Art Radar City Meet up | A Look Into Contemporary Chinese Ink: an afternoon tour of three galleries | Hong Kong | 2014



Take a private tour of three contemporary Chinese ink shows on now in Hong Kong.

Art Radar invites you to join us for another popular City Meet Up on 3 May 2014. We will lead you on a private tour of contemporary Chinese ink art now on show at three influential galleries in the Pedder Building of Hong Kong.

Master of the Water Pine and Stone Retreat, “Recalling the World of the Isubstantial Hermit”, 2013, Signed and Dated ‘December 2013’, with three seals of the artist, ink and colour on cloud-dragon paper, 78x70cm. Image courtesy Ben Brown Gallery.

Master of the Water Pine and Stone Retreat, “Recalling the World of the Isubstantial Hermit”, 2013, Signed and Dated ‘December 2013’, with three seals of the artist, ink and colour on cloud-dragon paper, 78x70cm. Image courtesy Ben Brown Gallery.

For more than two millennia, ink has been the most important medium in Chinese painting and calligraphy. Since the 1980s, however, use of the medium has evolved fast and today what we call “Contemporary Chinese Ink Painting” can include works by artists who are not Chinese and in mediums “beyond the brush”.

These developments have been noticed and have spurred museum shows of historic importance, culminating in the The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China” less than six months ago in New York.

“Interest in contemporary Chinese ink painting, the age-old tradition that is currently undergoing a renaissance, has never been greater. (…)The market is sitting up and taking notice, and there is even talk of ink being ‘the new contemporary Chinese art’ – attracting a rush of collectors.” The Art Newspaper

It is rare that three of the most important galleries in Hong Kong are showing – side by side and at the same time – artists who are significant players in the evolution of the fascinating story of contemporary Chinese Ink.

Cai Xiaosong, "Planet", 2009, Ink on silk, 100x100cm. Image courtesy Ben Brown.

Cai Xiaosong, “Planet”, 2009, Ink on silk, 100x100cm. Image courtesy Ben Brown. 

The three galleries included in this tour take us on a journey through time, and we can see how the fresh perspectives of contemporary artists have their roots in more traditional works by mid-career and older artists.

“Meditations in Nature: New Ink” by Ben Brown Fine Arts is exhibiting works of ten contemporary artists.

“Spiritual as the Mountain” by Pearl Lam showcases seven Chinese contemporary artists born between 1942-1968 who are inspired by the spirituality of nature and Chinese tradition through a range of mediums. Many of these artists are exhibiting in Hong Kong for the first time.

“Three Elders: Luis Chan, Gaylord Chan and Chu Hing Wah” by Hanart TZ is presenting three Elders also known as the “Masters of Hong Kong”.

You will also learn more about the pivotal contribution made by artists from Hong Kong, a place that has been described as “the cradle” of contemporary Chinese ink.

Chinese ink art – both traditional and contemporary – can be demanding and requires connoisseurship for full appreciation.  You will have a chance to ask questions about the artists and their works and chat with a curator or representative at each gallery.

This tour will be followed by tea or drinks at a nearby local hotel: a chance to meet other readers and fellow art enthusiasts. The event will low key and intimate – a great opportunity to network with other art enthusiasts and form collaborations and new friendships.

This is a rare chance to get an overview of contemporary Chinese Ink Painting at a significant time in its development.

Meet Up details:
  • Date: Saturday 3 May 2014

  • Time: 4pm Tour

  • Followed by drinks and a chat at a nearby hotel at 5.30-6pm (venue to be decided)

  • Cost: HKD200 (HKD100 concessions- contact Claire Bouchara at email below)

(Note: this fee will go to Art Radar for organising the event. Drinks after the event to be paid by attendees.)

 

SIGN UP HERE 

Any questions, please contact Kate Evans on kateevans88@yahoo.com (+852 61030470) or Claire Bouchara on clairebouchara.artradar@gmail.com

We are looking forward to seeing you and feel free to bring guests and friends.

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Chinese contemporary art – where to find the most up-to-date news



How to keep abreast of the Chinese contemporary art scene, according to curator and academic Rachel Marsden.

From blogs to Tumblrs and beyond, the world of online self-publishing is one of the best places to find up-to-date news on Chinese contemporary art. We bring you the best sites to follow right now.

Yang Yongliang, 'Waxing crescent moon', 2012, "The Moonlight", digital print, 90 x 90 cm. Image courtesy mc2gallery.

Yang Yongliang, ‘Waxing crescent moon’, 2012, “The Moonlight” series, digital print, 90 x 90 cm. Image courtesy mc2gallery.

Following on from “The top online resources for Chinese contemporary art – curator Rachel Marsden’s tips” and “Chinese contemporary art according to Instagram – curator Rachel Marsden on who to follow now“, the final in this series of articles focuses on Chinese contemporary art news as it happens – the world of self-publishing websites including blogs, WordPress and Tumblr sites. The sixteen stated below are the “where to go” reads to keep up-to-date with Chinese contemporary art and its place globally, culturally, socially and economically.

Alternative Archive

Written by curator, editor, artist and designer Ou Ning, this archival blog shows Ou’s cultural practice across various disciplines and his endeavours as an activist. He is founder of U-thèque, an independent film and video organisation, and Bishan Commune, an intellectual group who devote themselves to the rural reconstruction movement in China.

不知道 i don’t know – escdotdot

Beijing writer and critic Edward Sanderson provides critical perspectives and research on the China’s contemporary art and music scenes, or in Sanderson’s terms, “intangible cultural activity.” Currently, Sanderson is based in the UK, but maintains an interest in the intersection of social, political and artistic practices in China.

Iona Whittaker

Beijing-based art critic and editor Iona Whittaker runs a professional archive, supplemented by her personal experiences of the Beijing art scene. Originally from London, Whittaker first came to Beijing in early 2009 and is the editor at Randian, the only independent magazine for creative culture in China. Her writing, interviews and exhibition reviews also appear in print and online worldwide.

Border Studies

Compiled by Samantha Culp, Border Studies encompasses everything from art to film, aesthetics to anxieties. It is a blog of “visual inspiration” and “cultural remixing” from Asia, taken from Culp’s original project and website New Territories, an experimental studio for research and production based in Shanghai, China.

