Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed transforms traditional techniques into lush 3D forms – interview



Azerbaijan’s Faig Ahmed merges fresh, modern textiles with traditional techniques. 

Faig Ahmed, one of Azerbaijan’s most internationally recognised visual artists, adds a decidedly modern twist to carpet weaving, string art and embroidery. Art Radar spoke with Ahmed to learn more about his most recent riffs on traditional Azerbaijani textiles, and how the artist prevents himself from being held “hostage to tradition”. 

Faig Ahmed. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed (b. 1982, Baku, Azerbaijan) successfully completed his BFA in Sculpture from the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Arts in 2004. In 2013, the artist was shortlisted for the Jameel Prize 3 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Ahmed has exhibited his work throughout the world, including group and solo exhibitions in Europe, India, Hong Kong, New York, Russia and the UAE. His work is part of both private and public collections, such as the Amhem Museum, the Buta Foundation, the Seattle Art Museum and the Yarat Contemporary Art Centre.

Art Radar caught up with Ahmed to learn more about his creative process, what makes the Azerbaijani contemporary art scene unusual, and why he considers himself more of an “explorer” than an artist.

Creating outside of the box

I’ve read that you feel you are “not an artist but an explorer”. Please elaborate on this comment.

To me, an artist is someone who sees the tangible results of his/her ideas reflected in their artwork. You may think that I do the same, but no! The final result itself doesn’t interest me that much. The reality of my art is that it is still very much in the process of research and discovery. I create it and it’s just a part of the global system of art fairs and people’s opinions about each piece.

I’m an explorer, so I’m much more interested in what I unearth through my research. My artworks are just my reports that reflect various periods of my investigations.

Faig Ahmed, "Gravity and Antigravity" installation (in process), 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Gravity and Antigravity’ installation (in process), 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

In 2014, you travelled to India for the first time. Regarding this journey, you said it was “a dream come true”. 

Throughout my life, India has had a great impact on me. I was dreaming about it even as a child. When I was ten, I found a yoga book that mesmerised me. I started practicing and it naturally brought me to Osho and other beautiful practices and philosophies. I even started learning Sanskrit. I dreamed of travelling to India and finding a guru.

So when I eventually travelled there, I thought I’d be prepared, but I was not. India is a place that influences all of your senses at the same time. I mean, if something is dirty, it’s really dirty. If the food is good, then it’s absolutely divine. This happens with everything. I had this experience on my own and had difficulties sharing these feelings with my friends when I returned home. Then, I started observing myself and found out that my best friend (just like when I was ten) is myself. I had to live twenty more years to understand that. Now, I’m ten again and I’m happy.

Has your recent interest in Indian embroidery influenced your artwork? How? 

In Delhi, I started doing my experimental artwork with Indian embroidery and I met two people who have really helped me with that – Valeria Corvo and Mala Shukla. Before my trip to India, all my artistic expression was directed outwards. After I went through the process of learning Indian embroidery, my expression is now internal and directed into myself.

Faig Ahmed. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed. Image courtesy the artist.

How does one make a “liquid” carpet? Do you use local artisans for your work or do all of the work yourself?

I work with a group. Usually there are twenty to 25 people involved in the process. This group experience gives my work vitality and I’m the spark that ignites it.

When I decide to begin a piece, I first talk to the carpet makers and then edit and correct their work alongside my own sketch. Next, my artwork is transferred onto engineering paper. After these preparations, the weaving process begins. As a rule, the process itself is not that easy, and I have to visit the workshop often and make corrections all along the way.

Each work needs a different type of research. For a carpet from the “Fluid Forms” show, for example, I was pouring paint onto the walls to see how different colours blend into each other and flow. For the Geometric series of carpets, I was cutting different shapes from paper to place over the surfaces to see what kinds of shades they create.

Faig Ahmed, 'Rapture', 2010, handmade wool carpet, 100 x 150cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Rapture’, 2010, handmade wool carpet, 100 x 150 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Being held hostage by tradition

Tell us the story behind the carpet upcycled for the Recycled Tradition piece. Have you had the opportunity to send an image of the piece to the woman who sold the carpet to you? If so, what was her reaction? 

The idea of this artwork was born from the depth of the “transformed carpets” concept. Initially, I had done research analysing recycled culture. It was all very impersonal. I started to work four months before production to find the right carpet. What I needed was a 150 to 200-year-old carpet to be cut into the form of a “recycled” symbol.

I was shown different options, but there was only one that caught my attention. I wanted to start cutting it immediately after leaving the workshop, but the carpet seller asked me if I wanted to hear the story of the carpet first. He told me that there are gypsies who buy and resell old carpets. They suggested visiting an old woman in south Azerbaijan who had a beautiful old carpet in perfect condition. Initially, this woman rejected selling it, because she had inherited this carpet from her grandmother and it was the only thing she had taken with her from her father’s house when she got married many years ago. This was a tradition in the old days in Azerbaijan.

This woman couldn’t take anything from her home, because her parents were against her marriage and only her grandmother had supported her, giving her this carpet and helping her run away with her lover. After several visits and after she knew the carpet would be sold to an artist, she agreed to sell it.

I also discovered that this carpet was a Garabakh carpet, which is in another part of Azerbaijan. This lady can’t go there anymore, because this territory is occupied by Armenia and there are armed clashes between the two countries. So, when I took a cutting knife to cut the carpet, I couldn’t do it. Suddenly, I realised that I’m also a hostage of tradition! This story’s impact on me was so huge that I couldn’t destroy this carpet with my own hands.

I then passed it to an art production company to prepare it for me and didn’t tell them how old it was. After the work was done and Recycled Tradition was sent to Holland for the exhibition, I tried to find this lady. She had moved to another city, and that happened all of a sudden. I wanted to talk to her. I spoke to her on the telephone before it was processed and she told me that she wanted to see the result. Maybe she saw the artwork and doesn’t want to talk to me anymore?

