Art Radar Asia

Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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Archive for September, 2009

GREEN: New affordable art fair in Beijing smashes the traditional art fair format

Posted by artradar on September 30, 2009


BEIJING ART FAIR

Light up your senses with fresh, cutting-edge, yet affordable art on the new frontier– that is the proposition of the GREEN Art Fair 2009. Organized by New CAE Media and Air Media, promoters of the established Beijing art fair  CIGE(China International Gallery Exposition Exhibition), the GREEN (Sep 20 – 29) art exhibition will bring thousands of artworks by young artists into the spotlight at China World Trade Center Exhibition Hall in Beijing.

Miss Wang Yi Han, CEO of CAE Media Beijing Chinese Art Exposition’s Medi) and organizer of this art event, talks to Wendy Ma about the concept of the GREEN art exhibition and what differentiates GREEN from all precedent art fairs.

"One of Micke" by Zhang Hui.

"One of Micke" by Zhang Hui.

Q: Why is it called GREEN? What’s the significance behind the name? Does it have to do with social responsibility and sustainability?

Because most artists who participate in this exhibition are young and emerging, the majority of them have never publicly exhibited their work before. Thus the overall style of the show will be rather fresh, future-oriented, and dynamic. GREEN signifies growth, future, and hope, which correspond to the mission of this exhibition.

Q: How is GREEN different from other art exhibitions such as CIGE? What’s so unique about GREEN?

The format of the GREEN art show is utterly different from that of CIGE. CIGE is an exhibition joined by galleries, each of them with an independent exhibition district, targeting at the relatively mature art collectors. Unlike the conventional art exhibition, GREEN is an art entity itself without district or borders. Everything is planned together and sold together. What makes GREEN most distinctive is breaking the traditional art exhibition’s format by presenting a fresh new concept.

"Birth" by Fan Xiao Yan.

"Birth" by Fan Xiao Yan.

Q: Who do you hope will buy the art? Who are the target audience (buyers) for GREEN? What are your expectations?

We hope to attract more of the city’s middle-class for visiting the show and purchasing artwork. While this exhibition aims to provide young artists exhibiting opportunities, its more important goal is to transmit the concept of art consumption to a wider circle of audience.

Q: How do you identify which art is suitable for the fair’s exhibiton categories? Does it always have to do with China?

This is GREEN’s first year of exhibition. All the artwork is done by Chinese artists. In the future it’s possible that GREEN will expand to the Asian or even international sphere. In the era of globalization, the growing environment as well as culture and education among artists from different countries are becoming increasingly similar. So it’s unfair to categorise the young artists’ creations georgraphically.

Q: How do you select the artwork for GREEN? What are the criteria and are there any taboos about certain sensitive subjects? Or is the fair 100% accepting of all types of messages expressed in the artwork?

One is through artist’s voluntary registration. Another one is that we dispatch representatives to the nation’s art academies and cities where artists cluster. After collecting information about numerous young artists, we select the appropriate artists. Our criteria are that the young artist’s artwork must possess a certain artistic value. Meanwhile, it should carry unique personal style. Lastly, the price tag of the artwork shouldn’t be high. We don’t place restrictions on any special topic.

"Fluttering Rain" by Cheng Ya Ding

"Fluttering Rain" by Cheng Ya Ding

Q: In what ways is the art by these less well-known young artists different from art done by the more established names?

So far it seems that style-wise, the work of young artists effuses a more modern, more vivacious, more carefree quality. In terms of their chosen topic it’s more personal and sentimental.

Q: How many participating artists?

So far 260.

Q: Besides giving the young artists opportunities and buyers exposure to fresh young artists, what else is GREEN endeavoring to achieve or to surpass?

"Sticky Fish" by Cui Yu

"Sticky Fish" by Cui Yu

In the past few years the contemporary Chinese art market had been developing rapidly, which led to the situation where purchasing artwork became purely for investment purposes. Through GREEN, we endeavor to convey a certain type of concept and attitude towards art consumption. We hope that more people will purchase artwork for personal pleasure and appreciation, for consumption rather than for investment. Moreover, we hope that galleries can use GREEN as a search for prospective artists with whom they can cooperate.