Photography of China

An archive and resource blog established in 2011 by French PhD researcher Marine Cabos who is based at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London. The site is a collection of photographs by Chinese and non-Chinese artists that aims to look at the role that photography plays in shaping China’s image whilst trying to avoid discussions as to what actually constitutes “Chinese” photography.

Shenzhen Noted

A hidden gem of a blog that focuses on the Southern China city of Shenzhen, mapping, both visually and textually, the city’s shifting cultural landscapes, historic contexts, urban transformations and emerging “cosmographies”.

Rachel Marsden

By transcultural curator, arts writer, lecturer and researcher Rachel Marsden, this blog provides honest and open accounts of Marsden’s professional, cultural and day-to day experiences in the world of Chinese contemporary art.

theWanderlister+

JJ. Acuna, Founder and Editor of theWanderlister+, is an architect and interior designer, and here a style blogger where his posts show his likes and experiences from Hong Kong, China.

Asian Art Museum Blog

Compiled by the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, one of the world’s largest museums devoted to Asian art and culture, but specifically run by the Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, this blog provides everything from historical research perspectives on Asian art through to the contemporary movement.

Asia Society Tumblr

The Tumblr site for Asia Society reveals insights into the global non-profit educational institution, which has sites in New York, Hong Kong and Houston, and affiliated offices around the world.

ArtAsiaPacific Blog

Set up in January 2011, ArtAsiaPacific’s blog runs in parallel with their print magazine, covering contemporary art and culture from Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East.

Beijing Cream – A Dollop of China

As its name suggests, this site provides “a dollop of China” online. Accessible, easy to read and diverse in content, there is something for everyone.

Tea Leaf Nation

An e-magazine founded in December 2011 as a resource for China experts “of all stripes” from journalists to academics, economists to educators. Another easy-read resource where they scour social media to spot everyday trends, which they then delve into in more detail.

Sinosphere: Dispatches from ChinaThe New York Times

The China blog of The New York Times, delivering both intimate and authoritative discussion and debate on China’s culture, economy and politics and its relationship with the rest of the world.

China Real Time Report - Wall Street Journal

Called a “resource for an expanding global community”, here the Wall Street Journal, like The New York Times (above) and The Economist (below), keeps up with China as it changes minute-by-minute. Providing more economic and societal based perspectives, the site also draws on the insights of journalists who focus on specific topics, including law, policy, economics and culture.

Analects ChinaThe Economist

Insights into China’s politics, business, society and culture from multi-voices at The Economist. Defined as “an allusion to Confucius, the name means ‘things gathered up’ or ‘literary fragments’.”

Rachel Marsden

Related Topics: Chinese art, art resources, resource alert, lists, art and the internet

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Subscribe to Art Radar to keep up to date with the Chinese contemporary art scene

The New Filipino Natives at Lightbombs, Hong Kong – Zoe Peña interview



Lightbombs Founder and Director Zoe Peña talks about her passion for Filipino contemporary art.

From 30 April to 30 May 2014, Lightbombs Contemporary in Hong Kong is holding an exhibition of Filipino contemporary art entitled “New Natives”. Art Radar talks to Zoe Peña about the state of Filipino art today, the challenges of representing a niche art scene in Hong Kong and the concepts behind the exhibition.

Norberto Roldan, 'Sacred Is The New Profane 1', 2010, (diptych), assemblage with found objects, 24 x 48 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Norberto Roldan, ‘Sacred Is The New Profane 1′, 2010, (diptych), assemblage with found objects, 24 x 48 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Lightbombs Contemporary is an art advisory based in Hong Kong, founded by Filipino Zoe Peña in 2011. Involved with the management and logistics of art projects, Lightbombs also holds a yearly exhibition at its 2500-square-foot space in Hong Kong. From 30 April to 30 May 2014, Lightbombs is holding “New Natives”, an exhibition featuring 28 established and emerging contemporary Filipino artists, whose works explore notions of displacement, identity and transnationalism.

The show brings a microcosm of the complex Filipino art scene to Hong Kong, covering the current movements of Filipino artists around the world. The exhibition includes important artists such as:

Art Radar spoke to Zoe Peña about how Lightbombs was conceptualised and launched, the development of the Filipino art scene in recent years, the challenges of working in Hong Kong and the concepts behind “New Natives”.

Stephanie Syjuco, 'Cargo Cults 1', 2014, fine art print on archival acid free photo paper, 42 x 59.4 cm. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Stephanie Syjuco, ‘Cargo Cults 1′, 2014, fine art print on archival acid free photo paper, 42 x 59.4 cm. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

The story behind Lightbombs

You have been working in the arts for quite some time now. What is your background? When did you move to Hong Kong?

I graduated from the Fine Arts Programme of the Ateneo de Manila University in 2010. Specifically, I was a Creative Writing and Arts Management double major. And so, I’ve been working in art ever since.

[I moved to Hong Kong] in 2010, right after I submitted my final paper. It was all very fast. In the Fine Arts Programme in school – it was a young programme – there was a lot of space for students like me to make the most out of the curriculum, whether it was taking internships or jobs as part of our training in school. One of those jobs was an exhibition put up by Osage gallery in Hong Kong. And so before I graduated I already knew I wanted to come to Hong Kong.

Since 2005 I have been working with some great artists, curators and galleries back in the Philippines. I used to write and help them out with exhibitions.

And then you founded Lightbombs in 2011?

Yes, for a year [after moving to Hong Kong] I worked in a little gallery, but I’d rather not talk about that, it takes away from what we do now. But I worked in the art scene as well here in Hong Kong, and I actually also wrote a little bit for Art Radar so this is quite cool for me!

Dex Fernandez, 'Happy Schizocouple', 2014, archival print, acrylic, thread, glitter, ink, 36 x 36 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Dex Fernandez, ‘Happy Schizocouple’, 2014, archival print, acrylic, thread, glitter, ink, 36 x 36 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Lightbombs is your ‘child’, you’ve said; do you have any professional partners involved with the gallery?

Yes, my husband is my partner. He is American, but he has lived in Hong Kong on and off for the last 15 or 20 years, so this is his home. Lightbombs was founded after I left my gallery job. It was an organic process, because a lot of the artists that I worked with before started contacting me, and so the collectors that I used to work with before started contacting me as well about certain artists. To be able to bring them together was a nice place to find myself in.