Faig Ahmed, 'Recycled', 2014, handmade wool carpet, 140 x 140cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Recycled’, 2014, handmade wool carpet, 140 x 140 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

What did it teach you about being a “hostage to tradition”?

I love being a hostage, because it’s a quiz and you have to take it to set yourself free. I think we are never completely free anyway, but you should exactly know where your own cage ends.

Please tell us a bit about your Embroidery Space installation. What were some of the challenges that you experienced with this installation? Were there any surprises?

Maybe it’s my most interesting artwork, because it can be exactly divided into parts. The first part is totally traditional regarding the rules of composition. Usually my assistants make this part. The second, or freestyle section, is the most spontaneous and unexpected, because I always decide how to do it on-site.

I did this installation in Dubai in 2014 and decided to connect two buildings with threads. It was so difficult to get the permit for that! Eventually we got permission, on the condition that the work could only be done after nine o’clock at night. I had to drink energy drinks to stay up day and night!

The result was amazing: threads were connecting buildings from the roofs to the balconies and back. All the people who worked in this area were totally unprepared for this change in their environment. It was so beautiful until the wind started blowing and the rain started falling – along with the threads.

Faig Ahmed, 'Out', 2014, handmade embroidery silk, gold tread on silk fabric, 100 x 250cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Out’, 2014, handmade embroidery silk, gold thread on silk fabric, 100 x 250 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

What is the inspiration behind the combination of traditional Islamic forms and patterns within your contemporary structures?

Islamic shapes have been developed over many hundreds of years and have reached an apogee of ornament and geometry. Because of this tradition, it’s a huge responsibility to work with such difficult and complex patterns and try to pull a new form out of there.

Brave new world

How would you explain the current Azerbaijani art scene to someone who is new to the country and its creative traditions?

Contemporary art in Azerbaijan is not new, but it is developing and still very fresh. After the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s, most local artists were using abstract and Western art as a model. Today, they try to find their way by looking back to traditional art forms and techniques. Perhaps I have in some small way helped with this transition, as I have curated shows with several young local artists in the recent past.

I think it’s difficult to define the face of contemporary art in Azerbaijan. I like that there are lots of young artists who explore and research the culture and history of our country, in both ancient and contemporary times. There are enormous amounts of resources and energy there.

Faig Ahmed, "Gravity and Antigravity" installation from "Exploring Inward" exhibition at Louise Blouin Foundation, 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Gravity and Antigravity’ installation from the “Exploring Inward” exhibition at Louise Blouin Foundation, 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Is life in contemporary Azerbaijan changing? As an artist, do you feel that it is important to embrace the past, while breaking away from some of the possibly outdated traditions and stereotypes?

You can’t move forward without leaving some parts of tradition and culture behind, but it’s tradition that observes and examines a country.

Azerbaijanis are very flexible. We have been conquered many times and have been a part of different empires, spoken many languages and changed alphabets many times – from Farsi to Arabic, Cyrillic and Latin. At the same time, the majority of the people use traditional elements of home decoration – like carpets – to connect with some kind of cultural ground under their feet.

It’s a delicate balance. You have to be sensitive to changes while keeping your identity and remembering your roots.

Faig Ahmed, "Gravity and Antigravity" installation (detail) from "Exploring Inward" exhibition at Louise Blouin Foundation, 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed, “Gravity and Antigravity” installation (detail) from “Exploring Inward” exhibition at Louise Blouin Foundation, 2014, handmade wool carpet, 120 x 250 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Any interesting stories on how the audience reacts to your work both inside Azerbaijan and abroad?

I like the reaction of kids. They have the most honest and transparent reactions to my art. During one of exhibitions, a boy ten or eleven years old approached my Flood of Yellow Weight carpet and asked his mother if the boy who stained the carpet was punished like he was! I asked the mother if she punished her son for staining the carpet and she answered that she did. I told her that my parents didn’t punish me for doing so, and maybe that’s the reason why I dare to do all these manipulations with the carpets and maybe she has to give him more freedom.

Faig Ahmed, 'Shift', 2014, handmade wool rug with natural colours and threads, stainless steel, 170 x 110 x 100cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Faig Ahmed, ‘Shift’, 2014, handmade wool rug with natural colours and threads, stainless steel, 170 x 110 x 100 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Are there any upcoming shows, exhibitions and biennales where your work is being shown in the next six months?

I will have a solo show in Rome at the Montoro 12 Contemporary Art Gallery in March/April, and in New Delhi in November. I’m also doing an installation during Art Dubai at the Dubai International Financial Centre and am included in a group show at the YARAT Contemporary Art Centre in March. In addition, I am planning solo shows in London and New York this year.

Lisa Pollman

648

Related Topics: art and the community, Azerbaijani artists, carpet art, classic influences in contemporary art, textiles, interviews

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Gutai artist Kazuo Shiraga’s paintings in dialogue with Satoru Hoshino’s ceramics – in pictures



Dominique Lévy gallery in New York features works by two post-war Japanese artists.

From 29 January to 4 April 2015, Dominique Lévy gallery is showing seminal works by postwar Japanese artist Kazuo Shiraga of Gutai, with sculptures by Satoru Hoshino of Sōdeisha, the avant-garde postwar ceramics group. Both artists experiment with new ways of engaging their medium that challenge traditional techniques.

 Kazuo Shiraga, 'Suijū', 1985, oil on canvas, 192.4 x 257.2 cm. Photo courtesy Tom Powel Imaging.

Kazuo Shiraga, ‘Suijū’, 1985, oil on canvas, 192.4 x 257.2 cm. Photo courtesy Tom Powel Imaging.

Entitled “Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino, the show is curated by Koichi Kawasaki, former Director of Ashiya City Museum of Art and History in Japan. Entitled “Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino, the show is curated by Koichi Kawasaki, former Director of Ashiya City Museum of Art and History in Japan.

