002. © Yang Zhenzhong. Image courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery.

Do you see the space, the gallery, on a local level, impacting the show as well?

Totally. Wherever I’m showing is local. Whatever show it is, the space is very important. Curatorially, in conceiving the show, they’re very important because they have these imprints and memories that have happened and are happening. For example, artists Romuald Hazoumè and Meschac Gaba, both from Benin in West Africa, deal with the same issues of authorship and ethnography but in very different ways.

Are there any key issues you want people to see in the show, especially in terms of this relationship to the changing global domain?

Yes – the fact that it is all anti-racist, anti-isolation, and this seems to be getting big – becoming anti-nationalist. They are such broad subjects. We are in a very unstable time at the moment. It’s not anyone’s making, it is a whole bunch of considerations. It is institutional greed and cynical erosion of personal freedoms, and because of this no one has any high ground. The West no longer claims to have high ground – that would be hypocritical. Where does that leave us? It puts us in a situation where we have to change. We have the structures whereby you should be able to have a free world… but how to do it and not to have a revolution? I haven’t seen one work yet. They end up in blood, and that’s the last thing the world wants.

Ola Kolehmainen, 'Shadow of Church', 2006. © Ola Kolehmainen. Image courtesy the artist.

Ola Kolehmainen, ‘Shadow of Church’, 2006. © Ola Kolehmainen. Image courtesy the artist.

In relation to “Art from Elsewhere” and the many embedded histories, it is therefore very socio-politically grounded. Do you want a common ground to be read from that or an individual association?

There is common ground through a shared humanity, migration, borders – very simple ideas – then the emotions that are attached to those are important. This is a show that gives you an education, where you see things you have never seen before. On top of that, it is art, it is something that has a lapidary quality of its own.

Are there any works that have held more resonance personally for you in the show?

It is hard to say. When you know artists, it is different, such as Helsinki artist, Ola Kolehmainan, is a friend of mine, and so is Yeesookyung. I also know Romuald Hazoumè and Jitish Kallat.

Personally, I was really pleased to see the Carl Andre “Seven Books of Poetry” series (1969), as they are works that have obviously not been possible to delve into, but they’re much more complex and multi-layered. They really relate to other poetry in a sense that they become sculpture – that is one of the clichés, they say – it is also one of the things that Lawrence Weiner, another artist in the show, says. In a sense they are sculptures, but they are many other things. They want to have their cake and eat it – to be an object and a sculpture, not to be a metaphor, but you can’t avoid it. Words are metaphorical of things and by using a chain of them you are then walking into poetry.

Yang Zhenzhong, 'Let's Puff', 2002. © Yang Zhenzhong. Image courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery.

Yang Zhenzhong, ‘Let’s Puff’, 2002. © Yang Zhenzhong. Image courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery.

There is a lot of beautiful, subtle poetic narrative in this show, in either in a semiotic sense or in a natural, verbal sense.

That’s important, as exhibitions are stories – without beginnings or endings.

Rachel Marsden

587

Related Topics: curatorial practice, touring exhibitions, interviews, events in the UK

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Tumbling towards the mainstream in Kathmandu: interview with artist Kurchi Dasgupta



Kathmandu-based Indian artist Kurchi Dasgupta embraces the “periphery of cultural production”. 

Art Radar speaks to artist and art writer Kurchi Dasgupta to learn more about the fertile contemporary art scene in Nepal, and how being an “outsider” gives her the freedom to challenge and experiment.  

Durga, 2014, oil on canvas, 36 " x 36"

Kurchi Dasgupta, ‘Durga’, 2014, oil on canvas, 36 ” x 36″. Image courtesy the artist.

Kurchi Dasgupta (b. 1974, Kolkata, India) is an Indian national based in Nepal. Dasgupta earned an advanced degree in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. In addition to being a visual artist, Dasgupta also writes about contemporary art for several print magazines and e-journals, including Art Asia Pacific, Asian Art News and Frieze MagazineThe artist’s work has been shown in India, London, Qatar and Nepal. She has presented at the Colombo Art Biennale 2014 and Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar.

Art Radar asked the artist about possible outcomes to the current interest in Nepali artists from curators, art historians and gallerists and the impact that globalisation might potentially have on Nepali artists.

As an attendee of biennials/biennales in South Asia, how do you see the future of artists in Nepal in regards to sharing their ideas about national, regional and global issues?

I am not that frequent an attendee but from what little I have seen, it is kind of easy to deduce that Nepal is soon going to be one of the new discoveries from South Asia. Perhaps a little overshadowed at present by contemporary art practitioners in neighbouring countries, Nepali artists are fast catching on to the global art idiom. Curators, art historians, gallerists are coming in and the exposure is obviously going to fast track Nepali artists to the global art scene. It is, however, naive to hope that they will be bringing something unique to the table – apart from a clutch of cultural signifiers and historical markers. It is quite impossible to bring anything to the global art ecology’s notice unless it adheres to the formal or conceptual conventions prescribed, perpetuated and condoned by the Euro-American (or the North’s) worldview.

Artists here have the potential to discover and develop their own voice, their own particular idiom informed by their geopolitical and cultural location. However, it is unlikely that this will materialise in the near future unless we are particularly vigilant about resisting the urge to seamlessly adopt globally popular trends. Blind resistance will be counter-productive, of course, with the alternative art-making processes as its first victim.

Overall, I feel the “sharing” you mention will happen at a superficial level. Less as a dialogue than an attempt to fit into the global narrative on “contemporary art”.

Kurchi Dasgupta, 'Memory Map 1', 2014, oil on canvas, 36" x 60" inches. Image courtesy the artist.

Kurchi Dasgupta, ‘Memory Map 1′, 2014, oil on canvas, 36″ x 60″ inches. Image courtesy the artist.

In a region with many strong contemporary artists, what do you find surprising or different about Nepal’s artists or their artwork?

