Art upfront: 5 best public art stories

Especially in countries where art infrastructure is less developed, public art gives artists the opportunity to engage viewers in unexpected ways.

Even in Asia, traditional institutions, such as galleries, museums and art fairs, maintain a monopoly on contemporary art exhibition. Yet some artists try to buck this trend by bringing their practise into the public arena and engaging new audiences in a more direct way. Over the years, Art Radar has profiled a number of such projects.

Napoleon Veloso Abueva's 'Fredsvunda' sculpture at the Fort Canning Hill Park, the former site of Malay's ruling class in 17th century, which has undergone numerous transformations over its history to current status as a national park.

Napoleon Veloso Abueva's 'Fredsvunda' sculpture at the Fort Canning Hill Park, one of Asia's many public sculpture parks.

When an artist takes a work out of a gallery and places it in a non-traditional exhibition setting, it can make the work more immediate, more confrontational or even more intimate. We have covered a number of artists employing varying strategies to their public art projects, whether they investigate the spaces and urban locales themselves or raise social, political or personal topics in a way that brings these issues directly to the local community.

Asia’s contemporary sculpture parks: 20 gardens, 13 countries

November 2012

A great resource for anyone living in Asia looking to scope out public art in their home town! This comprehensive article discusses twenty sculpture parks around the region and groups them by country. The list includes single-artist sculpture parks, like the Ju Ming Museum in Taiwan, as well as those that host multiple artists and styles, such as Thailand’s Benjasiri Park.

Click here to read more about the diversity of contemporary sculpture parks in Asia.

Kerry Ann Lee, 'The Parallel City Picture Show', 2012, projected image installation. Photography by Verity Mackintosh.

New Zealand artist Kerry Ann Lee digs into Taiwan through image and ruin

July 2012

To wrap up her work at the Taipei Village Artist Residency, New Zealander Kerry Ann Lee organised her show The Parallel City Picture Show in Taipei’s now defunct Ruin Academy. The Ruin Academy was a five-story building designed to incorporate art into architecture. The structure was built according to the concept of the “Third Generation City”, in which open architecture incorporates nature and the elements.

Lee’s artwork consisted of a sound and video installation: photos were projected directly onto the walls of the Academy. Her project was focussed on how she came to understand Taiwan through found images, using them to create a narrative of her time there.

Click here to read more about Kerry Ann Lee’s residency project at The Ruin Academy.

Tehniyet Masood's installation for Project for Empty Space in 2010. Image courtesy Project for Empty Space.

Public art for (and by) the public: Interview with Project for Empty Space Founders – Part 1

May 2012

In May 2012, Art Radar spoke with New York City-based South Asian contemporary art curators Meenakshi Thirukode and Jasmine Wahi about their public art organisation Project for Empty Space, which commissions contemporary artists to create locally-inspired projects in vacant lots. For their inaugural year, they enlisted Pakistani-born contemporary artist Tehniyet Masood.

The interview goes into detail about the challenges of curating in a non-traditional contemporary art space, as well as how site-specific public art projects can better engage the community. Masood, for instance, incorporated feedback from local residents into her design for the space, even letting visitors contribute to the layout on opening night.

Click here to read more about Project for Empty Space.

Photo from the Occupy Central movement, one of the land-based art protest projects discussed at ART HK 12 Open Platforms.

ART HK 12: Redefining the space we live in – Asia Art Archive Open Platform speakers

May 2012

This wrap-up was a side-article to Art Radar‘s very first live-tweeting of the 2012 Hong Kong Art Fair Open Platform education programme. For the Open Platform series, the Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong invited four speakers to give half hour-long talks on their work in the visual arts. Speakers ranged from practising artists and collectives to cultural researchers.

Two of the speakers were presenting on projects that examine the interaction between art and public space. First up was the international research collective DOXA, who invited speakers representing land-based protest movements in Hong Kong and mainland China. Last on the bill was Parallel Lab, a pair of Swiss architects conducting projects that examine urban space and community interaction in Asian cities. They discussed their work on how locals reclaim public areas as ersatz meeting spaces in crowded Hong Kong.

Click here to read more about the public art projects presented at ART HK 12 Open Platforms.

Tim Li, 'The West Kowloon Promenade', pigment Ink on canvas. 2000X700mm.

Embedding the bed in public space – interview Hong Kong artist andParaSite Director Tim Li

August 2009

An early post from Art Radar, this interview with artist and Chairman of Para/Site Art Space Tim Li who photographs sculptures made of folding beds placed around various urban sites. In the interview, Li discusses the importance of negotiation in public art, how every artwork of the sort has to take into account the diversity of opinions and perspectives, be they artistic, governmental or societal.

Li sees his artwork as “community building”, a way of reminding people that how they interact with their space, how they divide and appropriate the public realm, largely determines the quality of their environment. He hopes that his artwork will inspire viewers to reconsider their surroundings and begin the discussion of what they want from their living space.

Click here to read more about Tim Li’s public art beds.

Want to look through our archives yourself? Click here to take a look at what else we have written on public art in Asia.


Related Topics: open air art spacespublic artart and the community

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