Between painting and performance

On view are 23 abstract paintings of varying colours, including the foot paintings that Shiraga is known for. The vibrant paintings, spanning from 1959 to 2001, allow the viewer to experience the dynamic energy with which he interacted with his medium. On view are 23 abstract paintings of varying colours, including the foot paintings that Shiraga is known for. The vibrant paintings, spanning from 1959 to 2001, allow the viewer to experience the dynamic energy with which he interacted with his medium.

Installation view of "Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino", 2015. Image courtesy Dominique Lévy gallery.

Installation view of “Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino”, 2015. Image courtesy Dominique Lévy gallery.

 Kazuo Shiraga, 'Tenkosei Kaosho', 1962, oil on canvas, 182 x 273 cm. Photo courtesy Tom Powel Imaging.

Kazuo Shiraga, ‘Tenkosei Kaosho’, 1962, oil on canvas, 182 x 273 cm. Photo courtesy Tom Powel Imaging.

Shiraga and Gutai

According to the press release, Shiraga used “his entire body, including his feet, to performatively manipulate thick layers of pigment.” His renowned piece Challenging Mud (1955) was performed in Tokyo for the 1st Gutai Art Exhibition, where he tackled mud, cement and plaster with his body.

 Kazuo Shiraga in his studio, 1960. Image courtesy Amagasaki Cultural Center.

Kazuo Shiraga in his studio, 1960. Image courtesy Amagasaki Cultural Center.

Shiraga wrote in 1955:

I want to paint as though rushing around a battlefield, exerting myself to collapse from exhaustion.

Kazuo Shiraga, Chijikusei Gotenrai 1961, Oil on canvas. 51 3/16 x 63 3/4 inches (130 x 162 cm) Photo Courtesy Ketterer Kunst

Kazuo Shiraga, ‘Chijikusei Gotenrai’, 1961, oil on canvas, 130 x 162 cm. Photo courtesy Ketterer Kunst.

Kazuo Shiraga, Untitled, 1962, oil on canvas, 91 x 116 cm. Photo courtesy Jan Liegeois.

Kazuo Shiraga, Untitled, 1962, oil on canvas, 91 x 116 cm. Photo courtesy Jan Liegeois.

Although the two artists never met, Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino have in common their innovative approach to art making.

 Installation view of "Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino", 2015. Image courtesy Dominique Lévy Gallery.

Installation view of “Body and Matter: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Satoru Hoshino”, 2015. Image courtesy Dominique Lévy Gallery.

Leaving fingerprints

Hoshino’s nine textured ceramic sculptures on view, dating from 1980 to the 1990s, were created through a process of prodding and shaping the clay with his hands, leaving visible imprints of his fingers in the finished works. Instead of following the Japanese ceramic tradition which removes the artist’s handwork by creating a smooth and refined surface, Hoshino saw his art-making as a collaboration between the artist and clay.

 Satoru Hoshino, 'Surfacing Bird (Flight of W)', 1991, smoked earthenware, 55 × 81 × 17 cm. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging. Image courtesy the artist.

Satoru Hoshino, ‘Surfacing Bird (Flight of W)’, 1991, smoked earthenware, 55 × 81 × 17 cm. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging. Image courtesy the artist.

 Satoru Hoshino, 'Surfacing Flower', 1989, smoked earthenware, 12 × 77.5 × 70 cm. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging. Image courtesy the artist.

Satoru Hoshino, ‘Surfacing Flower’, 1989, smoked earthenware, 12 × 77.5 × 70 cm. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging. Image courtesy the artist.

 Satoru Hoshino, 'Outline of Background IV', 1990, smoked earthenware, 22 × 71.5 × 57cm. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging. Image courtesy the artist.

Satoru Hoshino, ‘Outline of Background IV’, 1990, smoked earthenware, 22 × 71.5 × 57cm. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging. Image courtesy the artist.

 Satoru Hoshino, 'Outline of Background X', 1990, smoked earthenware, 27 × 72 × 58cm. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging. Image courtesy the artist.

Satoru Hoshino, ‘Outline of Background X’, 1990, smoked earthenware, 27 × 72 × 58cm. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging. Image courtesy the artist.

Postwar Japanese art in a global context

In recent years, postwar Japanese artists have piqued the interest of museums and galleries in New York and the United States, leading to pivotal exhibitions at MoMA, entitled “Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde” (2012), and “Gutai: Splendid Playground” (2013) at the Guggenheim in New York.

Both exhibitions, along with Dominique Lévy‘s “Body and Matter”, challenged conventional ways of evaluating artists from different regions and nationalities, leading to the discovery and re-examination of these works in a global context.

During her presentation at the “Gutai as Science Fiction” symposium at the Guggenheim on 12 March 2013, in conjunction with the exhibition “Gutai: Splendid Playground”, Ming Tiampo – the author of Gutai: Decentering Modernism, and the co-curator of the show at the Guggenheim – spoke about the significance of Gutai in re-evaluating how the history of art is exhibited and written:

We are recovering a moment that was not a part of history that was written from the point of view of the West [...] when you hand the agency of history over to the Japanese […] you begin to understand that it’s also about writing and presenting history of art that is both situated and local but tied to a transnational narrative.

 Kazuo Shiraga, 'Iizuminokami-Kanesada', 1962, oil on canvas, 130 x 97 cm. Photo courtesy Tom Powel Imaging

Kazuo Shiraga, ‘Iizuminokami-Kanesada’, 1962, oil on canvas, 130 x 97 cm. Photo courtesy Tom Powel Imaging

More about the artists

Kazuo Shiraga (1924-2008) was born in Amagasaki, Japan. He studied traditional Japanese painting at the Kyoto Municipal Special School of Painting and graduated in 1948. In 1952, he co-founded the Zero Group with Saburo Murakami and Akira Kanayama, and in 1955 joined the Gutai Art Association. At the first Gutai Art Exhibition in Ohara Kaikan, Tokyo 1955, he performed Challenging Mud. His works have been exhibited around the world, including at The Museum of Modern Art in Wakayama, the 2009 Venice Biennale, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and Dallas Museum of Art.