Q: Why start an art fair now when there is a recession?

Our company has been doing CIGE for the past six years and served many galleries. We possess enormous momentum effects in the overall art market and business development. Due to the economic crisis, the art market in China has been severely affected just the same. The businesses of art galleries have withered, and many art investors have ceased buying. Under these circumstances, we need to do more to continue propelling the influence of art in the society; art exhibitions can help cultivate more art lovers, which can in turn cultivate more new consumption powers for the art market.

Q: Will the artists represent themselves like Gesai in Japan or will galleries take stalls in the fair like usual art fairs?

In a way, it’s similar to GESAI in Japan in that the focus is on young artists’ work. What makes our format different is that we employ a comprehensive, large-scale exhibition. Neither do we divide up the exhibition spaces into independent compartments, nor do the artists have to sell their own artwork at the exhibition – there will be salesmen.

"Diaries of a Fairy-tale" by Luo Cai

"Diaries of a Fairy-tale" by Luo Cai

Q: Do you have any galleries signed up yet? If so, which ones?

There are no participating galleries in this exhibition. It’s a large-scale exhibition with only artwork.

Wang Yi Han, CEO of CAE Media(Beijing Chinese Art Exposition's Media Co., Ltd), standing in front of the banner for the 2009 CIGE(China International Gallery Exposition Exhibition) in Beijing

Wang Yi Han, CEO of CAE Media, standing in front of the banner for the 2009 CIGE in Beijing

Q: Why have you chosen this location? Why not another city?

Because we’ve conducted activities in Beijing before, we are more familiar with Beijing and have found more artists and art enthusiasts in Beijing. The cultural and art scenes are also much more alive, which is ideal for organizing this exhibition. In the future we will also look into other cities that fulfill our requirements.

-Contributed by Wendy Ma

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Posted in Beijing, Business of art, China, Chinese, Fairs, Interviews, Market watch | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Two internship opportunities at Art Radar autumn/winter 2009

Posted by artradar on September 23, 2009


ART INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Art Radar Asia is offering two internship opportunities this autumn/winter 2009.

Although we are not able to provide renumeration, we can promise that you will gain invaluable experience and make many useful, influential and interesting contacts.  As an intern, you will learn to conduct interviews, research art stories and write and edit posts.  There will also be opportunities to learn about publishing on the internet, social media and video production.

While our head office is based in Hong Kong we are used to working remotely via skype and email with our team therefore your location is not important.

We are particularly interested in applicants with one or more of the following skills: writing, editing, Asian language, native English, video production, social media and web design.

The period of the internship is flexible with a minimum period of 6 weeks. We will consider both full-time and part-time applicants.

To apply please send you resume to kate@artradarasia.com. We look forward to hearing from you.


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Shahzia Sikander questions authority with new video art medium at Para/Site in Hong Kong

Posted by artradar on September 23, 2009


PAKISTANI CONTEMPORARY VIDEO ART

SpiNN (2003) by Shahzia Sikander, still image of video

SpiNN (2003) by Shahzia Sikander, still image of video

Art Radar talks to Pakistani miniaturist and video-maker Shahzia Sikander on the occasion of her debut show in China.
The internationally acclaimed Shahzia Sikander spent 2003-2008 performing an in-depth study of the moving image and the fruits of her analysis are on display at “Authority as Approximation,” her first solo exhibition in China at the Para/Site Art Space in Hong Kong.
Curated by Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, the 5 works on display are video art pieces that challenge authority and question existing stereotypes of Pakistani culture.

The exhibition is unique as it stands as her first show comprising only moving images, and continues her practice of critically deconstructing traditional imagery of India and Pakistan.

For this event the venue is transformed into a black-box screening gallery, allowing viewers to appreciate Shahzia Sikander’s treatment of the video medium, which represents a departure from her seminal miniature drawings, and highlights her approach to new media.

