Art Radar turns the spotlight on the influential, regional contemporary art triennial.
The 8th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8) at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in Brisbane, Australia features more than 80 artists from over 30 countries and includes a dedicated film programme and kids workshops.
On display from 21 November 2015 to 10 April 2016 at Brisbane’s Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), this year’s Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art has a special focus on the role of performance with live performances, video, kinetic art, figurative painting and sculpture. Many of the artworks explore cultural, social and political ideas honing in on the experiences of the artists in their local environments.
The Triennial began in 1993 and this year it is expanding to include, for the first time, artists from Mongolia, Nepal, the Kyrgyz Republic, Iraq and Georgia. The gallery’s curators have worked closely with artists and communities in the region to develop the programme. The opening weekend features artist talks and performances followed by a conference on Monday 23 November 2015. There are also film screenings and an extensive kids programme with workshops from artists from Mongolia, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Iran, New Zealand and Australia.
Art Radar profiles eight artworks and their artists featured in this year’s Triennial.
1. Kalpa Vriksha (India)
A highlight for this year’s triennial, Kalpa Vriksha brings together diverse artistic traditions from eight rural-based communities in India. The various communities have diverse artistic approaches, such as the Warli, Gond and Patachitra communities whose artists employ scroll painting, the Mithila artists who depict histories through vibrant visuals, the Kalighat painting which depict daily life, the Rajwar community who use clay sculpture techniques, and the Kaavad and Phad paintings that tell stories from their song and performance traditions.
Curated by Delhi-based curator Minhazz Majumdar, this project features experimental artists who are developing new approaches to these traditional practices. On the opening weekend, Pardhan-Gond artist Venkat Raman Singh Shyam will discuss his work with Tarun Nagesh, Associate Curator of Asian Art at QAGOMA.
2. Tsherin Sherpa (Nepal/USA)
Tsherin Sherpa is another artist who draws on traditional techniques to explore contemporary themes, such as the feelings of displacement experienced by the Tibetan diaspora as well as issues of commerce and consumerism. While studying Buddhist philosophy, Sherpa was trained by his father in the art of tangka painting. He now builds on this traditional technique, combining it with abstract imagery. He uses ink and acrylic with gold and platinum leaf on cotton and canvas and he works on both small and large scale, with some paintings over three meters.
3. Choi Jeong Hwa (South Korea)
Korean Pop artist Choi Jeong Hwa looks at themes of everyday objects and mass produced materials through sculpture and large scale works. For APT8 Choi suspended a series of beaded strands at QAGOMA’s Children’s Art Centre in a work called Cosmos. During the triennial he will invite children to create mandalas from plastic bottle lids, which will be displayed under his own work.
The use of plastic mass-produced objects that can be consumed and thrown away as trash is in direct opposition to the concept of mandalas, which are labour intensive, sacred and can decompose back into the earth. In this opposition his work questions the experience of consumer culture.
4. Melati Suryodarmo (Indonesia/Germany)
Melati Suryodarmo is a performance, video, photography and installation artist who trained in Butoh dance with choreographer Anzu Furukana, and in durational performance with Marina Abramović. She brings this physical training into her work, infusing her projects with energy to engage with themes of alienation and belonging. In her artistic statement Suryodarmo asserts that for her “the body becomes like a home which functions as container of memories, living organism”.
For APT8, Suryodarmo will present an endurance performance work called I’m a Ghost in My Own House. Over 12 hours, Suryodarmo will grind hundreds of kilograms of charcoal until it is dust. Charcoal is particularly important as a medium as it is a substance that has moved from tree, to wood, to charcoal and then to dust, reflecting the human cycle of life. After the performance, her grey dress and the charcoal residue will remain in the gallery.
5. Anida Yoeu Ali (Cambodia/USA)
Anida Yoeu Ali works in performance, installation, video, images, public encounters and political agitation. An extension of her “Buddhist Bug” series, The Buddhist Bug, Into the Night is a caterpillar-like costume that Ali inhabits in order to investigate displacement and identity through humour, absurdity and performance.
Ali moved back to Cambodia from the United States in 2011, and proceeded to explore her sense of hybrid identity as a Khmer-Muslim who had lived over 30 years outside of Cambodia. Ali used the bug to explore public places around Phnom Penh such as schools, cinemas, restaurants, bars and places undergoing rapid development. With this project she seeks to find the intersections between performing narratives and audience engagement. Her video for APT8 documents these previous engagements with Phnom Penh.
6. Navin Rawanchaikul (Thailand)
Born to Indian parents in Thailand, artist Navin Rawanchaikul uses sculpture, video, painting, installation, photography and performance to investigate themes of identity in a transnational world. Relying on team spirit and collaboration, his work questions the systems of artistic production and engages the public through interventions, social commentary and the incorporation of fictional tales featuring recurring characters.
He first showed at the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in 1996 and returns this year with a series of new works from his production company Navin Production. This retrospective of his career, “Tales of Navin 1–4”, also contemplates ideas of life and death. Accompanying the series is a letter entitled From Navin to Navin (January 2, 2015), which Rawanchaikul has written to himself.
7. Uudam Tran Nguyen (Vietnam/USA)
Spending time between Vietnam and the USA, Uudam Tran Nguyen‘s practice consists of installation, video, painting and sound art. His work often investigates the way contemporary life is changing and the way spaces have been transformed by economic development.
For APT8, Uudam Tran Nguyen presents a new video work, Serpents’ Tails, that contemplates city congestion. It focuses specifically on motorcycles in Ho Chi Minh City, tracking their progress throughout the southern metropolis. This work builds on a previous project, which looked at the depersonalised facemasks and protective capes of the motorcyclists.
8. Yelena Vorobyeva and Viktor Vorobyev (Turkmenistan/Kazakhstan)
Working together since the 1990s, Yelena Vorobyeva and Viktor Vorobyev are conceptual artists analysing everyday life in Central Asia through archival photography. Their multi-layered and often ironic works focus on Post-Soviet realities that affect quotidianity. By focusing on the ephemeral details of daily local life, they look at objects as social metaphors.
Their APT8 project, the Necessary Additions: Home Archive, is a series of digital prints on paper, which the artists have altered with whitewash and pencil. These impersonal photos, which were used on official documents, are a reminder of how people can be reduced to just another unit within a bureaucracy. The artists subvert this by subtly changing the photographs.
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