And Hong Kong was an organic choice: there was the job offer, then I got married… So life brought me here and I think it keeps me here. I’m happy, I get to do what I love to do here. And Lightbombs, with regards to Filipino artists, was an organic process as well.

So does Lightbombs strictly represents Filipino artists?

Well, no, I mean ‘strictly’ is a bit of a strong word. For the past two years – this is our third year – we dealt with art from Australia and New York because these were artists that I worked with in the year that I first moved to Hong Kong. So it just made sense to keep working with artists that I knew.

And then it was a natural progression to have this [project] centre around Filipino art, because I am Filipino myself and my passion, my love, lies largely in the talent that is found in my motherland. And now that our focus is on this, I am very proud that through Lightbombs I am able to share what I love with Hong Kong and the rest of the world.

Costantino Zicarelli, 'Beyond Evil 5', 2010, ink drawing on paper, 22.4 x 30.12 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Costantino Zicarelli, ‘Beyond Evil 5′, 2010, ink drawing on paper, 22.4 x 30.12 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

What is your mission as a gallery or an art space?

We are not a gallery, we are an advisory. Most galleries have an exhibitions programme throughout the year, we don’t. We do one big exhibition a year. This year “New Natives” is what we are producing. The rest of the year focuses on introducing the work to collections and collectors in a more private and intimate way.

Zeus Bascon, 'During Afternoon Naps, I Wander', 2011, acrylic and collage elements on canvas, 18 x 24 in. Image courtesy Lightbomb Contemporary.

Zeus Bascon, ‘During Afternoon Naps, I Wander’, 2011, acrylic and collage elements on canvas, 18 x 24 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Could give us some highlights from the last three years at Lightbombs, for example the past exhibitions you have held?

Last year, we were quite quiet because we were conceptualising for “New Natives”. This is a big exhibition and so we wanted to take our time to focus and really finesse the idea. But Lightbombs does help out with other projects for people, and this is what kept us busy last year.

We helped put together Dan Findlay’s and Alexandre Charriol’s solo exhibitions in Hong Kong. The year before that [we consulted with] a fashion label Waldmann to conceptualise HEX, which was a collaboration between artists and the clothing company.

Victor Balanon, 'The Kindly Ones (After Antonioni)', 2014, (one of a triptych), brush and pen, India ink, masking medium on canvas paper, 16.75 x 33.5 in each panel. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Victor Balanon, ‘The Kindly Ones (After Antonioni)’, 2014, (one of a triptych), brush and pen, India ink, masking medium on canvas paper, 16.75 x 33.5 in each panel. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Representing Filipino art in Hong Kong

You said all or most of the artists that you represent at Lightbombs are artists that you have worked with before. What is the proportion of emerging and established or mid-career artists that you represent?

Yes, most of them [I have worked with before]. Lightbombs, while it is a commercial entity, handles things mostly driven by gut and the heart. So with regards to profit, with regards with the business part, while it is a very big reality – in that an established name will pull in more sales than an emerging name – this is something we don’t focus on.

We [the artists that I work with and I] share a curiosity. I find I have a great understanding of what they do. And, because they know who I am, and they know what Lightbombs is about they have a great understanding of what we do. I mean, when you work with artists, there is a trust that needs to happen. So it doesn’t matter if you are emerging or established, if [trust] is not there I think it would be tricky, on my part. I don’t know about the rest, but that’s the way we do things.

And then, the term emerging is such a vague one when it comes to Filipino artists because the scene back home is an insular one. They are emerging to the rest of the world, but they have been active for a long time and are established in their respective scenes. But, I suppose to an international audience – which is what we are dealing with when we bring something to Hong Kong most of the time – the show is a combination of both.

I am very excited to have artists like Norberto Roldan, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Ringo Bunoan and Stephanie Syjuco, who are established. But I am also thrilled to be able to continue to stand by artists like Dex Fernandez, Zeus Bascon, Jed Escueta, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo and Pancho Villanueva, who are not less established, just younger. I think it [being more or less established] also depends on how the artists want to steer their career.

Ringo Bunoan, 'Island 3', 2013, digital print on fine art photo paper, 12 x 20.5 in (framed: 29 x 34 in), edition 1, 4 and 5. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Ringo Bunoan, ‘Island 3′, 2013, digital print on fine art photo paper, 12 x 20.5 in (framed: 29 x 34 in), edition 1, 4 and 5. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

At the time when you moved to Hong Kong and then set the space up, how was the demand for Filipino art? And how has it developed over these past three years of running the space?

There wasn’t a strong demand for it three years ago. And up to now it still remains very niche. Three years ago there was a buzz, I think. But we don’t listen to these things. We are aware of the buzz, but again it doesn’t play a big part in what we do. We love Filipino art and this is what we do. We promote it and we champion it in Hong Kong.

It just so happens that at present there is an increased curiosity in what is going on in the Philippines art-wise. I think this comes out because of the great numbers churned out by some Filipino artists in Hong Kong at auction houses. And there are some great galleries in the Philippines that have moved out to other countries. And it [Filipino contemporary art] has just been tipped as the next up-and-coming thing. There is a curiosity, and it’s coinciding with our advocacy, which is a great thing.

You mentioned some galleries expanding out of the Philippines. Could you name them?

Yes, Silverlens and The Drawing Room, which are great galleries that I love. They are in Singapore. Osage in Hong Kong is also a strong supporter of Southeast Asian art and has done some very good exhibitions of Filipino contemporary art.

Pancho Villanueva, 'Please Help Yourself, 2014, found object assemblages in box frame. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Pancho Villanueva, ‘Please Help Yourself, 2014, found object assemblages in box frame. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

What are the challenges of working in Hong Kong as a young space representing a niche art scene like Filipino art? 

I think Hong Kong is the true city of possibilities, I don’t know anywhere else where Lightbombs could thrive the way it does besides Hong Kong. But like anything in art, we encounter challenges and perhaps the real estate market posits itself for businesses. Hong Kong is a very expensive city.