Satoru Hoshino (b. 1945, Niigata Prefecture, Japan) graduated from Ritsumeikan University in 1971. For many years, he was part of the avant-garde, non-functional ceramic movement Sōdeisha. His approach towards his art and medium changed in 1986, when a landslide destroyed his studio. Hoshino’s works are in collections at numerous museums, including The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Musée Ariana, Geneva, Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota.

Upcoming exhibitions on Kazuo Shiraga in the United States

Christine Lee

643

Related Topics: gallery shows, Japanese artists, picture feasts, globalisation of art, art in New York
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Larry’s List Art Collector Report 2014 – review + giveaway



Hong Kong-based website Larry’s List publishes Art Collector Report 2014, the company’s first report on international art collecting. 

The wide-ranging research report draws on the largest private contemporary art collector database in the world, and aims to provide greater transparency in the market.

Art Radar has THREE copies of the Larry’s List Art Collector Report 2014 to give away. Please scroll down for details.

Larry's List Art Collectors Report 2014 report cover: Boo Ritson, 'Monique', 2009, archival digital print on Somerset paper, 101.6 x 78.05cm, unframed. Image courtesy the Poppy Sebire Gallery Ltd, the artist and the Burger Collection, Hong Kong. Photography by Andy Crawford.

Larry’s List ‘Art Collector Report 2014′ cover: Boo Ritson, ‘Monique’, 2009, archival digital print on Somerset paper, 101.6 x 78.05 cm, unframed. Photography by Andy Crawford. Image courtesy the Poppy Sebire Gallery Ltd, the artist and the Burger Collection, Hong Kong.

In January 2015, Larry’s List published its first research report on international art collectors compiled from data they have been collecting since 2012. Founded by Magnus Resch and Christoph Noe, the Hong Kong-based company has created a database of over 3,000 collectors from more than seventy countries. The report is a comprehensive analysis of the collected data conducted in association with the University of Zurich.

About Larry’s List

Larry’s List is an online database consisting of profiles of the most powerful art collectors from around the world. The website targets all arts professionals, and helps them expand their client base and grow their networks internationally. Forbes reported in 2013:

Put together by a team of 25 art market researchers who scoured 27,000 sources based around the world, Larry’s List claims to be the most comprehensive global research carried out on art collections.

The brains behind Larry’s List include Magnus Resch and Christoph Noe, Director at The Ministry of Art Ltd in Hong Kong. The company is headquartered in Hong Kong.

Portrait of Magnus Resch. Image courtesy Larry’s List Ltd.

Portrait of Magnus Resch. Image courtesy Larry’s List Ltd.

A timely publication

Published in January 2015, the Report provides an in-depth analysis of data collected by the company since 2012. The publication is timely, according to the Report, because of the increasing influence of private collectors around the globe. The foreword reads:

[...] only very little published information has documented the art collector scene, and private collectors remain surprisingly under-researched. Indeed, the limited information available is in inverse proportion to the influence this sector now wields. Private collectors are taking over the role of public institutions in the ownership, preservation, and exhibition of artworks and also in arts education. It is now common for private art collections to outshine public art collections, and nowhere is this better illustrated than at art auctions.

Methodology

The Report analyses the global art collector scene by breaking down the private art collector scene via region, art collection particulars and the collector’s individual characteristics. It then takes on a regional approach, and investigates continental and country perspectives, looking closely at the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Ultimately, the Report seeks to answer a few important questions:

  • Who are these private contemporary art collectors?
  • How many are there?
  • Where do they live?
  • What artists do they collect?
  • What is their business background?
  • How actively are they involved in museums?

Art Radar has THREE copies of the Larry’s List Art Collector Report 2014 to give away. Please scroll down for details.

Rise of the art collector

Before moving on to a summary of key findings of the report, it would be helpful to first elucidate the definition of an art collector according to Larry’s List. According to the Report, collectors who form part of the study fulfill four criteria:

  • The collection’s focus must be on contemporary art
  • The collection must contain a critical number of artworks
  • The collector must be alive and still active in the art market
  • There must be a public footprint and visibility in regard to his or her collecting activities

Based on these criteria, the Report estimates that there are around 4,000 to 5,000 such ‘visible’ collectors worldwide. The Report also estimates that there are an equal number of ‘invisible’ collectors without a public footprint, whose acquisitions are not a matter of public knowledge. Hence, there is a total of about 8,000 to 10,000 high net worth collectors worldwide. The Report states:

The sheer dominance of this global group of art collectors is such that it shapes the market, set[s] trends, impact[s] price developments, and influenc[es] public perception and institutions.

Larry’s List World Map. Image courtesy Larry’s List Ltd.

Larry’s List World Map. Image courtesy Larry’s List Ltd.

Summary of key findings

Here are a few findings and predictions from the report:

  • Europe has the largest share of art collectors worldwide (38%), followed by North America (28%) and Asia (18%). Meanwhile, the US scene is the biggest in the world, larger than the German, British and Chinese scenes combined, hosting 25% of global collectors.
  • Nearly a quarter of all collectors worldwide live in one of the following five cities: New York, London, Sao Paulo, Los Angeles and Paris.
  • The average age of a collector is 59 years. 71% of them are male. 12% own a private museum, 12% share their collections via online webpages and 37% are actively engaged in public art institutions (e.g. advisory boards, committee members or trustees).
  • The number of collectors in developing countries will increase rapidly in the coming years. Also, in developing countries, private contemporary art museums will assume the responsibility of public museums.
  • Major art collectors will further impose their own characteristics on the art world, and collectors will gain even more influence in public museums.

Zooming in on Asia

Specifically on Asia, the Report reveals the following:

  • Beijing is the largest collector city in Asia, with a share of 14% of Asian collectors. Seoul (12%) comes second and Singapore (7%) third.
  • Within China, Beijing tops the list with a 41% share of collectors. Hong Kong comes second at 16%, Taipei third at 14% and Shanghai fourth at 11%.
  • The Chinese collector base emerged only recently. 45% of the collections were founded between 2001 and 2010, and 5% after 2010.
  • India’s art collectors are younger than average, with 36% under 41 years of age.
  • As wealth in China dramatically increases, collectors are increasingly supporting their own art superstars. Just like the US in the past, where the the most powerful collectors created the most-hyped artists, the new generation of superstar artists is likely to come from China.