Because of its location between China, Tibet and India, Nepal ferments a unique cultural perspective that combines, among other things, Buddhist and Hindu beliefs on equal footing. Add to this a history that had remained insulated from the world till the 1950s, and it has just let go of an absolute monarchy in 2008. As it grapples with democracy and the possibility of federalism, its second constitutional assembly is in office. Speaking nearly a hundred languages, with numerous ethnicities and castes and a decade-long civil Maoist insurgency to boot, Nepal boggles our imagination. Its capital Kathmandu remains an unparalleled, exciting and fecund site for international, regional and local cross-germinations.

Such an array of different, often opposing, perspectives has the possibility to bring something unique to contemporary Nepali art as it negotiates the twenty-first century, having leap-frogged into it. As the flux of global capital takes over our reality – both culturally and materially, Nepal’s contemporary artists are trying to present a coherent narrative of their recent national past as well as future possibilities through a contemporary and predictably “international” idiom. A few, chosen cultural signifiers are the saving grace that differentiate it from the rest of the region’s output. But adopting such a globalised, formal language has its pitfalls. It plunges the more rooted, locally relevant art into the realm of silence and oversight and pushes the easily recognisable into the dominant mainstream. Encounters with and the experience of autonomous democracy are one of the driving rationales of the global contemporary. The Nepali experience is new to this. It would be nice if artists here could record, instigate and facilitate that experience without sacrificing its uniqueness.

We are at a point in history where it is being decided which trajectory Nepali art is going to follow in future. For it to survive in the international market, the choice would be unfortunate but obvious.

You witnessed the fall of Nepal’s monarchy in 2008. Did this dramatic change in the government have an impact on contemporary arts and artists in Nepal? How?

The actual fall happened in 2006, but the impulse for change had been simmering for decades. I think the idea of art was slowly moving towards activism as early as the late nineties, but gathered momentum around 2004. I may be wrong with the dates here but that’s my general perception. The year 2008 marks Nepal’s turning into a republic. By then, a gradual flowering of free thought and democratic will had already taken place. It is exploring its own relevance and potential right now.

Kurchi Dasgupta, 'Candyfloss Dai' installation view at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, 2013, paint, wooden frames, nails, electric wires, gouache, readymade candyfloss, embroidered cloth, etc, dimension variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Kurchi Dasgupta, ‘Candyfloss Dai’ installation view at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, 2013, paint, wooden frames, nails, electric wires, gouache, readymade candyfloss, embroidered cloth, etc, dimension variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Speaking of the contemporary art scene in Nepal, how has it changed in the past several years? Any new media being used – such as performance art, video – that were not seen before?

That’s the great thing here. We all do everything! A large number of artists here practice painting, printmaking, sculpting and produce object-based or video installations alongside performance and video art. The current art ecology thankfully allows us to do that. The disorganisation in the art market allows us that freedom. There are practitioners who still restrict themselves to a particular medium. Performance and installation are recent additions to most artists’ repertoire here and these [media] have come into their own over the past ten years. New media is just beginning to get explored.

Does the “mechanism of global capital” dictate what the artists are working on or are Nepali artists doing their own thing?

Yes, it is beginning to. The [local] art scene is gradually opening up to the global art mechanism, though this is at a nascent stage. As I have already explained, the possibility of inclusion in the mainstream or alternative scene is beginning to affect – or rather, infect – the idiom of artistic output here. It is quite impossible to produce artworks or processes that are accepted by a wider viewership unless they speak a global language, make a global connect and defer to the globally dominant ideology. Of course, that should not necessarily take away from the issues on the ground, but that takes so much more effort that mostly goes unappreciated.

Kurchi Dasgupta, 'Collapse', 2010, mixed media, 20" x 20". Image courtesy the artist.

Kurchi Dasgupta, ‘Collapse’, 2010, mixed media, 20″ x 20″. Image courtesy the artist.

Typically, are there specific themes that are examined by contemporary Nepali artists more than others? Any new themes coming to the forefront?

The one theme that is getting a lot of attention is migrant labour. Remittances form the backbone of the Nepali economy, standing at more than twenty percent of the national GDP. International reports project that more than fifty percent of Nepali households enjoy the benefit of remittance inflow, mostly thanks to labour migrants. This is an immediate, unavoidable reality – and thankfully, Nepal’s artists are beginning to seriously concern themselves with the issue. Migration is finding increasing space in the mindscape of artists in Nepal. Human trafficking and basic human rights, including gender-based violence, are recurring in artworks, too.

As a female Indian artist living in Nepal, what themes are specific to you and present in your work that are not depicted by female Nepali artists?

The issues that interest me have a cross-cultural relevance, such as gender, identity, cultural memory and so on. Nepal is not all that different from India. What perhaps makes my work different, and it is different, is my location as an “outsider” here, with complete access to the cultural and political nuances at play. I have the advantage of being able to look in and critique instead of having to participate and take sides. This distance allows me to see things that often fall below local artists’ radars. Also, at times I have to refrain from taking up a position when I really want to because I am still an outsider, after all.

Frankly, I do not see many artists interrogating the themes I deal with – not with a similar sense of ideological commitment. Superficially, yes, but the commitment and intellectual rigour are mostly non-existent. There are a few exceptions, of course.

Kurchi Dasgupta, 'India Shining 2', 2013, oil on canvas, 48" x 36". Image courtesy the artist.

Kurchi Dasgupta, ‘India Shining 2′, 2013, oil on canvas, 48″ x 36″. Image courtesy the artist.

Do you feel that by living in Nepal you have had more freedom to experiment with your artwork in the “periphery of cultural production” than you would have if you were living in Kolkata?

Absolutely. I don’t think it is possible to engage in meaningful art-making if you are comfortable and at one with your surroundings. It kind of robs you of your capacity to see and you end up recognising things instead of encountering or seeing them. That dims your critical faculty to a large extent, and today, it is quite impossible to create anything meaningful unless you are raising questions about the state of things.