Regarding our business, it’s tough introducing Filipino art. It’s a challenge, but no matter how niche it is, it’s a privilege to be able to do what we do. This is art that I studied in school. This is art that I lived with. These are artists that I know. This is what I’ve done ever since [school] so this is what I am most comfortable doing.

Jed Escueta, 'Lion’s Share', 2014, (one of a diptych), film photograph on archival matte photo rag paper, 14 x 12.2 in (per frame). Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Jed Escueta, ‘Lion’s Share’, 2014, (one of a diptych), film photograph on archival matte photo rag paper, 14 x 12.2 in (per frame). Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Gary-Ross Pastrana, 'Time ­ Action = Thought', 2010, archival Inkjet print, face­mounted on Plexi, 15.55 x 22 in, Edition 4/5. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Gary-Ross Pastrana, ‘Time-Action = Thought’, 2010, archival Inkjet print, face­mounted on Plexi, 15.55 x 22 in,Edition 4/5. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

The Filipino art scene at home and abroad

How would you say the art scene in the Philippines has developed in the past decade? What are the main elements that make it particularly interesting and are specific to the scene?

I think what’s exciting to me is that media-wise there is a lot of experimentation with new types of media –video, sound and photography-based works.

I suppose that the most notable thing is the globalism. It’s making a big splash these days with some amazing galleries, like I mentioned before, venturing out to different countries. I love what they do. What I mean to say is that there is a lot of culminating interest outside of the Philippines, which is very exciting to me. I like feeling this collective curiosity for something new.

Could you expand a bit more on the international visibility and status of contemporary Filipino art and artists at this stage?

Definitely, Filipino art and artists are very visible, [and are] considered very exciting. Philippine contemporary art is making the news and is very buzzy. But art is a fickle industry; I would love for people to really reach out and enrich themselves with the back stories of each artist they fall in love with because that’s what I think makes art and artists last in this very, very trendy time. This is something we underline greatly in Lightbombs: one must immerse oneself in the artist’s practice.

At this time, who are the most internationally well-known artists from the Philippines?

I think Norberto Roldan is at the helm. You have artists like Louie Cordero as well, who is very exciting. Gary-Ross Pastrana is also up there. And you have Ronald Ventura as well.

Michael Arcega, 'A Tautology: Bohn, Boan, Bone, Bown, Bøn, Bauwn', 2014, cotton, wood, bone, foam, ceramic, watercolour, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Michael Arcega, ‘A Tautology: Bohn, Boan, Bone, Bown, Bøn, Bauwn’, 2014, cotton, wood, bone, foam, ceramic, watercolour, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Recently, the Filipino Department of Foreign Affairs announced that the Philippines will be participating with a national pavilion at next year’s Venice Biennale. There has been much speculation and discussion on the open competition application format, and the fact that the curator is unknown in the Philippines. What do you think about the Philippines participation in Venice? Do you also have comments about the curator and other issues that have arisen? How do you think being in Venice will benefit the Philippine art scene?

I think it’s fantastic they’re joining and I think that it’s cool there is an open call for artists to apply because there is a lot of talent that gets sidelined, because of politics, just like in art scenes everywhere. So it’s nice to have this even playing field. With regards to the curator, I am also unfamiliar with her and the Philippine contemporary art landscape is something that I think one cannot really know unless one is really immersed in it. I think that might be a challenge to the curator. But I don’t think this is impossible to overcome. I’m very excited to see it unfold. The Venice Biennale is an institution in the art world and it’s nice to be able to be part of it.

It’s just a great platform. There is an audience one doesn’t reach unless they are in the Venice Biennale. I definitely think it will shine the spotlight on what is going on back home. I definitely think there will be more visibility and interest, with regards to actually getting people to come see it. The Philippine art fair will probably help with that as well.

I suppose an open call is quite fair, because we don’t know who she [the curator] is. I think that giving a fair chance to everyone is a great way to do it. I suppose that people have their preferences of who should be in there and there are some very obvious frontrunners – which I won’t name – but it’s always nice to see something surprising.

Maya Munoz, 'Moonrise', 2014, acrylic, watercolour and graphite, 48 x 96 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Maya Munoz, ‘Moonrise’, 2014, acrylic, watercolour and graphite, 48 x 96 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

“New Natives” in focus

Talking about the “New Natives” exhibition, how did you come up with the concept and what is the idea behind it? What does the title of the exhibition specifically mean or refer to? What is the message that you are trying to convey through this show?

I’ve been obsessed with concepts of home, concepts of distance and geography since I moved out of my parents’ house. There are a few ways in which one can understand “New Natives”. One is the displacement that currently moves the country, people leaving, people choosing to stay, and notions of transnationalism.

I think technology also plays a big part in this, with the world being quantified in a very small perimeter, which is your computer or your smartphone, I mean, everything is there. The economy is thought to be better, and so the youth, instead of leaving, are actually choosing to stay in the Philippines. And I think this is a new kind of displacement, coupled with the old understanding of displacement, that some of the artists in the “New Natives” roster deal with through their art.

Another way one can understand “New Natives” is that in the art world I feel that one’s identity these days is hardly connected to geography. One’s identity is connected to the work one does. So everyone is actually a native.

Marija Vicente, 'Play Money', 2014, mixed media painting on Philippine peso bills. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Marija Vicente, ‘Play Money’, 2014, mixed media painting on Philippine peso bills. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

There are 28 artists in the show, quite a large number. You mentioned before that you select the artists with your gut feeling and also because you worked with them before. But how did you select them for the exhibition in particular? What ties them together, besides nationality and culture?

It was still a very organic process. I started with the existing roster, which is Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, Jed Escueta, Dex Fernandez, Maya Munoz, Pancho Villanueva and built it from there. I really wanted this to be a project in which I worked with artists I knew I loved, most of which I have worked with before and some even training under. We were going to stop at 22 artists, but I was in Manila in February for the art fair and I fell in love with many of the artists’ works and I had to add them to the list. So I am very happy they all said yes, and I feel very honoured that all these artists are giving time and trust to the show.

Tying them together I think is this displacement, this tackling of displacement and identity, being an artist in a time when Filipino contemporary art is gaining momentum in a very international way.

Do they all live and work in the Philippines, or are they spread around the world and based elsewhere?