The show displays her past video work ‘SpiNN’ (2003), which was shown in the Venice Biennial Arsenale exhibition, and emphasizes her latest film, the video-essay ‘Bending the Barrels’ (2008), which debuted in New York early in 2009. The subject of Sikander’s ‘Bending the Barrels’ is a Pakistani Army military brass band performing in formation, which is examined as a politcal device. On the meaning of this film, cultural critic Aditya Dev Sood explains:

“In her choice of Pakistani Army Bands as a subject for visual capture and representation, Sikander triggers deep resonances from within the tradition of Indo-Islamic miniature painting. The corporeal language, rhythm, space-making and compositional effects that she discovers and creates in film appear rooted in courtly spectacles as well as in their painterly representation, in various Mughal and later Company and British Imperial styles.”

Bending the Barrels (2008), by Shahzia Sikander, still image of video.

Bending the Barrels (2008), by Shahzia Sikander, still image of video.

It’s all about the drawings

Sikander specializes in drawing, and all of her art is conceived in this way and then evolves into various mediums.

As an artist she wears many hats: she also programs animation and operates the camera when shooting film. She creates animations from scanned drawings using the applications Photoshop and Fireworks.

For her film work, she was permitted to operate the camera at the Pakistani military facility herself. However, regarding what medium she chooses, she remarks “the idea dictates the medium.” Unconcerned with medium, she has no preference whether an image is moving or not, and instead chooses what best facilitates communication. However, despite the medium of a work, it will eventually be reflected in Shahzia’s 2D drawings. She comments “Even during filming, it was all research or fodder for drawing.”

Unprecedented Access

Perhaps most surprising about this exhibit is that Sikander, who lives in New York City and is married to an American, was able to gain access into a Pakistani military facility to film original footage of the army’s brass band. Sikander explains that she was allowed inside and permitted to film because she won a military medal in 2003 as an honored Pakistani artist, and was thus granted entry. However, she added that “I find when a project is approached with intent and clarity, I have always been granted access and goodwill has been reciprocated.” Her American husband was also allowed inside the facility to film with her.

Video art: “It’s always been there”

Sikander’s exploration into the moving image reinforces the rising trend of video art. However, Shahzia sees video art as far more than a trend, saying “It’s always been there at the forefront of contemporary expression.” She suggests video art will only become more pervasive, commenting “It’s easier to send a disc, and its immediacy allows for a larger audience… [With Youtube] Everyone now has the freedom to become a videographer.”

The exhibition runs from Sept 2-Sept 30, 2009, at the Para/Site Art Space in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.

-contributed by Erin Wooters

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Posted in Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, Art and internet, Asia expands, Biennials, Connecting Asia to itself, Hong Kong, Islamic art, Miniatures, New Media, Pakistani, Shahzia Sikander, Sound, Sound art, Video, War, Women power | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Acclaimed Vietnamese artist and collector Dinh Q. Le reveals which Vietnamese contemporary artists he is collecting now – interview Wall Street Journal

Posted by artradar on September 23, 2009


by Dinh Q. Le

by Dinh Q. Le

CONTEMPORARY VIETNAMESE ART

Dinh Q. Le, a Vietnamese-American artist and collector, is touted as one of the world’s most acclaimed Vietnamese artists, and his work will be featured in a solo exhibition by  the Museum of Modern Art in New York City next May. However, the journey to his impressive position in the art world has been tumultuous, fleeing violence in Vietnam for the U.S. at the young age of 10, and returning to Vietnam under better circumstances in 1993, 15 years later, to reside in Ho Chi Minh City.

Why does he collect?

He reveals in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that since his return to Vietnam collecting art has been his passion, and he suspects it is fueled from the loss he experienced when he fled to America and was forced to leave everything behind. Somehow, surrounding himself with objects may be compensating for this loss. However, he also comments:

“…A part of me worries that if I don’t buy these objects up, they will disappear from Vietnam. These objects are part of Vietnam’s history, my history. But the most important thing is that I just love to live with these beautiful objects.”

What does he collect?

His collection focuses on Vietnamese ceramics, and he estimates to have about 200-250 pieces from the following eras: northern Vietnamese (Chinese) Han Dynasty terra cotta (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), Oc Eo pottery (1st-7th centuries), ceramics from the Vietnamese Ly Dynasty (1009-1225), and the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400), and Chinese Han, Song (960-1279), Ming (1368-1644), and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

However, he presently focuses on collecting 12th century Ly Dynasty white ceramics, and 15th century Tran Dynasty tricolor works from the Hoi An hoard, found in an area shipwreck.