Since Nepal is currently at the periphery of the global art mechanism, it gives a huge amount of leeway to artists like me to experiment. I can try and do stuff in my paintings, which anywhere else, even in India, would be snubbed or ignored because it counters the visual idiom in currency globally. I can do representational, surreal, pastiche, caustic social critique all at one go. Nobody bats an eyelid! I would have to do performance or multi-media installations to put all that through in a single piece in another part of the world – or be silenced. I love the freedom I enjoy here at this point, but as soon as the local art economy gets streamlined, that freedom will be jeopardised.

On your website, you express an interest in examining “relevant questions”. How do you depict these issues in your work?

The issues of gender and identity are at the vital core of my work. It is the lens through which I see the world. At the moment, I am really taken up with cultural memory and how it works, or congeals over time. Memory Map I, for example, explores the parameters of visual culture today What are its signposts and markers, its hidden fractures? It is obviously from a postcolonial, South Asian perspective. An undercurrent of gender issues weaves the visual text together at many points, with Olympia and the living goddess Kumari.

Access Denied, another piece, explores the lack of choices available to South Asian women even today, despite the patina of technological and consumerist access. The access and choices that are supposedly there but are categorically denied us at every step, and the feeling of helplessness that pervades non-urban and semi-urban areas.

I keep using the motif of the ubiquitous candyfloss as a metaphor for unsustainable, consumerist frenzy and commodification, as well as unfulfilled desires and expectations. In the installation Candyfloss Dai (‘dai’ means brother but sometimes operates as just ‘man’ or ‘stranger’) which was shown in Qatar, the shadow of a migrant worker juxtaposed against the materiality of the candyfloss draws attention to the issues around migrant workers’ experiences alongside that of the internally displaced – issues of vital relevance to Nepal and South Asia.

I work more through associations and metaphors. When I engage in critical writing, I do the opposite. Then I try and develop a narrative around my own works through the artworks of others. How I perceive other artworks is crucial to the creation of my own. I always hope that my artworks are “read” as my writings. Each piece is an attempt to build upon and simultaneously puncture certain socio-cultural, economic and political narratives.

Kurchi Dasgupta, 'Kathmandu Calling 2', 2012, oil on canvas, 36" x 30". Image courtesy the artist.

Kurchi Dasgupta, ‘Kathmandu Calling 2′, 2012, oil on canvas, 36″ x 30″. Image courtesy the artist.

Any upcoming shows in 2015 and beyond that you are participating in (either as solo or group exhibitions)?

I am working on my next solo show, to be showcased in 2015. It has been a while, and I think I owe it to myself to bring together the many ideas that have been simmering within me these past few years. The show will have paintings, of course, but also installations, including some video work. I am excited about the video component because it is a new medium I am about to explore.

 Lisa Pollman

580

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Fashionable alliances: Contemporary dialogues between Asian art and fashion – part 1



For at least two centuries, fashion designers and art practitioners have merged fashion and art in glamorous crossovers and dazzling collaborations. 

In the first installment of a three-part series, Art Radar brings you a brief history of the fashion exhibition and highlights three shows that explore, exploit and actively evolve the complex relationship between fashion and art in Asian contexts. 

John Galliano for House of Dior, fall/winter 1997–98. Photography by Nick Knight. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Nick Knight / Trunk Archive.

John Galliano for House of Dior, fall/winter 1997–98. Photography by Nick Knight. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Nick Knight / Trunk Archive.

The fashion exhibition

When two worlds meet

There are two contrasting views towards the marriage of art and fashion. On the one hand, purist art lovers eschew the fickle and commercial world of fashion. A 2013 article in The Wall Street Journal says:

We think of art appreciation as erudite, but an interest in fashion is considered airheaded. When an art-lover buys art, it’s called ‘collecting’. When a fashion enthusiast buys clothing, it’s called ‘shopping’. Art is supposed to be timeless and important, while fashion is understood to be ephemeral and frivolous.

On the other hand, some believe that the worlds of art and fashion are more similar than previously imagined. “Fashion is as enduring as art for what it might tell us about history and how it might describe the zeitgeist”, says Alison Kubler, co-author of Art/Fashion in the 21st Century (2013). The sentiment is echoed in the blurb of Fashion and Art (2012), a book that established the term ‘art-fashion’ as a discrete area of study:

Both fashion and art construct imaginary worlds, and use a language of style to invigorate beliefs, perceptions and ideas.

Fashion enters the museum

Regardless of the differing views, it is an undeniable fact that art and fashion frequently cross paths today. From designer-artist collaborations to wearable art, and from fashion photography to the high-fashion parties that accompany art fairs, the spheres of fashion and art are intricately intertwined.

Fashion received its official status as a legitimatised fine art form when museums began to pay attention – when major art institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Musée de la Mode et du Textile at the Louvre in Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London began to host exhibitions that forged a new genre of fashion visual culture.

The first exhibition to present current fashions – rather than historic costumes – was the groundbreaking Yves Saint Laurent retrospective at the Met in 1983. The show was curated by Diana Vreeland, legendary editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, whose subsequent shows, according to Artspace,

succeeded in abolishing the aura of antiquarianism previously associated with costume display and became the most influential examples of an emergent genre.

John Galliano for House of Dior, fall/winter 1997–98. Photograph by Chris Moore. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

John Galliano for House of Dior, fall/winter 1997–98. Photograph by Chris Moore. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Controversies and cultural statements

Fashion exhibitions abound today; according to Artspace they are now “a staple of major museums’ programming”. Such shows attract record levels of attendance despite criticisms from art purists. New Republic describes them as “giant shows of questionable relevance, which seem to bring in the crowds regardless of quality”. Merits of the exhibitions aside, conservatives also grumble that shows sponsored by fashion brands compromise the public-ness of institutions and the world of art itself.

In response, Markus Brüderlin, Director of the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany, has argued that fashion in museums provide a statement about our culture. He declared:

A museum pointing the way ahead in the search for Modernism in the twenty first century cannot ignore fashion.

Meanwhile, Massimiliano Gioni, curator of the 55th Venice Biennale, says that support provided by fashion foundations plays a crucial role in the art world. Gioni was quoted by Business of Fashion as saying:

In Italy in particular, certain fashion foundations have basically had to take on the role of public institutions and museums. [...] For more than a decade a lot of the most ambitious public exhibitions of contemporary art in Milan have been organised and produced by fashion brands.