In this show, most of them are based in the Philippines, but Stephanie Syjuco is based in San Francisco and so is Michael Arsega. Gel Jamlang is based in Baltimore, Arnel Agawin and Bobbit Segismundo are based in Hong Kong.

Arnel Agawin, 'Red Moon Over Rust', 2014, acrylic, image transfer on handmade paper, 52.5 in x 65.5 in (unframed). Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Arnel Agawin, ‘Red Moon Over Rust’, 2014, acrylic, image transfer on handmade paper, 52.5 in x 65.5 in (unframed). Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Going back to the theme of “New Natives” and the artists that you have selected to represent the Filipino art scene and its variety of artistic practices: is it possible to have a complete “survey” (as you call it in the press release) of the contemporary Filipino art landscape with such an exhibition? In what way is this show a representative survey?

It’s not really possible. If we are going to talk about survey in its essence, it’s not possible to have a complete survey of something that isn’t done, that isn’t finished. So this is just an offering to the audience of some of the things that have been moving the Filipino artists to create art.

Mark Salvatus, 'Wrapped Drawings 1­5', 2014, graphite on archival paper, 20 x 20 in each. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Mark Salvatus, ‘Wrapped Drawings 1­5′, 2014, graphite on archival paper, 20 x 20 in each. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

In the text about the exhibition, you mention that you want to present “the canon of Filipino contemporary art” to local Hong Kong audiences. Could you expand on this notion? What is the canon of Filipino contemporary art?

There have been other shows before, but I think this it the first show that focuses on contemporary Filipino art as it is today. And when we say ‘canon’, we don’t mean to exclude all the other incredible talent that exists. But this is what we can offer to the curiosity shown in Hong Kong. These are artists who are in their own right representative, or are even at the helm, of the current practice in Filipino contemporary art.

So I think one will be able to understand… I mean, it is hard to understand an art scene. Who really understands an art scene? But definitely audiences will be able to enrich [themselves] with what is going on in the Philippines.

It’s a very good variety of working and relevant artists in the Phillippines, in different times of their career, but it definitely is not a complete survey. There are surveys for different things and a complete survey is difficult to appropriate here, because the history of the Filipino contemporary art scene is not finished.

Romeo Lee, 'The Good Shepherdlee', 2011, oil on canvas, 49 x 63 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Romeo Lee, ‘The Good Shepherdlee’, 2011, oil on canvas, 49 x 63 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Could you give us a few examples of exhibition highlights and outstanding works that can explain and represent some of the peculiarities of the Filipino art scene, through the concepts and ideas often explored by artists and the artistic styles employed?

I think this exhibition goes beyond pinning down a “general peculiarity” of the Philippine art scene. Art scenes are complicated animals. The works in this exhibition, though, showcase the way artists tackle the concepts of displacement and home, what is familiar and unfamiliar – because in the country at the moment, given technology and the rising presence of a Philippine contemporary artist to the international art world – there’s a certain untethering and floating when it comes to talking about what contemporary art from the Philippines is like.

However, I think there is emphasis on the tongue-in-cheek and the playfully vulgar like Dex Fernandez’s Happy Schizocouple and Neil Arvin Javier’s embroidered paintings.

There is a push on very sound conceptual art that manifests itself viscerally and beautifully in a traditional form like Costantino Zicarelli’s Beyond Evil series, which are ink blot-like drawings, and Gary-Ross Pastrana’s Time-Thought=Action digital work. Assemblages figure in a number of the artist’s work as well, which I find very poetic since these are mementos found in everyday life.

Artists like Norberto Roldan, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo and Pancho Villanueva breathe new life into forgotten materials – whether a piece of metal, an old teabag, a glass vial – and they become incredible stories, if not discourses on topics like religion, spirituality, loss and contentment.

Neil Arvin Javier, 'Kushinta', 2014, embroidery on flour sack, 30 x 17.3 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Neil Arvin Javier, ‘Kushinta’, 2014, embroidery on flour sack, 30 x 17.3 in. Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Projecting into the future

What do you envision for the future development of the Filipino art scene? What are your plans for the future of Lightbombs?

With regards to the Filipino art scene, I just hope that it keeps moving forward. For Lightbombs, I hope to keep doing what we do, because we love what we do!

Will you be collaborating with other institutions and art spaces internationally or will just keep concentrating in Hong Kong?

We have been working towards that [international collaboration] and it might manifest in the next couple of years. We have a lot of things to work on right now and championing Filipino art in Hong Kong has given us a lot of opportunities to collaborate with other people in the next five years. The timeline is only solidifying itself slowly and these are things that we can’t really talk about just yet, but we are very excited.

Wawi Navarroza, 'Terrarium no. XX', 2013, archival pigment ink on Hahnemüehle photo rag fine art paper, 30 x 20 in, Editions of 5 + 2 AP (Edition 1, signed verso 2013). Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

Wawi Navarroza, ‘Terrarium no. XX’, 2013, archival pigment ink on Hahnemüehle photo rag fine art paper, 30 x 20 in, Editions of 5 + 2 AP (Edition 1, signed verso 2013). Image courtesy Lightbombs Contemporary.

 C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Taiwan’s first ‘Art Bank’ opens in Taichung



Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture inaugurates the Art Bank Programme in a bid to promote local artists and the art market.

The nationwide project, the first phase of which was launched in 2013, aims to help young Taiwanese artists gain more exposure through renting out and exhibiting their artworks. The Headquarters of the Art Bank was inaugurated on 13 April 2014 in Taichung.

Taiwan Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai, who has unveiled a new policy to support up and coming artists in Taiwan.

Taiwanese Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai, who has unveiled a new policy to support up-and-coming artists in Taiwan.

Promoting Taiwanese art

The concept of the Art Bank involves the purchase of artworks from Taiwanese artists, which will then be exhibited at the Art Bank headquarters in Taichung as well as rented out to other institutions, companies and government agencies. Some of the works will also be displayed overseas, thus promoting Taiwanese art to an international audience. According to the press release, Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai said at the opening ceremony that:

a core concept of the initiative is to allow more Taiwanese children to experience first-handedly [sic] the works of local artists, instead of being educated on replicas of Picasso or Monet paintings.