Transparency in the art market

Apart from other interesting facts and findings, including ‘Top 10 Artists in Collections’ lists for important regions and countries, and comprehensive case studies and profiles on private museums, the Report also includes quotes from collectors and in-depth collector interviews. For the Asia section, Hong Kong collector William Lim was featured.

Ultimately, the Report aims to increase transparency on one of the most elusive markets in the world. Co-publisher Magnus Resch explains in the press release:

The report gives insights into the world’s art collector scene for the first time. [...] It underpins the belief in the importance of the private art collector cohort and sets a starting point for providing some transparency on one of the most powerful driving forces in the art market today.

Michele Chan

645

How to win the book giveaway

Art Radar has THREE copies of the Larry’s List Art Collector Report 2014 to give away! Here’s how to participate:

Step 1: Share this article on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag us.

Facebook: @Art Radar Asia (https://www.facebook.com/artradar)

Twitter: @ArtRadar (https://twitter.com/ArtRadar)

Instagram: @artradarjournal (http://instagram.com/artradarjournal/)

Step 2: Email hello.artradar@gmail.com with ‘March 2015 Book Giveaway’ in the subject line and your full name and postal address in the email body by 15 March 2015.

Winners will be chosen after the submission deadline through a draw of lots. Good luck!

 

Related Topics: collectors, reports, market transparency, market watch, art and the internet, resource alert

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15 Facebook groups and pages for curators



Art Radar finds out more about networking for curators on Facebook.

Social networks are a key element of not only our contemporary personal lives, but also pivotal aspects of our ever-expanding professional spheres. Art Radar explores Facebook to find the best platforms available for curators.

Synapse website. Screenshot by Art Radar.

Synapse website. Screenshot by Art Radar.

Facebook Groups

1. Synapse – The International Curators’ Network at Haus der Kulturen der Welt

33 members | closed group

Synapse is a virtual and real-world networking platform for international up-and-coming curators which aims to connect new generations of curators, providing an impetus to set up art projects and trigger cooperation. The biannual network meetings take place at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Speakers at these meetings include international curators, scientists, artists, art historians, critics and other experts that provide insights into the curatorial field between art and science. Participants are connected to the vibrant Berlin art scene through visits to galleries, museums, and project and exhibition spaces.

2. Artists – Curators

4,032 members | closed group

The group is for artists who also curate, either as co-curators or independently, and for curators who make and exhibit art. Everyone involved in the art community is welcome to the group, including collectors, critics and writers, dealers, museum professionals or just followers. The group is meant to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas, to post items of interest such as news about exhibits, fairs or other art events, and to add links to shows, reviews, calls for submission or portfolios of work. Members can also post questions and opinions on topics relating to the making of exhibitions of contemporary art.

3. Curator & Artist Orhan Cebrailoglu Art Center // OAC

3,391 members | closed group

The Orhan Cebrailoglu Art Center – OAC is run by Professor Orhan Cebrailoglu, an associate professor at Selcuk University Faculty of Fine Art in Konya, Turkey. The workshop culminates with an exhibition and welcomes international participants. The Facebook group provides a platform for networking among the various participants of the workshop.

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art website. Screenshot by Art Radar.

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art website. Screenshot by Art Radar.

4. ARTISTS++CURATORS++GALLERIES++ARTS

577 members | public group

This is a group founded by artists, curators and galleries to exchange news and links on contemporary art events across the world, artists and practices, and everything related to contemporary art. It is a public group and everyone can join in the conversation.

5. 4a Curators Intensive 2014

18 members | closed group

4A’s Curators’ Intensive is an initiative developed by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art to encourage professional advancement amongst early career Australian cultural practitioners with an interest in curatorial practice. The Intensive is held annually. This Facebook group was set up for participants of the 2014 edition.

6. MA Curating the Art Museum 2014-15

13 members | closed group

This group is dedicated to the students of London’s Courtauld Institute of Art‘s MA in Curating the Art Museum (2014-2015). Hence, it is a closed group for exchange among the participants in the course. More information on the MA programme can be found here.

Node Center for Curatorial Studies - Berlin website. Screenshot by Art Radar.

Node Center for Curatorial Studies – Berlin website. Screenshot by Art Radar.

Facebook Pages

7. Asian Curatorial Network

230 followers

The Asian Curatorial Network is the inaugural network for curators of Asian art. The Forum organised in Hong Kong by the Network addresses the specificities of curating Asian art in Asia. This page offers a way to keep up to date with a variety of curatorial projects all over Asia and a chance to network with curators and discuss practices, projects and other issues relevant to the Asian experience.

8. Node Centre for Curatorial Studies – Berlin

10,563 followers

Node Center for Curatorial Studies is a platform to teach, experiment with and investigate subjects related to curatorial studies and contemporary art practices. The Facebook page provides updates on the current courses available both at the centre and online. The centre also posts interesting articles and links for curators.

9. Journal of Curatorial Studies

2,986 followers

The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication. On the Facebook page, the Journal posts abstracts from its current issue, as well as images and snippets of art news relevant to its articles and essays.

Curator - The Museum Journal website. Screenshot by Art Radar.

Curator – The Museum Journal website. Screenshot by Art Radar.

10. Curatorial Studies Venice

2,424 followers

Corso Curatori in Venice, Italy, aims to spread knowledge in the field of visual arts and introduce the students to professions related to the art world by focusing on contemporary curatorial theory and practice as well as contemporary museology. The students gain practical experience in the art of curating and learn how to think critically about the issues involved. The Facebook page provides updates on the ongoing course and future editions, as well as other relevant links.