Asian-themed exhibitions

Perhaps fashion exhibitions can escape such controversies by focusing not on on the brand, but on fashion’s social and historical implications. The following three exhibitions, featuring historical and current Asian designers, attempt to do exactly this. While Asian-themed fashion exhibitions are still less common than their Western counterparts, these thoughtfully curated shows succeed in standing out from the crowd.

1. Material Translations: Japanese Fashion | Art Institute of Chicago (2012)

This 2012 exhibition was an iconic show held two years ago that traced the influence of Japanese designers in the 1980s through the 2000s. According to the Art Institute of Chicago, the exhibition marked several milestones:

The first time pieces from the School’s Fashion Resource Center [were] shown in public and the first time contemporary fashion [was] presented within the museum’s Asian Art galleries. It’s also the first true collaboration between the Fashion Resource Center and the Art Institute [...].

One classic example from the collaborative exhibition is Rei Kawakubo’s 1983 sack dress that characterised the aesthetic of poverty, “concealing, not revealing, the female form in muted color”. Issey Miyake took a similar disregard for conventional silhouettes; his now familiar Pleats Please collection dressed the female form in origami inspired shapes of crisp pleatingTime Magazine wrote that Kawakubo and Miyake’s avant-garde creations revolutionised clothing by blurring the line between fashion and art.

Installation view of ‘The Future of Fashion is Now’ (2014) with the work on the right hand side of the photograph by Japanese designer Pyuupiru. Photo by Aad Hoogendoorn. Image courtesy the designer and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

Installation view of “The Future of Fashion is Now” (2014). Work on the right by Japanese designer Pyuupiru. Photo by Aad Hoogendoorn. Image courtesy the designer and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

2. The Future of Fashion is Now | Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2014)

In contrast to the historical Japanese show, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s “The Future of Fashion is Now” (2014) is a uniquely contemporary affair. Curated by Dutch writer and art collector Han Nefkens, the exhibition showcases the most innovative visions by young designers from all over the world. It actively seeks out designers with non-Western backgrounds, invites them to take a critical view of the current fashion system and challenges them to come up with cutting-edge solutions.

Installation view of ‘The Future of Fashion is Now’ (2014) with the work on the left hand side of the photograph by Rejina Pyo. Photo by Nieuwe Beelden Makers. Image courtesy the designer and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam.

Installation view of “The Future of Fashion is Now” (2014). Work on the left by Rejina Pyo. Photo by Nieuwe Beelden Makers. Image courtesy the designer and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam.

Rejina Pyo from South Korea, for example, explores the relationship between fashion and sculptural art with her Perspex and metal dresses. Wang Lei from China makes traditional Chinese costumes from woven toilet tissue, and Pyuupiru from Japan creates hand-knitted garbs that free the wearer from the normal restrictions of the human body. Ultimately, the show seeks to

connect and celebrate young fashion designers/artists around the world and, as such [...] work towards defining a new system of fashion.

The exhibition runs at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, until 18 January 2015.

Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent, fall/winter 2004–5. Photograph by Marcio Madeira. Image Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art and firstVIEW.

Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent, fall/winter 2004–5. Photograph by Marcio Madeira. Image Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art and firstVIEW.

3. China: Through the Looking Glass | Metropolitan Museum of Art (2015)

Finally, this much anticipated show at the Met in New York is an ambitious, cross-disciplinary exploration of how imagery from China inspired fashion designers from Paul Poiret to Yves Saint Laurent. “China: Through the Looking Glass” (2015), hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a collaborative effort between the Museum’s Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art that

explore[s] how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries, resulting in highly creative distortions of cultural realities and mythologies.

Film Still from 'In the Mood for Love' (2000). Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Block 2 Pictures Inc.

Film Still from ‘In the Mood for Love’ (2000). Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Block 2 Pictures Inc.

The exhibition will be presented in the Museum’s Chinese Galleries and Anna Wintour Costume Center. Featuring more than one hundred examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear alongside Chinese art, the show juxtaposes high fashion with Chinese costumes, paintings and porcelains. Furthermore, filmic representations of China are also incorporated to reveal how our visions of China are framed by narratives that draw on popular culture.

The exhibition will run at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from 7 May to 16 August 2015. 

Next in this series

In the second installment of this three-part series, Art Radar introduces 8 defining collaborations between Asian artists and designers.

Michele Chan

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Related Topics: art and fashion, museum shows, events in New York

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“Some Like it Witty”: Japanese artists blend pathos with humour – in pictures



Gallery EXIT presents a group exhibition that revives the ancient Japanese concept of pathos, mono no aware, and combines it with gentle humour. 

Entitled “Some Like it Witty”, the exhibition features 12 Japanese artists who explore the use of humour and jest alongside pathos and sentimentality.

Yusuke yamatini, 'Tsugi no yoru e 18', 2010, gelatin silver print, 30.7 x 38.7 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Yusuke Yamatini, ‘Tsugi no yoru e 18′, 2010, gelatin silver print, 30.7 x 38.7 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Gallery EXIT in Hong Kong is presenting a group exhibition entitled “Some Like it Witty” until 23 December 2014. Curated by Japanese contemporary art collector Daisuke Miyatsu, the show features twelve participating artists:

  • Tetsuro Kano
  • Yuko Mohri
  • Yu Nishimura
  • Yoshinori Niwa
  • Nobuyuki Okano
  • Kazuya Sakamoto
  • Yusuke Shibata
  • Hikaru Suzuki
  • Keisuke Tada
  • Mayumi Tanabe
  • Naoki Tomita
  • Yusuke Yamatani

‘Mono no aware’

Mono no aware, literally translated as ‘the pathos of things’, is an ancient Japanese term for the awareness of the impermanence of things. The word connotes a gentle sadness or wistfulness towards the transient nature of life. First-time curator Daisuke Miyatsu describes mono no aware as

a subjective pathos extracted from objective matter and object [that] births the unique Japanese sentimentality towards the world which is both elegant and exquisite.