The goals of the Art Bank Programme are threefold:

  • Financing local young and emerging artists by purchasing art pieces with potential;
  • Collaborating with the private sector to promote Taiwan’s art to foreign audiences;
  • Promote cultural diplomacy through renting art to governmental agencies and Taiwan’s embassies globally.
Exhibition view, 2012 National Art Exhibition, ROC at National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. Image by Art Radar.

Exhibition view, 2012 National Art Exhibition, ROC at National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. Image by Art Radar.

Art on lease

The project, budgeted at USD2.33 million annually, will allow interested organisations to rent artworks for up to one year. In its first phase, launched in 2013, the Ministry of Culture purchased 346 works by 195 artists, comprising various media including photography, painting, sculpture and installation.

The Art Bank runs an open call for submissions on its website, the first of which received over 3000 submissions. The final artworks were selected by a panel, organised by the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, based on artistic merit as well as practical factors such as preservation and the ability for the work to be easily transported. Many of the selected works are by award-winning artists and the entire selection was unveiled in September 2013.

Speaking on the occasion, Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai was quoted as saying that the programme would “promote the entire visual arts industry by encouraging private and public institutes and the general public to collect art” and also develop related industries such as art galleries, insurance, restoration, and shipping and transportation.

At present, eighty percent of the Art Bank’s collection is leased out. The works have so far been displayed at several prime locations including Taiwan’s international airports, the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan buildings. The entire collection is available to view on the Art Bank Taiwan website.

Supporting emerging artists in Taiwan

Following a structural overhaul in 2012, Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture has undertaken a number of projects and initiatives in the recent past to support artists in the country. The Art Bank Programme has been one of its flagship policies since the new Ministry’s inauguration.

Despite restricted resources, in May 2013, the Ministry announced a subsidy programme and financial grants of USD442,000 annually. There were also plans to set up an international cultural exchange platform and art villages across Taiwan.

Kriti Bajaj

331

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What to see at Roppongi Art Night 2014 – the highlights



The fifth edition of Roppongi Art Night presents “Move Your Body!”

The Roppongi Art Night in Tokyo is putting on an all-night programme of art and culture events this April. The arts festival in its fifth edition themed “Move Your Body!” will feature exhibits, events and activities across various locations in Tokyo’s bustling Roppongi district.

Roppongi Art Night 2013, Core Time Kick-Off Ceremony. Image courtesy Roppongi Art Night.

Roppongi Art Night 2013, Core Time Kick-Off Ceremony. Image courtesy Roppongi Art Night.

The Roppongi Art Night 2014 will be held from 10am GMT+8 on Saturday 19 April to 6pm GMT+8 on Sunday 20 April 2014, with the core time of the event between sunset and sunrise. The festival integrates art into the urban life of Tokyo’s Roppongi district, contributing to its evolution through art and symbolising the city’s broader redevelopment ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games.

The artistic director of the 2014 edition is Katsuhiko Hibino, a renowned Japanese multidisciplinary artist who emphasises the physical nature of art in his works. The festival is themed “Move Your Body!” and will demonstrate art’s capacity to move the human mind and body.

Art Radar lists some highlights of this year’s all-night festival.

Artist Yoshinari Nishio working on his patchworks. Image courtesy Roppongi Art Night.

Artist Yoshinari Nishio working on his patchworks. Image courtesy Roppongi Art Night.

  • “One Body” by Yoshinari Nishio – The project includes two giant patchworks made with publicly donated used clothing: People’s House, comprising twelve 4 x 9m pieces at Roppongi Hills Arena and the 2.5m-high flower-shaped Floral Prints/Flower at Tokyo Midtown; and Buttons/Rain, strings of thousands of donated buttons at The National Art Center, Tokyo.
  • “Hibino Cup in Roppongi” – A friendly tournament, in connection with the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for participants of all ages using footballs, goals and uniforms made by hand.
  • “Match Flag Project” – Connected to the tournament, a workshop in which participants will make a giant flag from the national flags of competing teams.
Yoshinari Nishio, 'People's House', used clothing patchwork installation for Roppongi Art Night 2014. Image courtesy Roppongi Art Night.

Yoshinari Nishio, ‘People’s House’, used clothing patchwork installation for Roppongi Art Night 2014. Image courtesy Roppongi Art Night.

  • “Roppongi Parade” – Directed by dancer Kim Ito and featuring some 140 dancers giving ojigi (bowing) performances. The parade will travel up Roppongi Street from Roppongi Hills, turning at Roppongi Crossing and going past Tokyo Midtown, then heading down Stars and Stripes Street to The National Art Center, Tokyo. Spectators will be welcome to join the dancing.
  • “Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal” – Mori Art Museum, Roppongi Hills, presents a comprehensive overview of Warhol’s works from his earliest creations through his later years.
  • Art Workshops – Suntory Museum of Art, Tokyo Midtown, presents “Workshop of Light and Shadows” and “Looking at a different world through the Gulliver Scope” workshops.
Yoshinari Nishio, 'Buttons/Rain', installation of donated buttons at The National Art Center, Tokyo, for Roppongi Art Night 2014. Image courtesy Roppongi Art Night.

Yoshinari Nishio, ‘Buttons/Rain’, installation of donated buttons at The National Art Center, Tokyo, for Roppongi Art Night 2014. Image courtesy Roppongi Art Night.

  • “TOKYO_ANIMA!2014” – The National Art Museum, Tokyo features short anime by 15-20 young artists.
  • 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT – PechaKucha “Kome: The Art of Rice” exhibition.
  • Tokyo Midtown – Beer will be served in award-winning Mt. Fuji beer glasses in the first-floor Plaza, and three artists will give flower-arranging performances to music in the public space.
  • Mori Tower (52nd fl.) – Andy Warhol Café is open with a midnight performance by Yasutaka Nakata who is known as a producer of Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu as a special event.
Yoshinari Nishio, 'Floral Prints/Flower', used clothing patchwork installation at Tokyo Midtown for Roppongi Art Night 2014. Image courtesy Roppongi Art Night.

Yoshinari Nishio, ‘Floral Prints/Flower’, used clothing patchwork installation at Tokyo Midtown for Roppongi Art Night 2014. Image courtesy Roppongi Art Night.