11. iscp – International Studio and Curatorial Program

7,970 followers

ISCP is a nonprofit residency-based contemporary art centre for emerging to mid-career artists and curators from around the world. On the Facebook page, the centre posts updates on their residents, as well as links to exhibitions and projects undertaken by their alumni around the world.

12. Brusselssprout Curatorial Magazine

670 followers

Brusselssprout is a curatorial magazine on contemporary thinking and emergent art from Dubai. On the page, there are links to a variety of projects in Dubai and the Gulf.

The Street Art Curator website. Screenshot by Art Radar.

The Street Art Curator website. Screenshot by Art Radar.

13. CRUMB – The Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss

703 followers

CRUMB, founded in 2000 at the University of Sunderland UK by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook, is an online resource to share knowledge about the production, exhibition and distribution of new media art. Its activities revolve around curating, research, publishing, networking and professional development. The Page posts interesting links regarding its activities and other curatorial projects in new media art.

14. Curator – The Museum Journal

984 followers

Curator – The Museum Journal is a peer-reviewed journal written by and for museum professionals. On the Facebook page, there are regularly-posted links relevant to curatorial and museum practice.

15. The Street Art Curator

62,216 followers

Based in Sydney, Australia, TSAC wants to help street artists gain international exposure. Anyone can participate by sending them images of street art anywhere in the world, which will in turn be posted on their Facebook page. It is a great place to go for curators that are interested in street art and are looking out for international talent. The page can also be of general interest for everyone to see some exciting photos of how street artists worldwide are ‘beautifying’ our increasingly concrete world.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Mike Tsang on using photography to explore the British Born Chinese community – interview



A curated project uses visual culture and history to explore questions of dichotomy and identity among British Born Chinese.

“Between East and West” is an ongoing project by Mike Tsang exploring the heritage and identity of the British Born Chinese through photographic portraits, archival imagery and oral history interviews.

The exhibition features ten photographic portraits and Oral History text boards

The exhibition “Between East and West” by Mike Tsang at LSE features ten photographic portraits and Oral History text boards. Image courtesy the author.

Between East and West” is on view at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) from 23 February to 1 April 2015. According to the project’s website, it is a documentation of the stories and personal legacies of “a group of diverse individuals originating from Chinese diasporas before making their home in Britain.”

Mike Tsang is a London-based documentary photographer and oral historian who specialises in cultural anthropology projects. Art Radar talks to Tsang about his practice and influences as well as the perception of British Born Chinese and Chinese Diasporas in the United Kingdom.

Zoe Chan pictured in her pop-up architectural space. Image courtesy the author.

Photography by Mike Tsang. Zoe Chan pictured in her pop-up architectural space. Image courtesy the author.

How did this project begin?

If I think about the germination of the project, it came from when I was at school, being interested in my background, questioning how much I fit into my culture and the culture of my parents. I went to school in North West London with many second generation children of immigrants from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. What I noticed was a lot of people were not from a British Born Chinese background and that most people can identify with the feeling of being displaced or between two cultures. It was not a struggle, but a challenge growing up. I wanted to be British when I was younger, to be the status quo; then I wanted to celebrate the difference as I got older. British Born Chinese is different to this dichotomy.

I thought it would be interesting to do a project on this tension. I didn’t realise how small the British Born Chinese community was or how intertwined [it is] in the UK. There are a few people involved in the project who are from the arts and I didn’t think they would know each other, but they did.

Next time, I don’t think I’d profile people of a similar industry. I tried to find people with interesting stories and who represented the British Born Chinese community. This was quite tricky as essentially you are trying to curate a group of people, fifteen in the end, as well as curating a project.

Who and what are your creative influences? Was your background and heritage a key influence behind the concept of this project?

One creative influence has been the Shoah Foundation, a Steven Spielberg charity run by the University of Southern California (USC) in America. They document the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, taking oral histories, making them accessible and visually pleasing through a vast database. It’s great compared to other oral history projects that are a lot of work, becoming a huge academic resource, but without the visual aesthetic. Coming from a photography and design background, I wanted to bridge that gap. Often, oral history projects are only seen by the people involved or the given community. I wanted to go beyond this.

Lord Nat Wei pictured in the House of Lords. Image courtesy the author.

Photography by Mike Tsang. Lord Nat Wei pictured in the House of Lords. Image courtesy the author.

Do you see yourself as having a particular style?

The photography I do for this project… I see [it] as environmental portraiture. In terms of style, you do get some photographers that impose their own style. I like bringing out the personality of the subject and their environment. I use that in other projects and shoots, and it is the same as my interview technique. I try to make them feel at ease, so that their personality can come out in the portrait rather than over directing it to make an over-posed photograph that is not representative of that person.

Could you tell me more about your creative practice?

It is a great pleasure being able to have the funding for this project. It changes your practice as you have creative freedom, but at the same time I have to project manage it whilst considering educational and outreach aims. You have to separate the practice from the project management part, where there is not as much social value. All practitioners have this experience and really the project can’t just exist in a bubble.

Is the project going to continue on from when it was started in 2012?

I’d love to continue it and take it to other places. I feel I would have to include histories from those places too. The question is, would it achieve more than it does now as a database and archive? I would rather show it again to get more reactions from the public, to see more of how they would interact with the stories. I could make this happen through more workshops, much like the ones I’m excited to be facilitating at LSE.

I’m currently working on a new project with the Southbank area in London: interviewing, photographing and documenting the stories of artists, artisans and traders who have created the history of that area. It’s called “Southbank Stories”. We’re currently looking for more stories from people who have worked in that area.

Is there a stylistic theme as part of “Between East and West”? It could be seen as a documentary project rather than ‘fine art’.

It is definitely a documentary. It has roots in a few different media such as photography, audio and texts. It is definitely not fine art.

Don Mei and father pictured in their teahouse in Camden. Image courtesy the author.

Photography by Mike Tsang. Don Mei and father pictured in their teahouse in Camden. Image courtesy the author.

What role do the archival imagery and written interviews have as part of the exhibition?