Mayumi Tanabe, 'Untitled (Osmosis)', 2014, paraffin, vaseline, silicon, acrylic tank, LED, wood, 1500 x 750 x 130 mm. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Mayumi Tanabe, ‘Untitled (Osmosis)’, 2014, paraffin, vaseline, silicon, acrylic tank, LED, wood, 1500 x 750 x 130 mm. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Miyatsu identifies mono no aware in opposition to the “cutesy” Kawaii style often associated with Japanese art. In the press release, Miyatsu describes the Kawaii style as being monotonous, saying that:

some [artists] unconsciously create incessantly in this Kawaii style. This is [...] the reason why the common trait between young Japanese artists has gone blearily indistinguishable nowadays.

Yusuke Yamatani, 'Tsugi no yoru e 50', 2010, gelatin silver print, 30.7 x 38.7 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Yusuke Yamatani, ‘Tsugi no yoru e 50′, 2010, gelatin silver print, 30.7 x 38.7 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

In contrast, Miyatsu’s exhibition concept recalls the ancient Japanese aesthetic of mono no aware. The artworks are infused with a poignant sensitivity and the exhibition takes on a delicate, spiritual quality.

Humour and jest

Seeping through the tender pathos of the artworks is a “polarised sense of jest”, says Miyatsu. If mono no aware was born from a nation that suffered years of recession and natural disasters, that same harshness of reality also prompted a humorous way of dealing with life. Miyatsu writes:

The morale among Japanese people remains depressive abreast the consistent recession across the country. The post-311 Tōhoku earthquake also gives rise to a prevailing helplessness. [...] The Japanese could only confront the both entangling and brutal reality with a sense of humour. This humour is hence evolved into a spiritual power, the so-called ‘jest’.

Yusuke Shibata, 'Distance' (video still), single channel video with sound, 10 min 52 s. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Yusuke Shibata, ‘Distance’ (video still), single channel video with sound, 10 min. 52 sec. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Yusuke Shibata, 'Distance' (video still), single channel video with sound, 10 min 52 s. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Yusuke Shibata, ‘Distance’ (video still), single channel video with sound, 10 min. 52 sec. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

There is thus a curious juxtaposition between pathos and humour, sentimentality and jest. Individual artworks and the entire exhibition as a whole exude a refined sensitivity that balances sadness with a gentle hope.

Yoshinori Niwa, 'Marching from the Prime Minister's Office to the Top of Mt. Fuji in Demonstration', 2012, two-channel video installation, 15 min 26 s. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Yoshinori Niwa, ‘Marching from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Top of Mt. Fuji in Demonstration’, 2012, two-channel video installation, 15 min. 26 sec. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Yoshinori Niwa, 'Marching from the Prime Minister's Office to the Top of Mt. Fuji in Demonstration', 2012, two-channel video installation, 15 min 26 s. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Yoshinori Niwa, ‘Marching from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Top of Mt. Fuji in Demonstration’, 2012, two-channel video installation, 15 min. 26 sec. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

About Daisuke Miyatsu

Miyatsu is considered a ‘salaryman collector’ – someone who builds his collection from paycheck to paycheck. After buying his first piece by Yayoi Kusama in 1994, Miyatsu’s passion for art led him to collect over 300 works of art over a period of twenty years. His collection has been exhibited both at home and abroad over the years, including a large-scale exhibition at the Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art.

Michele Chan

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Katrina Sedgwick appointed director and CEO of Melbourne’s ACMI



ACMI appoints award-winning festival director and creative producer as new Director and CEO.

The influential Australian Centre for the Moving Image’s new Director and CEO appointment comes at a time when global conversation on digital technology is growing.

Katrina Sedgwick. Image courtesy ACMI.

Katrina Sedgwick. Image courtesy ACMI.

On 11 December 2014, Peter Lewinsky, President of the ACMI Board, announced the appointment of Katrina Sedgwick as the new Director and CEO of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). Sedgwick is a broadcasting executive and award-winning festival director and creative producer.

Sedgwick succeeds Tony Sweeney, who announced in June that he would be returning to Britain, despite having been offered another five-year term with the organisation. Over the past ten years, Sweeney was a driving force that helped establish ACMI’s international profile and brought visitor numbers to a record 1.3 million in 2013-2014. Sedgwick’s appointment comes at an important time in the Centre’s development and, as Lewinsky commented in the press release, she will bring valuable expertise to ACMI:

Katrina’s notable experience, wide industry connections and stellar reputation as an entrepreneurial and collaborative creative leader marked her out as the ideal person to take us into a new era. It is particularly gratifying to be able to attract someone of Katrina’s standing as one of Australia’s most admired media and arts executives to take on this influential role.

Creative Industries Minister Martin Foley also welcomed Sedgwick, underlining the importance of her role in the broader spectrum of the creative arts of Victoria, as quoted in the press release:

Katrina’s extensive knowledge of film, broadcasting and digital media, and her well-known passion for the arts, make her an ideal leader to take ACMI into its new decade. I look forward to her contribution, not just to ACMI, but to the future of a creative Victoria.

Daniel Crooks, 'Static No.12', 2009-10. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.

Daniel Crooks, ‘Static No.12′, 2009-10. Crooks was recently awarded the Ian Potter Moving Image Commission (IPMIC), which provides specialised curatorial, production and presentation expertise from ACMI to create new work to be exhibited at ACMI’s Gallery 2 in 2016. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.

Ground-breaking expertise for ACMI

Katrina Sedgwick has an extensive background as a performer, creative producer and arts festival director. She has been the Head of Arts for ABC Television and ABC Arts online since 2012, and from 2002 to 2011 she was the founding Director and CEO of the biennial Adelaide Film Festival and its Investment Fund.

As Head of Arts for ABC, Sedgwick was responsible for commissioning a diverse range of projects for prime time television, including some recent highlights such as Brilliant Creatures and Tender, two documentaries nominated by Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts (AACTA). Sedgwick also implemented a new strategy for Arts at ABC, serving as the Chair of ABC Arts Council. Additionally, she created an ABC Arts brand which engages with arts content across ABC platforms including TV, radio, news and online channels. Her innovative vision has pushed multi-platform and hybrid broadcast projects.

