6 Asian film artists to know – Art Basel Hong Kong’s first Film sector

Art Radar profiles six exciting experimental filmmakers handpicked by Li Zhenhua to exhibit at Art Basel Hong Kong 2014.

Li Zhenhua, the Beijing- and Zurich-based founder of Beijing Art Lab, has curated a program of free screenings for Art Basel Hong Kong’s first Film sector. The screenings will take place from 15 to 17 May 2014 at the Hong Kong Arts Centre’s Agnès b. Cinema.

Li Zhenhua, Film curator at Art Basel Hong Kong 2014. Image courtesy Art Basel.

Li Zhenhua, Film curator at Art Basel Hong Kong 2014. Image courtesy Art Basel.

Featuring 49 works by 41 artists, who are represented by thirty galleries, Li Zhenhua’s selection is divided into six themes:

  • Urban Life
  • Beautiful Visuals
  • Animation
  • Action
  • Performance
  • Fiction Mix

Art Radar looks at the history of the relationship between Art Basel and film, and profiles six promising Asian artists to be included in this year’s programme.

An installation by Edouard Malingue Gallery as a part of the Encounters sector at Art Basel Hong Kong 2013. Image courtesy Art Basel.

An installation by Edouard Malingue Gallery, part of the Encounters sector at Art Basel Hong Kong 2013. Image courtesy Art Basel.

Art Basel and Film

The creation of the new film sector at Art Basel Hong Kong, which debuted in 2013 with a takeover from ART HK, marks a significant moment in the history of film and its audiences. Since Art Basel first introduced a film platform with the Art Video Forum in Switzerland in 1995, commercial art fairs have increasingly catered to the artistic medium. “Moving Image: an Art Fair of Contemporary Video Art”, which had a successful launch in New York in 2011, and Barcelona’s Loop Video Art Fair, currently in its twelfth edition, deal exclusively with the medium.

Art Basel Hong Kong’s Film sector curator Li Zhenhua sees the creation of this film platform as a victory for the local art scene. As quoted in the Financial Times, he said:

The film industry enjoys a long, very important tradition in Hong Kong. Given that Art Basel is thinking about how to engage with locals, it was very important to have an element that reflected that history.

Kwan Sheung Chi, 'Doing It with Mrs. Kwan… Making Pepper Spray', 2012, video, 5 min. 16 sec. Image courtesy the artist and RAM.

Kwan Sheung Chi, ‘Doing It with Mrs. Kwan… Making Pepper Spray’, 2012, video still, 5 min. 16 sec. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Kwan Sheung Chi

A finalist at this year’s Hugo Boss Asia Art Award, Kwan Sheung Chi (b. 1980, Hong Kong) works with installation and performance. His 2012 video Doing It with Mrs. Kwan…Making Pepper Spray, exhibited by Hong Kong based Gallery EXIT, parodies the style and format of a cooking show, complete with earnest host eager to talk about the best recipe for homemade mace.

Kwan Sheung Chi approaches art making as an opportunity to construct platforms for the comic, as well as a site to engender political change. Film sector curator Li Zhenhua has cited Kwan Sheung Chi’s recent participation in demonstrations in Hong Kong as the main influence on the programme’s overall concern with urban life, action and activism.

Chen Zhou,
’Spanking The Maid II’, 2012, video still. Image courtesy Arthub Asia and Aike-Dellarco.

Chen Zhou,
’Spanking The Maid II’, 2012, video still. Image courtesy Arthub Asia and Aike-Dellarco.

Chen Zhou

Chen Zhou (b. 1987, Zhejiang, China) has previously compared the development of his work, since graduating from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, to the progressive sophistication of the sentences of North American writer Raymond Carver. Over time, his practice has become less concerned with form and structure and more capable of accurately communicating complex emotions.

A product of Chen Zhou’s literary influences, his 2012 video work Spanking the Maid II is a screen adaptation of the novel of the same name by American author Robert Coover. Superimposed over images of a macho body builder flexing in a bright pink room, the original novel’s treatment of the violence of media is faithfully dramatised by the kitsch aesthetic of Chen Zhou’s set. The work is representative of an artistic practice that sits productively at the border of the critical and the humorous.