Who does he collect?

His contemporary collection includes works by Shirley Tse, Brad Spence, Christian Marclay, and Manuel Ocampo, ranging from photographs, drawings, paintings, video, ceramics, and books.

Of Vietnamese artists, he collects Tiffany Chung, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Phu-Nam Thuc Ha, and Tuan Thai Nguyen.

Vietnamese art: not what you’d think

Mr. Le deplores the current (mis)conception of Vietnamese art, which has been reduced to decorative images that are popular with tourists. He has founded an arts organization, San An, which is actively working to change the perception of Vietnamese art.

View full interview with the Wall Street Journal here

-contributed by Erin Wooters

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Posted in Acquisitions, Dinh Q Le, Interviews, Vietnamese | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What is….. contemporary art? A definition

Posted by artradar on September 22, 2009


DEFINITION OF ART TERMS

This is the first in a new series of posts defining art terms in the contemporary art field.

Whether you are completely new to art or already count yourself among the cognoscenti, we hope this series will build your knowledge and confidence. For the new explorer we aim to clarify the basics. For the more experienced this useful refresher will be supplemented by intriguing background facts and details.

For a site which confines itself to contemporary art, we thought we had better start right there….

Definition: contemporary art

Term loosely used to denote the art of the present day and relatively recent past.

Usually avant-garde in nature.

Contemporary art museum definitions

Still confused? It is not surprising. Since the middle of the twentieth century, various museums have been established with a remit to focus on contemporary art. As a result these institutions have developed their own definitions which vary from one to another.

For example the Institute of Contemporary Art in London founded in 1947 champions art from that year onwards. The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York chooses the later date of 1977. In the 1980s the Tate planned a Museum of Contemporary Art in which contemporary art was defined as art of the past ten years on a rolling basis.

And how does Art Radar define contemporary art? Our focus is firmly current so we are interested in art being made today.  However we do delve back in time. For example we like to look at the lifetime oeuvres of living artists and how current works have been shaped by the past. We may also look at the work of artists from any century who have played a part in influencing artworks being made today.

Source: The Tate Guide to Modern Art Terms – Simon Wilson and Jessica Lack

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Picasso of China or voice of dissent: Who is Ai Wei Wei? Profile

Posted by artradar on September 22, 2009


Ai Weiwei's middle finger at Tiananmen.

CHINESE ARTIST PROFILE

Ai Wei Wei is vying with Cai Guo Qiang to become the most famous contemporary Chinese artist in the world claims Artinfo in its must-read quote-dense 4 page profile produced on the occasion of  Ai Wei Wei’s first large-scale solo show world-wide (Ai Wei Wei: According to What? at Mori Art Museum July to November 2009).

Obedient or defiant? Contemporary Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei who was raised in China and has lived in the U.S for 12 years, integrates his social beliefs into his artwork with audacity and temerity.  Behind the title of design consultant for the Beijing Olympics “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium, Ai Wei Wei remains a mystery figure who flaunts multifarious identities:

According to Chinese authorities, he is a dissident to be watched, one whose inflammatory blog needed to be silenced. But to others, the Chinese conceptual artist, architect, photographer, and curator — loathed and loved for his human rights activism — is the courageous voice needed in today’s repressive China.

He’s been called a headline grabber, a master of borrowing from other artists, and a “scholar clown,” and he’s been denounced for criticizing symbols of elitism and authority ranging from New York’s Museum of Modern Art to the Chinese government to the Eiffel Tower.

Ai’s philosophies about society and his willingness to expose and explore the issues are evident in his artwork:

Chandelier by Ai Weiwei. 236 by 165 by 165, crystal, scaffolding, 2002

Chandelier by Ai Weiwei. 236'' by 165'' by 165'', crystal, scaffolding, 2002

Chandelier, a satire of the bizarre Chinese state aesthetic in the shape of half a chandelier that hangs in the museum’s entrance lobby.