Yang Fudong, 'The Coloured Sky - New Women II', 2014. Commissioned by ACMI and the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Image courtesy ACMI.

Yang Fudong, ‘The Coloured Sky – New Women II’, 2014, video still. Commissioned by ACMI and the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Image courtesy ACMI.

For the Adelaide Film Festival and its Fund, Sedgwick has sponsored 19 Australian features to date – documentaries, shorts, cross platform and installation works – including the critically acclaimed Snowtown (2011 Special Jury Mention, Critics Week Cannes) and Samson and Delilah (2009 winner Camera d’Or Cannes), among others.

In the press release, Sedgwick praises Tony Sweeney’s contribution and looks forward to being part of Victoria’s rich cultural life. She further comments on how this is an important time to join ACMI:

It’s an exciting time to join the organisation as audience engagement with the screen is evolving so rapidly – in film and television, online through digital first content, in gaming, in visual art and indeed right across the arts. Digital technology is fundamentally shifting how audiences and communities connect with ideas and with each other, and ACMI is at the centre of this global conversation.

Yang Fudong, 'Yejiang (The Nightman Cometh)', 2011. Image courtesy the artist, ShanghART Gallery and Marian Goodman Gallery.

Yang Fudong, ‘Yejiang (The Nightman Cometh)’, 2011, video still. Image courtesy the artist, ShanghART Gallery and Marian Goodman Gallery.

An exciting time at ACMI

ACMI’s programme for the end of 2014 and the year 2015 promises some ground-breaking, influential exhibitions. Currently, ACMI is hosting a major international season of exhibitions, talks, live events and film screenings entitled “China Up Close”. The focal point of this season is the exhibition “Yang Fudong: Filmscapes”, featuring the internationally renowned Chinese artist and filmmaker’s lyrical cinematic works, on show until 15 March 2015. The exhibition includes a special one-off screening of the artist’s acclaimed film cycle, Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest (2003 – 2007) on 14 December 2014, marking the first-ever presentation of all five films in a cinema.

Starting from February 2015, ACMI will also be touring “Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing: From book to film” to nine regional centres, revealing the backstage process of how Tan’s book became an award-winning animated film.

From July to November 2015, ACMI will present an exclusive Australasian presentation from the V&A in London, entitled “David Bowie is”, celebrating the career of one of the most influential artists and performers of our times.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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6 Kuwaiti performance artists to know



Art Radar profiles 6 Kuwaiti performance artists who participated in Per|Form 2014.

In 2014, nonprofit art space Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) in Kuwait held a performance art programme and event. Art Radar profiles 6 of its participants from Kuwait, introducing their practice and their featured performances.

Mo Reda, 'Yet I see The Invisible Border', 2012, performance , Makkan art space, Amman, Jordan. Image courtesy the artist.

Mo Reda, ‘Yet I see The Invisible Border’, 2012, performance , Makkan art space, Amman, Jordan. Image courtesy the artist/curator.

Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) is the only nonprofit contemporary art space in Kuwait. CAP encourages dialogue in contemporary art, and supports and promotes emerging and established artists through a programme of exhibitions, workshops, lectures and other events. It also houses a public arts library, a studio space and holds film screenings.

Per|Form is Kuwait’s first performance art production project, consisting of a two-month programme of extensive research, workshops, coaching and practicing performance, culminating in an event. This year, the event was held on 4 May 2014 and was curated by Amsterdam-based Kuwaiti curator and artist Mo Reda (b. 1977), with the support of other tutors such as Neil van der linden, Co-founder of GULF ART GUIDE, and Hasan Hujairi, a sound artist. The event featured eleven group and individual performances, staged throughout a commercial shopping mall, involving the participation of the audience.

Judy Ann Moule, 'Wailing the Other', (video still), 2014, multimedia performance. Image courtesy the artist.

Judy Ann Moule, ‘Wailing the Other’, (video still), 2014, multimedia performance. Image courtesy the artist.

Netherlands-based Reda, of Persian, Russian, Iraqi and Kurdish origins, has also organised other important regional art projects, such as the first public art festival in Bahrain. Entitled “ALWAN 338″, the festival was co-organised with Al Riwaq Art Space and the Artist Leadership Program (Bahrain, 2013) involving 27 local artists of all backgrounds.

In 2014, Reda returned to Kuwait for the first time in twenty years to organise Per|Form. The project introduced performance art as a professional production method. Art Radar profiles six Kuwaiti artists among the ten participants in Per|Form 2014.

Dana Aljouder, 'BLOCKS', (video still), 2014, performance video. Image courtesy the artist.

Dana Aljouder, ‘BLOCKS’, (video still), 2014, performance video. Image courtesy the artist.

Dana Aljouder

Designer, writer and performance artist Dana Aljouder graduated from the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, with a BA in Architecture in 2009. In 2008, she had her first solo exhibition, entitled “The Chair” at the Pratt Institute’s Higgins Hall, and in 2013 she presented “Kursi” at the Design Terminal in Budapest.

Aljouder worked with OOS on the winebox installations of the Albert Reichmuth showroom in Zurich, and also collaborated with Kuwaiti sound artist Bassem Mansour (also in Per|Form 2014) at the Beirut Art Center show “Exposures” and Altofest Performance Festival in Naples in 2012 and 2013. Ajoulder will soon be publishing the first book of a trilogy: a fantasy fiction novel with her co-writer Nicole Vardi.

Dana Aljouder, 'BLOCKS', (video still), 2014, performance video. Image courtesy the artist.

Dana Aljouder, ‘BLOCKS’, (video still), 2014, performance video. Image courtesy the artist.