What’s interesting for me is that each aspect is a way for the audience to understand a little bit more about British Born Chinese. I was really happy when viewers wanted to find out more. As part of the project, I asked for family photographs from each of the interviewees. I reproduced them, where possible trying to use similar paper stocks to achieve the same print, aging them, even getting them printed on different size formats.

It feels quite nostalgic when they are there in front of you. When people picked them up, the photographs acted as an icebreaker to speak to people they didn’t know and to think about British Born Chinese.

What makes this exhibition ‘ground-breaking’ as stated in the press release?

I feel British Born Chinese is a culture in itself. Ultimately, this depends on how you define a culture. British Born Chinese is not Mainland Chinese. I feel that British culture thinks that if you look Chinese, you are from Mainland China. Obviously, some Chinese culture is passed down to the Chinese diaspora; [but] for example, my parents have never been to China. They have inherited rituals and traditions from their parents that they associate with China. That’s a personal choice, too, as to how you define yourself through this inheritance.

This is the first project I know of that is British Born Chinese-focused; other projects are British Chinese (defined as born in China or of Chinese descent), whereas I wanted to focus on the second generation of the Chinese in Britain. I wanted to create an oral history project that was partly academic anthropology that will attract the public, which I don’t think happens very often.

How do you think the British Born Chinese and Chinese Diasporas are perceived in the UK?

I think people lump all the Chinese Diasporas into one community. It would be great for people to understand the nuances between, say, the Confucius, Shanghainese, etc. One interesting thing about the exhibition was that viewers didn’t really know any British Born Chinese or have Chinese friends. Now they can have access to this wealth of history.

Today, British Born Chinese and the Chinese diaspora is a young, culturally diverse community coming from and learning from the first generation – a largely economic migrant community, who work to survive. Here, it gets a little political, as there are very few British Born Chinese role models in the UK, such as within popular culture and politics, where currently there are no elective representatives. The exhibition is saying, “We are here in the UK”, whilst celebrating that we can have more of an impact.

It was said that the exhibition “put a face to a community”. There aren’t spaces in London that look at Asian communities like this. They are still often represented through an exoticism of Asia, rather than being seen as vibrant contemporary art.

Reproduced archive family photographs from the ten interviewees will be strewn around the exhibition. Image courtesy the author.

Reproduced archive family photographs from the ten interviewees will be strewn around the exhibition “Between East and West” by Mike Tsang. Image courtesy the author.

What is your view of contemporary China today?

I haven’t been to China for a number of years. I’m not sure how to answer this, as it takes away from British Born Chinese as a culture, which is what this project is about. I’d much rather concentrate on how British Born Chinese people can pull the best from both Chinese and British culture whilst creating a third culture wholly their own.

Could you talk more about the idea of the “third culture” you mention? 

British Born Chinese form a “third culture” different from British and Chinese culture. This is also an academic issue about the documentation of cultural roots. How can you define it? I let the interviews talk for themselves. I hope that, when people read and listen to the interviews, they see the stories, the histories, the futures, and that they see an overall culture that comes from British Born Chinese. That’s my hope.

Rachel Marsden

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Edvard Munch Art Award returns after 10-year hiatus



Norwegian contemporary art award returns with a revamped edition.

The Edvard Munch Art Award has announced its return in late 2015 at the Munch Museum in Oslo, with a renewed structure providing prize money, a guest residency and an exhibition for the winner, as well as a broader scope including art from Asian countries.

Edvard Munch photographed in his open-air studio at Skrubben, 1911. Photo: A.F. Johansen. From the Munch Museum archive. Image courtesy the Munch Museum.

Edvard Munch photographed in his open-air studio at Skrubben, 1911. Photo: A.F. Johansen. From the Munch Museum archive. Image courtesy the Munch Museum.

The Edvard Munch Art Award is set to return in 2015 after a hiatus of almost ten years. The Award aims to facilitate exchange in international contemporary art, as well as highlight and recognise the significance and influence of the Norwegian Modern master Edvard Munch (1863-1944).

Awarded for the first time on the artist’s birthday on 12 December, the revamped biennial prize will include a reward of NOK500,000 (USD66,000), a guest residency in Oslo and an exhibition of the winner’s work at the Munch Museum. The Award is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and presented by the Munch Museum in partnership with Statoil – Norway’s oil and gas multinational, which provides the prize money – and Stiftelsen Edvard Munchs Atelier.

Statoil, which had its own art award, will be now concentrating on providing support and resources for the newly reinstated Edvard Munch Art Award. The company’s vice president of media relations Jannik Lindbæk said:

We intend for this to be a highly regarded award that will support artists in developing their talent to create great art.

A broader scope, expanding East

The director of the Munch Museum, Stein Olav Henrichsen, was quoted by The Art Newspaper as saying that the budget for the next ten years of the award has been secured, and that he wants a jury composed of international experts

with knowledge on the art scene in China, India and other Eastern countries. It is very important not to focus too much on Europe and the US when looking for candidates.

Portrait of Edvard Munch, 1926. Photo: Krameyer, Wiesbaden. From the Munch Museum archive. Image courtesy the Munch Museum.

Portrait of Edvard Munch, 1926. Photo: Krameyer, Wiesbaden. From the Munch Museum archive. Image courtesy the Munch Museum.

Meanwhile, international Munch expert and curator Dieter Buchhart is delighted to see the rebirth of the Award honouring the Norwegian master, but thinks that it should include a main award as well as one for an up-and-coming artist. He comments, as quoted by The Art Newspaper:

the problem with such prizes is that, in order to make it known, an established artist has to receive it, but less well-known artists need it more.

Nevertheless, the return of the Award is welcomed with great expectation. OCA’s new director since 2014, Katya García-Antón, told The Art Newspaper that “it is good to see that the award will have a continuation.”