Snake Ceiling is a serpentine installation formed from hundreds of new black-and-white backpacks sized for elementary and junior high school students. The coiled snake, suspended from the museum’s ceiling, alludes to an aesthetic form, the snake as ancient monster, and the tragedy and systematic cover-up at the heart of the Sichuan Earthquake Names Project, a focus for Ai’s guerrilla investigative activism.

Map of China by Ai Weiwei. Tieli wood from destroyed Qing Dynasty temples, 20 X 70 X 63 in., 2004.

Map of China by Ai Weiwei. Tieli wood from destroyed Qing Dynasty temples, 20 X 70 X 63 in., 2004.

Map of China (2006) is a 3D object made with intricately-assembled old wood pieces and traditional joinery that poses subtle questions and a critique about China’s perceived domination of Taiwan and regions such as Tibet.

Fairytale, premiering at the exhibition, is a 150-minute film consisting of video and images from Ai’s historic 28-day journey with 1,001 Chinese citizens to the 2007 Documenta 12 exhibition in Kassel, Germany.

Not only does Ai unify art and society in his artwork, he is also an activist blogger on the net.

…the high number of school fatalities was due to local officials siphoning money from school building costs. Grieving families said the structures were badly built and collapsed easily during the quake. But officials refused to list the names of the dead students, which could be used to unveil a possible cover-up, so Ai formed the Sichuan Earthquake Names Project with researchers and volunteers who discovered the names of 5,190 students.

Is it a coincident that he’s also the son of Ai Qing, an enemy of the state?

One of China’s most esteemed poets, he was sent to labor camps in northern Heilongjiang Province and western Xinjiang Province for 20 years for criticizing the Communist regime.

A fighter for freedom of choice, Ai also expresses challenging views about the Olympics last held in China and cultural censorship.

The Olympics became a very superficial activity that didn’t lift China into another possible condition but rather created great difficulties for [Chinese] society today.

China is still culturally under strong censorship, so a state museum would certainly never invite me,” he says. “If I have a show, I don’t want to be censored. … That’s not my principle. I don’t care if I ever have a show in China.

Read full article on ARTINFO for more about Ai Wei Wei: his personality, his canon and his views which have led Artinfo to make a bold statement about the importance of Ai Wei Wei.  After this MAM exhibition and

a larger one opening at Munich’s Haus der Kunst in October, Ai may overtake Cai Guo-Qiang as China’s most famous contemporary artist. Although Cai is a skilled, popular showman famed for his spectacular fireworks display at the Beijing Olympics, his work lacks the depth that is so integral to Ai’s many projects.

-Contributed by Wendy Ma

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Posted in Ai Weiwei, Chinese, Collaborative, Identity art, Installation, Japan, Land art, Large art, Museums, New Media, Overviews, Participatory, Profiles, Shows, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Stop…look again! Work of Iranian activist artist Parastou Forouhar is not what it seems…

Posted by artradar on September 22, 2009


CONTEMPORARY IRANIAN ART

For a revealing insight into contemporary art and its relationship with political and gender issues in Iran today, don’t miss this intriguing interview with Parastou Forouhar in which she describes how she challenges viewers to take a second look.

Parastou Forouhar

Parastou Forouhar, from Series II, Tausend und ein Tag, 2009.

Art by Iranian artist Parastou Forouhar takes on political proportions with her intriguing delicate imagery of torturous acts being perpetrated by Iran’s authoritarian regime.

Political violence is a deeply personal issue for the activist artist, whose parents were the victims of a politically motivated murder in Iran.

In an interview with DB Art Magazine, she discusses this trauma and her artistic style of creating beautiful ornamental artworks, which upon closer inspection reveal twisted scenes of cruelty.

Forouhar, who is now based in Germany, has exhibited at the 2nd Berlin Biennial in 2001, the Global Feminisms show in 2007 at the Brooklyn Museum of Modern Art, and her works can currently be seen in Iran Inside Out — a comprehensive exhibition at the New York Chelsea Art Museum. However, at the moment the artist is “more involved with politics than with art.”