At Per|Form, Aljouder produced a performance video entitled BLOCKS, documenting a performance in which she wore ‘blocks’ – rectangular cardboard shapes built and painted by the artist to resemble the blocks she once played with as a child. Aljouder’s practice is primarily influenced by the architectural research pertaining to the building she is working on. BLOCKS is her third performance on this concept. Aljouder told Art Radar about her performance:

Set in the once glorified Fahad Al Salem Street in Kuwait, this is a story about a child who searches to fit into [her] urban environment. With toys, the child attempts to reclaim innocence of places that have forgotten their joy.

Vachan Sharma, Untitled, 2014, perfomance. Image courtesy the artist.

Vachan Sharma, Untitled, 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

Vachan Sharma

Filmmaker Vachan Sharma holds a BSc in Environmental Science and Visual Arts (emphasis in Sculpture) with a minor in Biology from the University of Redlands in California, as well as an MFA in Cinematic Arts from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Sharma won the Best Cinematography Award at the 2013 Shanghai International Film Festival for the Swedish fiction feature Förtroligheten (Reliance). Among his other films is Ve Tool (2004), in which a Kuwaiti film student and an American Gulf War veteran-turned-ceramicist struggle to understand the wounds of war.

At Per|Form, Sharma created a work that defies simple explanation even for the artist. He told Art Radar:

I’m still unsure about the title of my piece but it’s either “Stuck” or “The Valley”. […] It’s hard for me to explain the piece.  It changes each time I attempt to understand it. It’s subtle and reflexive.

Vachan Sharma, Untitled, 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

Vachan Sharma, Untitled, 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

The work involved the use of a video projector projecting the image of a room and a doorway multiple times. The projection was screened in the same space where it was shot. Sharma was experimenting with the ‘Droste effect’, or mise en abyme, a term used to describe the visual experience of standing between two mirrors and seeing an infinite reproduction of one’s image, or relating to – in Western art history – a formal technique in which an image contains a smaller copy of itself, in a sequence appearing to recur ad infinitum. Sharma says about the work:

I interact with the space, by interacting with projected versions of myself. At first “we” are trapped in our given dimension of the space. In time we find our way out of “the valley”.  We find our way out of being “stuck”. It’s an autobiographical piece where I struggle to overcome myself (past choices, past delusions of a possible future). I find myself. I find the light.

Farah Haider, 'Society Projections', 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

Farah Haider, ‘Society Projections’, 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

Farah S. Haider

Photographer and graphic designer Farah Haider graduated from the Gulf University for Science & Technology with a BA in Visual Communications. An avid collector of Polaroid cameras, Haider began exploring light and shadow as a self-taught photographer at the age of fifteen. Haider creates digital, film and instant work, spanning a variety of genres, from street to conceptual photography. Her main interest lies in documenting powerful, candid moments of urban life. Haider also has a personal photography brand, Aperture 2.0, offering products ranging from postcards to notebooks and t-shirts.

Farah Haider, 'Society Projections', 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

Farah Haider, ‘Society Projections’, 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

At Per|Form, she created Society Projections, a work in which a bride (the artist) proudly invites people to visit her beautiful home (an empty white room). She describes with excitement how the house is spotless and perfect, with everything from chairs to decoration, featuring a variety of shades of white. Suddenly, she sits down and a projection of the beautiful items that make her so happy begins. Slowly, projections of more things: chores, a husband and children start piling up on top of each other, almost suffocating the space and the bride. Haider explains:

This performance raises the topic of different projections that our local society places on women. There are many common local phrases that show these projections. In this performance, one of these phrases will be highlighted and the artist will respond to this phrase her own way.

The phrase Elmara Mokanha Bayt.ha [a woman’s place is her home] begins to appear on her, and the bride gets up and leaves.

Shemej Kumar, 'Solitude- Love. (The true love of mother on your existence)', 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

Shemej Kumar, ‘Solitude- Love. (The true love of mother on your existence)’, 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

Shemej Kumar

Shemej Kumar introduces himself as “a professional engineer with artistic vision” and holds a BTech in Instrumentation & Control Engineering and a BSc in Physics. Kumar has written and directed several theatre plays and two short films and has won awards for his direction and screenplays.

At Per|Form, Kumar presented Solitude – Love. (The true love of mother on your existence). He says about the concept behind his work:

Loneliness always gives [rise to] memories [which] are sweet when soaked in love. [The] love of [a] mother is eternal and unconditional. How do I express the love of my mother?

Shemej Kumar, 'Solitude- Love. (The true love of mother on your existence)', 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

Shemej Kumar, ‘Solitude- Love. (The true love of mother on your existence)’, 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

The artist, sitting in solitude in the darkened space with a spotlight shining on him, thinks about the love of his mother. Suddenly, he gets up and walks towards a person from the audience, stops and sits in front of him/her and recites a poem about his mother’s love. In the background, music is playing: it is the sound of “Om” chanting, the sound that was made when all of creation came into existence, and therefore referencing the life-giving love of a mother. Kumar explains:

The essence of the universe and all creation, wrapped up in one unimaginable and indescribable aggregate (for lack of a better term), is known as Brahman. The “Om” represents the four divine states of Brahman – metta (loving kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity).

Deena Qabazard, 'Internal Landscape', 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Photo: Aziz Al Mudhaf. Image courtesy the artist.

Deena Qabazard, ‘Internal Landscape’, 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Photo: Aziz Al Mudhaf. Image courtesy the artist.

Deena Qabazard

American-Kuwaiti artist Deena Qabazard holds a BA in Interdisciplinary studies in the arts, focusing on Visual Arts and Sculpture, from The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington. She works with a variety of media, including drawing, painting, sculpture and digital media in combination with other unexpected materials. Qabazard explains the concept behind her practice:

My motive is blurring the lines between what is unsightly, unsettling, in conjunction with what is transcendent and beautiful. My work has become an ongoing experimental play and a cross-cultural examination.

Qabazard investigates her curiosities and fascinations, in an ongoing “experimental play” to find her own – and others’ – “relationship to discomfort, disgust and horror”, as she attempts to challenge our pre-conceived notions of what is disgusting. Much like a scientist, she experiments with substances, everyday objects and neglected household items:

I use these to amalgamate forms, textures, and colors that possess a disfigured humanity. I hope to inspire people to face the realities of our delicate corporeal shells: ones that are prone to decay, atrophy, deformity, and aberrations at any moment in time. It is in this acknowledgement of our temporal flesh that I hope the viewer will gain insight into how beautiful this inherent physical/mental vulnerability to the grotesque actually is.

