MoMA’s Doryun Chong is set to join Hong Kong’s M+ museum of visual culture as chief curator, amid intimations of blockers on further city funding.

Doryun Chong is leaving New York’s MoMA to join M+ in September 2013 as chief curator, working under Executive Director Lars Nittve at Hong Kong’s newest museum. The announcement of Chong’s appointment comes just days after rumours about blockers on further funding emanated from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.

Doryun Chong, who will join M+ as Chief Curator in September 2013. Photo by Martin Seck. Image courtesy WKCDA.

Doryun Chong, who will join M+ as chief curator in September 2013. Photo by Martin Seck. Image courtesy WKCDA.

South Korean-born Chong started his career in 1999 at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco before moving to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis between 2003 and 2009. From there, he progressed to associate curator of painting and sculpture at MoMA, where he was responsible for mounting the exhibition “Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde“, selected by The New York Times as one of 2012’s top exhibitions.

Tateishi Kōichi (Tiger Tateishi). Samurai, the Watcher (Kōya no Yōjinbō). 1965. Oil on canvas. Featured in "Toky 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde". Estate of Tiger Tateishi, courtesy The National Museum of Art, Osaka.

Tateishi Kōichi (Tiger Tateishi), ‘Samurai, the Watcher’ (Kōya no Yōjinbō), 1965, oil on canvas, in “Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde” at the MoMA. Estate of Tiger Tateishi. Image courtesy The National Museum of Art, Osaka.

In a press release announcing his new role, Chong said,

I am extremely excited about M+’s vision of creating a unique twentieth and twenty-first century multidisciplinary institution of visual culture. I look forward to working with the already accomplished, diverse team of curators at M+ to build a truly global museum that is also locally rooted and contribute to making Hong Kong a great cultural hub.

Although M+ officially opens in 2017, it has already held a number of exhibitions, including “Inflation“, a show of air-filled works during the inaugural Art Basel Hong Kong 2013. Nittve noted in the press release that the hunt for the right candidate had not been undertaken lightly:

We have been searching for a right chief curator for years and with his extensive knowledge and understanding of the contemporary art scene, not the least in Asia, Doryun is an extraordinary addition to our growing team.

According to The Wall Street Journal Blog, the museum, which is projected to cost USD 709 million to build, will “highlight 20th- and 21st-century visual culture ‘from a Hong Kong perspective and with a global vision’.” Earlier in July 2013 Herzog & de Meuron, the firm behind London’s Tate Modern, were named as the structure’s chosen architects.

West Kowloon Cultural District from the air. Image courtesy Asia House.

West Kowloon Cultural District from the air. Image courtesy Asia House.

M+ is the focal point of the city’s development of a cultural district overlooking Victoria Harbour. The institution has received private donations, notes The Wall Street Journal, such as 1,463 works from Swiss collector Uli Sigg valued at USD 163 million. The West Kowloon Cultural District as a whole was approved for USD 2.8 billion funding in 2008 by Hong Kong city.

However, as The Art Newspaper reports, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council may be less inclined to disburse funds in the near future. Christopher Chung Shu-kun, a member of the Council, planned to block the USD 3.2 billion in additional funding reportedly sought by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, citing what he saw as lack of “caution” in use of original funds.

Reacting to Chung Shu-kun’s proposed blocker, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority announced on Monday, 15 July that it was retracting plans to seek further funding. Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam assured the media that cost containment is top of the agenda:

Past experience shows that, over a period spanning two decades, there could be changes of significant magnitude in the construction costs both upward and downward. We have no plan to seek additional capital injection to the endowment fund at this stage and will review in due course the need to seek additional funding in light of any changes in circumstances and our continued effort of cost containment.

 Cassandra Naji


Related Topics: Museums, recruitment, what’s happening in Hong Kong

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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