Forouhar says she consciously intended for viewers to first see her ornamental images and feel they are beautiful, and then become shocked when the true subject matter becomes apparent. She says:

I challenge the viewer to take a second look. At first glance, you see the beautiful pattern and think you’ve understood it. And then you get a little closer and realize, no, it’s completely different, I didn’t understand anything at all. To challenge the viewer to take a second look is exciting to me. The viewer is thrown back on himself and is forced to reevaluate his perception.

This compelling interview also covers whether Islamic art is becoming ‘more Catholic’, (and yes, she agrees it is leaning more towards visual Islamic-pop elements and ritual), and questions the attitude of the young male Iranian generation towards their patriarchal past (they are reportedly ‘fed up’ with the traditional masculine character.) Read full interview here.

-contributed by Erin Wooters

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Posted in Activist, Germany, Iranian, Museum shows, Parastou Forouhar, Political | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Short course on Chinese Contemporary Art at AW Asia New York, October 2009

Posted by artradar on September 16, 2009


CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART COURSE

AW Asia is offering a four-part introductory course on Chinese contemporary art “that explores the rise and development of avant-garde art practices in China over the last thirty years”. Taliesin Thomas, Director of AW Asia and MA candidate in East Asian Studies at Columbia University, will lead the course.

Session 1 – From Mao to Now: An Overview of Chinese Contemporary Art

Tuesday, October 6th, 6:30 – 8 pm

This first session presents an overview of Chinese art in the latter half of the 20th century, beginning with a look at the artistic climates in China during the 1960s through the death of Mao in 1976, the opening of China to the West, the emergence of artists’ collectives and key movements, and the development of individual artistic styles through the 1990s. Video screening.

Session 2 – Evening with Melissa Chiu | Director of the Asia Society & Museum, New York

Tuesday, October 13th, 6:30 – 8pm

Melissa Chiu, Director of the Asia Society and Vice President of Global Art Programs, is a leading authority in the field of Chinese contemporary art. She will discuss the work of Chinese artists and their place in the canons of Asian and global art history. Topics outlined in her recent publication, Chinese Contemporary Art: 7 Things You Should Know, will also be discussed.

Session 3 – Visit with Christopher Phillips | Curator, International Center for Photography

Tuesday, October 20th, 6:30 – 8 pm *

This session will take place at the ICP, 1114 Ave of the Americas at 43rd Street In 2004, the International Center for Photography in New York presented a comprehensive exhibition of Chinese photography and video art, curated by Christopher Phillips and Wu Hung. The exhibition, Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, has become a benchmark for understanding Chinese photography in a global arts context. Chris has been actively involved in the Chinese contemporary art scene since its earliest days. He will present an intimate perspective on the artistic culture that is unique to China’s artists and photographers.

Session 4 –  21st-Century China & the Global Art World

Tuesday, October 27th, 6:30 – 8 pm

In recent years, Chinese contemporary art has been thrust into the art-world spotlight, with a corresponding rise in value and increasing dominance at the marketplace. Critics often overlook the fact that China boasts a history of art-making that spans thousands of years, and that Chinese contemporary artists are merely the latest contributors to this lengthy narrative. This final session examines several leading artists in the field, recent market trends, and the maturing vision of Chinese art today.

Contributed by Wendy Ma

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Surprising new direction taken by cadaver artists and Saatchi stars: Sun Yuan and Peng Yu – interview

Posted by artradar on September 16, 2009


HONG KONG CHINESE PHOTOGRAPHY ART

Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, born in the early 1970s and both alumni of the prominent Beijing Central Academy of Art, have a long-established  reputation in Asia for their controversial collaborative installations featuring animals, human tissue and baby cadaver specimens.

In the west they made a big splash in 2008 at the record crowd-drawing Saatchi exhibition of new Chinese art, The Revolution Continues with a satirical work called Old People’s Home (click for video). Both popular and critically-acclaimed, this life-sized 2007 work featured sculptures of decrepit old people “looking suspiciously like world leaders… now long impotent”‘ rolling slowly in wheelchairs around the gallery and occasionally crashing into one another.