Deena Qabazard, 'Internal Landscape', 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Photo: Aziz Al Mudhaf. Image courtesy the artist.

Deena Qabazard, ‘Internal Landscape’, 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Photo: Aziz Al Mudhaf. Image courtesy the artist.

Qabazard is continually inspired by the ways she can feel her own body, her own discomfort and her own fears: “Maybe our biggest fear is having something in common with that which we are horrified by.”

At Per|Form she presented Internal Landscape, a performance that involved Qabazard covering her own face and letting her body spontaneously dance, convulse, crawl and spiral out of control. As she explains to Art Radar:

The work itself was a natural response to a live and unknown audience. An exploration of freedom and restraint and everything that lies in between.

Click here to watch Bassem Mansour’s performance at Per|Form 2014 on youtube.com

Bassem Mansour

Audiovisual and installation artist Bassem Mansour creates works inspired by people’s social behaviour and their engagement with daily life within their immediate surroundings. His practice examines the cross-relations between the visual, noise and memory. In his video works – a series of performances and experiments – he tests the limits of repetition and the idea of form. Currently, Mansour is working on an identity web project, GLNU KIRS, to be launched in 2015.

At Per|Form, Mansour presented, for the first time, Pseudo Exclusionist Insemination (2014). According to the artist, radical thought passively duplicates itself through channels of communication. In this context, people’s attempts to reconcile differences of identity and race and to define one’s identity in a global environment are becoming increasingly difficult.

Bassem Mansour, 'Pseudo Exclusionist Insemination', 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

Bassem Mansour, ‘Pseudo Exclusionist Insemination’, 2014, performance at Per|Form, CAP Kuwait. Image courtesy the artist.

Existing channels of communication, sponsored by the media, are therefore genuinely trying to promote pseudo-identity culture, as the artist explains:

Since the boundary between a localised and globalised identity started to blur,
 the traditional principle of nationality-colour-religion diverged into a collection of pseudo-identities inspired by populism, elitism, rightness, wrongness, superiority, inferiority, mastery, slavery, literacy, illiteracy, intellectualism and stupidity, in the most ambiguous sense of the term.

The artist re-wrote a set of exclusionist historic quotes and used them as a base to generate a discourse with a communicative audience. The performance reenacted the common scene of debate
 and propaganda, the way we are accustomed to it in daily political and social life.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Last minute holiday gift ideas for art lovers



Running late on your Christmas shopping? Don’t fret, Art Radar has ideas for you.

We’re all guilty of procrastination, but luckily there are a multitude of hassle-free options still available. If you have an art lover in your life, consider choosing from one of these quick, painless but very rewarding gift options.

Peng Wei, 'Embroidered Shoes Series', 2002, Chinese ink on rice paper, 43.9 x 43.9 cm. Image courtesy the artist and KT Press.

Peng Wei, ‘Embroidered Shoes Series’, 2002, Chinese ink on rice paper, 43.9 x 43.9 cm. Image courtesy the artist and KT Press.

A gift voucher from Bluethumb

Bluethumb is an online marketplace aiming to make Australian art accessible to anyone, where buyers can purchase works directly from artists. They offer works in various genres, including Aboriginal art and art below AUD250. Choose a voucher value and get immediate delivery (print or email) and a customised message.

A subscription to Aesthetica magazine

Aesthetica is a bi-monthly print and digital publication engaging with visual art and culture from the United Kingdom and also internationally. Gift subscriptions include a free gift-wrap service and customised message.

A subscription to Art Asia Pacific

AAP is the leading magazine on contemporary art from the Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern regions. A subscription costs USD85 for one year, which includes six issues, shipped from Hong Kong worldwide. The two-year option costs USD180.

A gift card from YellowKorner

Founded in Paris, YellowKorner now has galleries and branches worldwide and specialises in the sale of limited edition art photography. The virtual gift card is sent instantaneously in PDF format via email. Values of the card start from EUR50.

A membership to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)

NGV is offering gift memberships for individuals or families – recipients will also receive a free exhibition ticket to The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” or the after-hours event Friday Nights at Jean Paul Gaultier (individuals) or a complimentary copy of the NGV children’s book Express Yourself! Romance Was Born for Kids. Delivery takes up to three days.

A gift card from s|edition

s|edition has a special holiday offer for a limited number of physical gift cards, which contain a personal code to redeem the artwork in digital format from their website. Among the options are blue-chip artists such as Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Bharti Kher, Yoko Ono and Liu Xiaodong. You can also choose to send a stored value physical gift card, and a gift or a gift voucher via email.

Art Fund’s UK National Art Pass

Art Fund offers great discounts on National Art Passes to enjoy free or discounted entry to museums and galleries all over the United Kingdom. Options include individual, double, family and under 26, and Annual, Direct Debit and a Lifelong for only GBP1,300. Benefits include a subscription to the Art Quarterly, discounts in cafés, shops and on catalogues, and fifty percent off on exhibitions entry fees. You can choose your card from six designs.

Art e-books from KT Press

KT Press is a not-for-profit publishing company aiming to promote understanding of women artists and their work. They also offer gift subscriptions for their print editions.

A membership to the Asia Society, New York

Members are invited to members-only events, unlimited free museum admission, special prices to public programmes and film screenings, and discounts at the store and cafe.

A guest pass to the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers guest passes to individuals and organisations. The passes are beautifully printed on high-quality paper and may be mailed from the Museum to you or to a designated recipient. 

How to Write About Contemporary Art (e-book)

This book is authored by Gilda Williams, and is invaluable for anyone interested in art writing and art criticism, from academic essays to press releases and catalogue texts. Purchase a Kindle edition from Amazon.

If you’re interested in art writing, check out Art Radar’s Diploma in Art Journalism & Writing course and get published in 2015!

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