The Award’s history

Originally called “Edvard Munch Award for Contemporary Art”, the prize was initiated and developed in 2004-2005 by OCA, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, a foundation created by the Norwegian Ministries of Culture and of Foreign Affairs to develop cultural collaboration projects between Norway and the international arts scene. The Award was founded while curator Ute Meta Bauer was Director of OCA and was awarded only during her tenure – two editions, in 2005 and 2006. When Marta Kuzma became the head of OCA, the prize disappeared without any explanation.

Previous award winners are German artist, writer and curator Alice Creischer (2006), and Indian artist and filmmaker Amar Kanwar (2005).

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

642

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William Lim: Collecting Hong Kong – Artshare video



Architect, artist and collector shares his views about collecting Hong Kong art. 

In a recent video interview produced by Artshare, Hong Kong architect, artist and collector William Lim talks about his passion for collecting art from his home city, Hong Kong’s place in the global art scene and his recent book The No Colors.

William Lin in the Artshare video interview. Screenshot by Art Radar.

William Lim in the Artshare video interview. Screenshot by Art Radar.

Artshare‘s short video interview with one of the most important figures in the Hong Kong art scene comes at a time when the art world is shifting its focus to Hong Kong. March 2015 will feature Art Basel in Hong Kong and the launch of a new art fair, Art Central. International art professionals, collectors and artists will flock to the metropolis to mingle, lecture, promote, sell and collect art. That is when the city will come alive for a week of intense art happenings and events across various locations, from Kowloon to Central and Wong Chuk Hang.

William Lim is an architect, art collector and artist from Hong Kong. As an architect, he heads CL3, his own architecture and design firm in Hong Kong. Lim has also participated in the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2006 and 2010, as well as in the Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture in 2007 and 2009.

As an art collector, Lim is one of the most significant figures in Hong Kong contemporary art. Lim was Co-chairman of the non-profit space Para Site, and is still on the Gallery Advisory Committee of the Asia Society, a Board member of Asia Art Archive and serves on the Asia Pacific Acquisition Committee for the Tate in London.

 

Finding a focus: Hong Kong art

Finding that his collection somewhat lacked a certain focus, Lim decided to concentrate on art from a particular area. About a decade ago, in 2005, he started focusing on and collecting Hong Kong art:

[A] few years ago, I started to think that maybe my collection needs to have a certain focus. At the time I found that Hong Kong art – there was really no market, and there was really no focus, nobody [was] focusing on their work.

Apart from the affinity that Lim felt with artists from his own city, Lim finds that

[…] their work is very personal, very affordable, and that’s when I really decided that maybe that should be what I focus on.

The architect as collector

As an architect, Lim’s collection is visibly inspired by his professional interests and tendencies. He tells Artshare:

I work as an architect, [...] even from my education, we learn how to think about things conceptually, so for me it’s very easy to appreciate contemporary art that is very concept driven. I would say that has really been the springboard for the way I look at artwork and the way I collect.

Lim likes art that “doesn’t need much explanation”, but rather “you can look at it” and get an idea of what the artist is trying to express. Architecture also influences themes that are of interest for his own collection:

[…] my collection also tend[s] to be very much about space, or about time, which I also deal with very much within my profession.

Nadim Abbas, "Zone (1)", 2014, lightweight concrete casts, robotic vacuum cleaner, rug, skirting board, house paint, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Nadim Abbas, “Zone (1)”, 2014, lightweight concrete casts, robotic vacuum cleaner, rug, skirting board, house paint, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

The process of collecting

Lim started collecting emerging artists when he decided to focus on Hong Kong:

I like to collect very young artists’ work, so a lot of time it is really based on intuition.

Visiting graduation shows, he would select artists that he found interesting and collect their works. For Lim, it is important to follow an artist throughout his or her career:

[…] it’s very interesting to see then the artist start to develop, and then you see more and more of their work at shows and working with galleries and all that. I also find that it is very important to really not collect a piece here and a piece there, but to really follow the career of an artist.

In an interview with The Ministry of Art’s Christoph Noe, Lim says about collecting: “In my opinion collecting is almost like going on a journey. It is always open-ended.

The shadow of Chinese art

Lim agrees that Hong Kong artists are overshadowed by mainland China’s art market, but he says “that it is not necessarily a bad thing.” He explains:

I have seen a boom and bust situation for mainland Chinese artists. There are some artists that got too commercial, and in a way they have pretty much disappeared from the art scene. So in a way I think it’s a good lesson to learn for the Hong Kong artists.

For Lim, an artist doesn’t need to attain success overnight: a career is better developed slowly, over the course of years of creative work. In Hong Kong, the contemporary art scene didn’t really start until about ten years ago, so most artists are still quite young:

a lot of them are still in their early or mid-thirties, so they still have a long career to go.

Hong Kong’s art, therefore, has a bright future, with a growing number of young and mid-career artists who are recognised internationally and have innovative, cutting-edge practices. This includes artists in Lim’s collection such as Nadim Abbas, Lee Kit and Kwan Sheung-Chi, among others.

The No Colors William Lim book cover. Image courtesy The Ministry of Art.

‘The No Colors – William Lim’ book cover. Image courtesy The Ministry of Art.

Promoting Hong Kong art

In 2014, Lim published The No Colors, a comprehensive book showcasing his entire private collection of Hong Kong art, including artists such as Nadim Abbas, Tang Kwok Hin, Tsang Kin-Wah, Lee Kit, Tozer Pak, Kwan Sheung-Chi, Ho Sin Tung, Lam Tung-Pang, Wong Wai-Yin, Kacey Wong, Morgan Wong, and more.

Publishing a book on his private collection was not a casual move: Lim wanted to promote Hong Kong artists at a pivotal time of transition from private to public collections. According to him, museums and other institutions are starting to collect more and more Hong Kong artists, placing them on the international radar.

Moving forward, I think some of the major work probably will start to go to museums, and maybe this was a very good time for me to introduce some Hong Kong artists to the world. And then, based on that, I think more and more people are starting to have an interest in Hong Kong art.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: Hong Kong artistsart collectors, videos, interviews, promoting art, art in Hong Kong

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