The festival is organised by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Arts Council Tokyo, Tokyo Culture Creation Project office (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture), and the Roppongi Art Night Executive Committee, including The National Art Center (Tokyo), Suntory Museum of Art, Tokyo Midtown, 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, Mori Building, Mori Art Museum and Ractive Roppongi.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Artist Prem Sahib exhibits for the first time in Mumbai – in pictures



British-Indian artist Prem Sahib has his first solo exhibition in India.

Jhaveri Contemporary gallery in Mumbai is holding British-Indian artist Prem Sahib’s first solo exhibition in India, from 10 April to 17 May 2014. The emerging artist works in an abstract and minimalist style that subtly references notions of intimacy, sexuality, relationships, desire and community.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view at Jhaveri Contemporary, Mummbai. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view at Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Using space: Minimalism and detachment

Tongues” at Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai, is Prem Sahib’s first solo exhibition in India to date. Sahib’s practice is one of abstraction and minimalism, and he has been known to exhibit in domestic spaces, inviting audiences to seek the artworks out from amongst the surrounding everyday objects.

Prem Sahib, 'Browser', 2014, aluminium, acrylic, 11 x 100 x 0.5cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, ‘Browser’, 2014, aluminium, acrylic, 11 x 100 x 0.5 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

For his solo exhibition in Mumbai, Sahib has created a body of work that is, like all his creations, formally clean and precise, abstract and minimalist. However, his sculptures and paintings all subtly reference convictions about intimacy, sexuality, relationships, desire and community through their apparent distance and coldness.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Left to right: 'Us Three II', 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10 cm; 'Only With Your Lights On', 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Left to right: ‘Us Three II’, 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10 cm; ‘Only With Your Lights On’, 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Like the rest of his oeuvre, the work in this show also draws upon the artist’s continued interest in communal and popular environments such as public bathrooms and nightclubs. The latter were particularly prevalent in his latest solo exhibition at Southard Reid, London, entitled “Night Flies” (2013), in which Sahib transformed the gallery space into a private club for one night, projecting a sense of detachment and boredom, intended as a “hangover”.

Prem Sahib, 'Us Three II', 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, ‘Us Three II’, 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Sahib’s work in “Tongues”, explains the press release, “alludes to the gendered spaces in which the body is enacted upon”, and the artist deals with notions of encounter and presence – the physical, the body.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Foreground to background: 'Only With Your Lights On', 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm; 'Me Time', 2014, resin, anodized aluminium, 40 x 35 cm; 'Tongues', 2014, digital print, 45 x 32 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Foreground to background: ‘Only With Your Lights On’, 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm; ‘Me Time’, 2014, resin, anodised aluminium, 40 x 35 cm; ‘Tongues’, 2014, digital print, 45 x 32 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

“Communication in the absence of language”

The exhibition further explores issues of continued interest to the artist, such as the “evocation of emotion” through minimal but often suggestive or personified arrangements. His discrete sculptures are set up in the gallery space as though in dialogue with one another.

This dialogue becomes more apparent when considering the starting point of the exhibition: an anatomical and rhetorical form – the tongue. According to the press release, the show puts forth the idea of

communication in the absence of language, as well a more physical intermingling – one that is channeled through an avowed ambition for the works to be ‘talking to themselves’.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Right: 'Tongues', 2014, digital print, 75 x 56 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Right: ‘Tongues’, 2014, digital print, 75 x 56 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

At first, Sahib’s works appear to be muted and cold, almost enhancing the surrounding void. But upon a closer observation of their mutual relationships and their presence within the space as a whole, it is possible to understand the underlying references made by the artist. As the press release states:

With an emphasis on what appears to be formal relationships of sameness, Sahib’s work pointedly offers more promiscuous interpretations and deviations of meaning.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Foreground to background: 'Only With Your Lights On', 2014; 'Us Three II', 2014; 'Insider', 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Foreground to background: ‘Only With Your Lights On’, 2014; ‘Us Three II’, 2014; ‘Insider’, 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Throughout the exhibition, the works offer macro and micro views juxtaposed with one another that question the perception of the viewer’s own body by creating constant shifts in scale between large spaces or installations, small miniature details, and mirrored artworks.

Prem Sahib, 'Insider', 2014, steel, paint, polished steel, 10 x 30 x 10cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, ‘Insider’, 2014, steel, paint, polished steel, 10 x 30 x 10 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

In his work Insider (2014), comprising two intersecting steel disks, the artist speaks of union as well as individual capacity through the piece’s partly mirrored surface.

Prem Sahib, "Toungues", installation view (foreground to background): 'Your Shine 1', 2014, jesmonite, paint, fake diamond earrings, 100 x 100cm; 'Your Shine II', 2014, jesmonite, paint, fake diamond earrings, 100 x 100cm; 'Up Now', 2014, perspex, steel, fabric, 47 x 40cm; 'Us Three II', 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view (foreground to background): ‘Your Shine I’, 2014, Jesmonite, paint, fake diamond earrings, 100 x 100 cm; ‘Your Shine II’, 2014, Jesmonite, paint, fake diamond earrings, 100 x 100 cm; ‘Up Now’, 2014, perspex, steel, fabric, 47 x 40 cm; ‘Us Three II’, 2014, steel, paint, 10 x 40 x 10 cm. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Your Shine (2014) presents a pierced white surface, with fake diamond earrings piercing the enlarged tiles as if they were skin.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Left to right: 'Only With Your Lights On', 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm; 'Us three II', 2014; 'Insider', 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Left to right: ‘Only With Your Lights On’, 2014, steel, crash mat, candles, ashtray, 210 x 130 x 80 cm; ‘Us three II’, 2014; ‘Insider’, 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Only With Your Light On (2014) is modeled on a piece of steel furniture from a nightclub in Berlin. The sculpture mediates two views: an object being looked at, and a vantage point to look from. The object is precarious and flimsy, but creates a presence that equals that of a body. Lit candles placed on its metal framework suggest a desire to be tended to.

Prem Sahib, "Tongues", installation view. Foreground to background: 'Only With Your Lights On', 2014; 'Us Three II', 2014; 'Insider', 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

Prem Sahib, “Tongues”, installation view. Foreground to background: ‘Only With Your Lights On’, 2014; ‘Us Three II’, 2014; ‘Insider’, 2014. Image courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

More about the artist

Prem Sahib was born in the United Kingdom in 1982 to an Indian father and a Polish mother. He graduated from the Slade School of Art in 2006 and the Royal Academy Schools in 2013. Sahib has exhibited extensively throughout Europe since 2005. He currently resides and works in London.