SHIMURAbros, ‘SEKILALA’, 2006-2008, video still. Image courtesy the artist and Tokyo Gallery + BTAP.

SHIMURAbros, ‘SEKILALA’, 2006-2008, video still. Image courtesy the artist and Tokyo Gallery + BTAP.

SHIMURAbros

SHIMURAbros are a sister and brother artist duo – Yuka Shimura (b. 1976, Yokohama, Japan) and Kentaro Shimura (b. 1979, Yokohama, Japan). They are known for incorporating elements of new media sculpture, installation and avant-garde filmmaking in their work.

At Art Basel Hong Kong 2014, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP will show SHIMURAbros’ 2006-2008 work entitled SEKILALA, which received the Excellence Prize at the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival. In an exploration of modern alienation and the psychological effects of virtual reality technologies, the experimental film tells the story of a disaffected family as they encounter “bio-furniture”: pieces of living furniture equipped with system engineering.

Takashi Ishida, 'Burning Chair', 2013. On show in the Film Sector, Art Basel Hong Kong 2014. Photo: Kenji Takahashi. Image courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo.

Takashi Ishida, ‘Burning Chair’, 2013. On show in the Film Sector, Art Basel Hong Kong 2014. Photo: Kenji Takahashi. Image courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo.

Takashi Ishida

Takashi Ishida (b. 1972, Tokyo) is a renowned and largely self-taught animator, painter, film artist and Associate Professor at the Tama Art University. The artist has been working professionally since his early teens, when he did live painting performances on the streets of Tokyo. It was his desire to document these performances that prompted him to create animation films.

Takashi Ishida has since produced an impressive body of work and research in this field. At Art Basel Hong Kong 2014, Kyoto-based Taka Ishii Gallery exhibits the video work Burning Chair (2013), which was created by shooting a chalk line one frame at a time as it gradually transforms into a sketched wave. In 2007, the artist received the Most Promising Young Talent Prize of the Goto Commemorative Culture Award.

Wang Haiyang,
’Freud, Fish and Butterfly’, 2012,  video still. Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Paris-Beijing.

Wang Haiyang,
 ’Freud, Fish and Butterfly’, 2012, video still. Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Paris-Beijing.

Wang Haiyang

Winner of the Beijing Today Art Museum’s Young Talent award in 2012, the work of the Beijing-based artist Wang Haiyang (b. 1984, Shandong) is characterised by a labour intensive animation technique: his videos are composed of over two thousand drawings.

According to Galerie Paris-Beijing, who will show his 2012 video animation Freud, Fish & Butterfly at Art Basel Hong Kong, Wang Haiyang has compared his method to the spiritual practice of the Tibetan Mandala:

A monk spends an entire year creating a sand Mandala that is destined to disappear. One might think that there is nothing on this paper, which I have completely erased, but in reality it represents 1325.5 hours in the life of Wang Haiyang.

Sookoon Ang, ‘Exorcize Me’, 2013, video still. Image courtesy the artist and FOST Gallery.

Sookoon Ang, ‘Exorcize Me’, 2013, video still. Image courtesy the artist and FOST Gallery.

Sookoon Ang

The practice of Sookoon Ang (b. 1977, Singapore) spans photography, performance art and film. The work Exorcise Me, originally commissioned as a four-channel video installation by the 2013 Singapore Biennale, revolves around a group of teenage girls dressed in school uniforms with their faces painted as skulls.

The work is a powerful meditation on moments of teenage angst and mundanity, and seeks to draw connections between the emotions of adolescence and universal existential crises. A second work by Sookoon Ang, entitled 1to9 (2009), was also selected by curator Li Zhenhua to be screened at Art Basel Hong Kong 2014.

Rebecca Close

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Related Topics: Chinese artists, Hong Kong artists, Japanese artists, Singaporean artists, art fairs, film, overviews, profiles, events in Hong Kong

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