Taking a surprising new direction, their exhibition Hong Kong Intervention (Aug 22 – Oct 10) at Osage Gallery delves into the working environments of Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong.

Each of the 100 Filipino participants took a photograph of a toy grenade placed in his or her employer’s home. Sun Yuan and Peng Yu talk with Wendy Ma about whether or not this experiment in spatial intrusion by Filipino maids creates tensions.

Toy grenade placed in the center of a dining room and the back of the Filipino maid. Image courtesy to Erin Wooters.

Toy grenade placed in the center of a dining room and the back of the Filipino maid. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

AR: What inspired you to make photos with Filipino domestic staff?

Two years ago at a square in Central I observed the mass congregation of Filipino girls. I thought it was a very interesting situation since each one is connected to a family in Hong Kong. I started chatting with them and obtained their agreement to volunteer to do the photo shoots. Through them I could intervene in an relationship.

AR: Why do the photographs include the image of a toy grenade?

To intervene, I wanted to use a toy specifically bought in Hong Kong. It was up to them to place it anywhere inside their owner’s house, e.g. inside a garden, on the bed, blending it with the environment. Then they take a photograph of the scene. The toy is a legal product. When your kid plays with a toy grenade, you might find it cute, not dangerous. It was a chance for the participants to exercise their creativity. We wanted to use a very simple object to show how it can open up possibilities.

AR: Is it just a game or does it carry other implications?

It is a game because there are no real consequences. An example of something that is not a game would be the recent incident when a reporter threw a shoe at George Bush. However, it would’ve been a game had he said, “I’m going to throw it at you, first at your head then at your chest.” By not carrying it out, it would have remained just a concept. If something happens in reality, it changes the environment. But right now our work is only a photograph.

The proposition of the game is neutral. It doesn’t carry implications of danger. Last night someone told me that they treat their Filipino maids like guests.

Hidden toy grenade on the book shelve and the male domestic worker. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

Hidden toy grenade on the book shelve and the male domestic worker. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

AR: Why is the photograph of the back of the worker juxtaposed next to the surroundings?

Actually, neither the person nor the environment is significant. They are entities with no individual characteristics. Instead of specifying a particular being, I just want to describe a phenomenon.

AR: What have you found out about their lives and about contemporary Hong Kong society?

One third of the Filipino population live outside their country. They are a special group in Hong Kong. During the week they enter into the homes of different families. On Sundays, they bond and return to their own world. When they work, they disappear into the families of Hong Kong. They play different roles in their working and living environment. They use their culture to communicate. As for us, we work outside the family and we bond when we return to our home. For them, they enter our families to work. It’s the reverse.

Bedroom and Filipino maid. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

Bedroom and Filipino maid. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

AR: Why is the exhibition called Hong Kong Intervention?

Intervention in Chinese can be small (eating a crab) or large-scale (invading a country). It can be magnified in the imagination of readers. You can imagine the explosive possibilities of the toy grenade, despite the fact  that in reality it cannot explode. How the viewer perceives ‘intervention’ is beyond my control.

Intervention can be a strategy to communicate ideas. Ours is the study of a social phenomenon. It does not necessarily mean invasion or changing a situation as it does in the English expression “tossing a grenade”.

Words acquire different meanings in different situations. They cannot be precise. Words cannot express what you actually feel. So art is not expressed through words or titles but through a different means to pull you closer to the underlying meaning.

AR: Are you concerned that the proprietor might feel violated if he saw the photograph of his home on display?

We had no intention to expose individuals. Like I said, the photos of the maids and the homes are not meant to be specifically meaningful; they only a representation and a portrayal of the mass.

Bedroom of a Hong Kong owner and the Filipino maid. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

Bedroom of a Hong Kong owner and the Filipino maid. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

AR: What is the role/identity of Filipinos in your work? Creators, participants, or assistants?

I consider all the participants as collaborators: not just Filipinos, but also the audience involved in the discussions. They are common authors of the work. As part of the contract, we don’t have to give credit to them by listing their names as they transferred the copyright to us.