 C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Performance art and the museum: Para Site conference, Hong Kong



Can performance art and the institution ever be happy bedfellows? Para Site conference participants grappled with this sticky issue.

The panel discussion, entitled “On Institutions”, at Para Site’s International Conference in Hong Kong on 4 April 2014, raised questions about the changing role of museums and institutions to include performance art.

Catherine Wood (via Skype), Low Kee Hong, Danny Yung, Ana Janevski, Doryun Chong and Stuart Comer. Image courtesy Para Site.

Catherine Wood (via Skype), Low Kee Hong, Danny Yung, Ana Janevski, Doryun Chong and Stuart Comer. Image courtesy Para Site.

The title of the 2014 conference was “Is the living body the last thing left alive? The new performance turn, its histories and its institutions.” The panel discussion was called “On Institutions” and the panellists were:

Tate Modern: Turbine Hall. Photo by Tate Photography.

Tate Modern: Turbine Hall. Photo by Tate Photography.

Objects, bodies and shadow spaces

Skyping in from London, Catherine Wood spoke about how performance art, by entering the museum space, has modified museums and their programming. She discussed how,

by inviting this mode of art making into the museum, it starts to inflect the museum’s own set up and ritual, and starts to expose it as a live entity. […] Those systems and setups have a choreography of their own which artists’ interventions begin to press on.

Wood used the anthropological theory of liminality and shadow spaces propounded by Victor Turner to address performance’s relationship to the canon of art history and to the presentation of art. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, performance art began to move from unofficial spaces into institutions, but still remained marginalised. At the Tate, for example, performance has had a very shadowy presence and, despite the establishment of the performance programme in 2003, continues to do so. The existence of a demarcation between additional programming versus core programming at museums and institutions usually means the relegation of performance to the former category, becoming sideshows to the main objects of focus.

Wood added that museums are still choreographed toward the object, to preserve, present and handle them in certain ways, and bodies or liveness may sometimes get in the way of this. Performance art refuses to settle like an object does and has an agency of its own, but does the medium get tamed upon entering an institution?

Through the example of a performance art piece at Tate Britain in 2011 by Mark Leckey, called BigBoxStatueAction, Wood suggested this medium actually has the ability to alter itself according to the space, engaging with viewers on a level different from objects, temporally, spatially and socially:

For me, what was extraordinary about this was that he thought of a way of reconfiguring the high modernist art encounter of the spectator with a social situation, so it sort of broke apart the usual way that we usually see art. […] He created a situation where we were the institution temporarily.

Rong Rong. East Village, Beijing, No. 81. 1994. Gelatin silver print. MoMA

Rong Rong, ‘East Village, Beijing, No. 81′, 1994, gelatin silver print. Image courtesy MoMA.

Performance and the museum

The establishment of a department dedicated to performance art is also fairly recent at MoMA: the Department of Media and Performance Art only came into being in 2007. Stuart Comer reiterated Wood’s idea of liminality, highlighting the changing role of performance in the museum and how museums change to accommodate it, as well as referring to performance as

live bodies engaging with other objects, with histories, with other kinds of urban structures and institutional infrastructures.

Comer also spoke about the architecture of museums and how institutions are now creating spaces for live art, including new plans for MoMA. The space for performance at the Whitney Museum is still under construction, but that didn’t stop artist Yves Laris Cohen from performing at the construction site, using props left behind by the workers, as well as a wall slab that was transported daily to the site. The slab from the museum consisted of an explanatory text and was a part of the performance: it thus changed from an object or artwork (which had to be transported) into a performance prop (at its destination) every day. In the interdisciplinary performance of visual art and dance, “the artist explores how particular sites can be defined and how they control the movement of bodies and space.”

With new spaces now being planned, Comer raised some questions that could result, such as:

  • Will artists rebel against them?
  • Will they be a useful tool?
  • What will it mean for performance to have a legitimate home?
Song Dong, 'Printing on Water' (Performance in the Lhasa River, Tibet, 1996), 1996, 36 chromogenic prints, each 60.5 × 39.9 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Song Dong, ‘Printing on Water’ (Performance in the Lhasa River, Tibet, 1996), 1996, 36 chromogenic prints, each 60.5 × 39.9 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Promised Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Interventions and moving forward

Moderator Low Kee Hong emphasised the need for conferences of this nature to not only pose problems and questions, but also try to come up with action plans and ways of moving forward. He asked the panellists about the responsibilities and responses of their institutions in light of the issues they had exposed and their commitment to moving forward.

Stuart Comer suggested that it was important for institutional representatives to travel and have tangible conversations, in order for their institutions to evolve and tell about other modernisms.

Catherine Wood said that there is a responsibility, in representing art history and contemporary art practice, to bring performance art into the canon and not creating a segregation between additional and core programmes. The presence of performance in the museum puts pressure and forces changes in the institution. This pressure needs to be accelerated in order to deal with the reality of art practice, instead of an idea of art practice that is only object-focused.

Design of M+ museum's main entrance by Herzog & de Meuron. Image courtesy M+ museum.

Design of M+ museum’s main entrance by Herzog & de Meuron. Image courtesy M+ museum.

Hong Kong: “A blank piece of paper”

Low Kee Hong suggested that M+ had the potential to reinvent some of these ideas as it is still under construction and doesn’t yet have a space. Doryun Chong said that each curator is shaped by their experience and the various institutions that they have been associated with. His approach to M+ tries to find historical connections and circularity rather than binaries between East and West.

Danny Yung expanded on the idea of reinventing the institution by emphasising the need for conversation between arts organisations, museums and institutions, as well as academic institutions, which he believes does not happen enough. Conferences need innovative structuring and research, otherwise they end up being no more than platforms for everyone to tell their own stories.

Governance, policy, financial plans, technology and strategy all need to be taken into account to create cultural institutions that do not yet exist – like a blank piece of paper that does not copy existing structures. He suggested the need to think beyond projects and programmes and into the institution’s relationship with long term cultural development locally, regionally and globally.

Kriti Bajaj

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