Contributed by Wendy Ma

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Editor’s note: This post is interesting to contrast with a recent exhibition at Para/Site in Hong Kong in which Filipino domestic helpers were invited to receive manicures given by the Australian artist collective Baba International.  Whereas Baba International sought to nurture and engage with their subject physically, the “‘Intervention”‘ exhibition carries intriguing tones of depersonalisation and violence. Baba was keen to explain the intentions behind their work whereas Sun Yuan and Peng Yu step away and allow the viewer to explore and fully shoulder the responsibility for interpretation.

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Posted in China, Chinese, Collaborative, Documentary, Domestic, Family, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Human Body, Interviews, Migration, Participatory, Photography, Social, Toys, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Two contemporary art museums planned for Moscow

Posted by artradar on September 12, 2009


RUSSIAN ART MUSEUMS

Two new contemporary art museums are planned for Moscow reports Artinfo.

National Centre for Contemporary Art

Facade of National Centre for Contemporary Art

Facade of National Centre for Contemporary Art

Mikhail Mindlin and Leonid Bazhanov, directors of the National Centre for Contemporary Art in Moscow, initiated the plan to establish a new contemporary art museum in the region. The $100 million proposal, although not government-funded, is approved by the Minister of Culture Alexander Avdeev.

Mindlin and Bazhanov face two options: “either wait until the crisis is over or form a partnership with gallerists and local businessmen who show an interest in contemporary art.”

On July 24, the Ministry of Culture invited a number of gallerists and businessmen to its private session.

According to ARTINFO, attendees included:

Gary Tatintsian, owner of Tatintsian Gallery (which recently sold a small Jake and Dinos Chapman sculpture to the center at a discounted price after no one stepped up to buy it following its debut at a group show there four years ago), and Alexey Tsarevsky, head of Horizont Finance Company. Horizont is owned by Valery Nosov, who also owns ArtMedia Group, a publishing house that puts out two art magazines — Art+Auction Russia (a publishing partner of ARTINFO sister publication Art+Auction) and Blacksquare — and an arts and culture Web site, openspace.ru. Tsarevsky promised help from Horizont, including “consulting with the center on the predevelopment level and financial administration of the project.

The goal is to complete the project by 2015.

While in the process of developing a new museum, Mindlin and Bazhanov hope to expand their current museum too:

The two, who would lead the new institution, plan to expand the center’s current home to include 25,000 additional square meters (269,100 square feet) of new exhibition space, as well as a café, storage facilities, and a cinema, among other amenities. Essentially, the center would transition from a small, state-funded institution to a large and complex one, with the new museum inheriting its management and resources.

Their plan is not exactly new. The center already expanded once, in 2004, adding a three-story building as part of a larger redevelopment plan that would have included a large hotel and financed the center’s activities with money from developers. The current proposal adapts the earlier plan to the realities of the current economic situation. For example, with most of Moscow’s building projects on hold, no commercial spaces are planned to accompany the future museum, and it’s unclear if the new project will be subject to an architectural competition.

Stella Art Foundation

That Obscure Object of Art. Collections of Stella Art Foundation. Displayed at the Venice Biennale.

That Obscure Object of Art. Collections of Stella Art Foundation. Displayed at the Venice Biennale.

In tandem, Stella and Igor Kesaev, respectively the director and the funder of the Stella Art Foundation, have recently purchased a Constructivist garage in the centre of Moscow for a planned museum to house their foundation’s collections.

The couple showed their private collection of postwar art in Vienna a year ago, and the foundation financed an Ilya and Emilia Kabakov exhibition at St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum(www.hermitagemuseum.org) in 2005, as well as Culture Minister Alexander Avdeev’s trip to the Venice Biennale for the opening of the Russian Pavilion this year.

Despite the state’s inability and reluctance to provide financial aid, the Ministry of Culture may still provide funds by drawing on Russian businesses.

Russian oligarchs invest in art to rehabilitate their image with the Kremlin, buying works abroad and bringing them (or “returning” them, in patriotic terms) to Russia.

Read full article at ARTINFO

Contributed by Wendy Ma

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Posted in Art districts, Art Funds, Funding, Moscow, Museums, Russia, Russian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »