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Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Video artist Chen Chieh-jen premieres in UK with Empire’s Borders II

Posted by artradar on October 14, 2010


Following his successful exhibition in the United States, Chen Chieh-jen (b. Taoyuan, Taiwan, 1960), an internationally acclaimed video artist, presents the UK premiere of “Empire’s Borders II – Western Enterprises Inc.” at the Chinese Arts Center in Manchester, UK.

The first iteration of Empire’s Borders, Chen’s critical response to the convoluted systems implemented as a result of Cold War policies, was featured in the Taiwanese Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. In this commissioned work, Chen Chieh-jen examines the history of Taiwan within a globalisation context.



Chen Chieh-jen, Empire's Borders II, 2010, video still.

Chen Chieh-jen, Empire's Borders II, 2010, video still. Image courtesy of the artist.


The show, which runs from 2 October to 20 November this year, showcases a three-channel film installation including an autobiography of the artist’s father, a member of the Anti-Communist National Salvation Army (NSA), a list of NSA soldiers killed during the China offensive, an empty photo album and an old army uniform. Dr. Marko Daniel with Yu-ling Chou as assistant curated the show.

As profiled in the Taiwanese exhibition information on e-flux, “Chen Chieh-jen was born in 1960 in Taoyuan, Taiwan, and graduated from a vocational high school for the arts. He currently lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan. Chen created a series of photographic and video projects that re-imagine, re-write and re-connect his experience of living in a marginalised region and the intrinsic spirit of Taiwanese society, as well as propose possible ways of subverting dominant neoliberal logic.”



Chen Chieh-jen, Empire's Borders II, 2010, video still. Image courtesy of the artist.

Chen Chieh-jen, Empire's Borders II, 2010, video still. Image courtesy of the artist.


On Taiwanese-UK art blog +8 the artist’s career highlights are described: “He represented Taipei in the Venice Biennale in 2009, has been selected for Artes Mundi 2010, was included in the curated shows at the 1999 and 2005 Venice Biennales, the Liverpool Biennial 2006 and is showing in the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial in 2009-10. He has had solo exhibitions at the Asia Society, New York, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía 2008. In 2000, he was awarded the Special Prize at the Gwangju Biennale in Korea and in 2009 he was awarded Taiwan’s prestigious National Award for Arts for outstanding cultural achievement.”

The exhibition is produced as part of the Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival of New Media and Digital Culture in collaboration with the Chinese Arts Centre. It is also supported by the Council for Cultural Affairs, Taiwan.


Related Topics: Taiwanese artists, video art, art events

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Posted in Documentary, Family, Taiwanese, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Artpartment a Hong Kong space for experimental art – video

Posted by artradar on September 21, 2010


We bring you another summary of an [art]attack show by ChooChooTV, this one profiling C&G Artpartment, founded by Clara Cheung, who studied art in the United States for four years, and Cheng Yee Man (Gum), an HKAPA and RMIT graduate. Artpartment is a gallery and studio space in Hong Kong dedicated to the production and exhibition of experimental art.

Artists Clara Cheung and Cheng Yee Man (Gum) on ChooChooTV.

Artists Clara Cheung and Cheng Yee Man (Gum) discuss their Hong Kong studio and gallery C&G Artpartment on ChooChooTV.

We set up Artpartment for two reasons. Firstly we wanted a place to exhibit artworks, like an art gallery or a space for experimental art, and secondly we wanted to create a studio to teach painting. Clara Cheung on [art]attack

The artists own collaboration lies in performance art pieces, mostly conducted on the streets of Hong Kong. Says Gum,

“I totally disagree that an exhibition doesn’t require an audience;… for any exhibition, the more audience you have the better it is. We want to do things that attract people and performing art can provide that. You are forced to view it since we are on location in front of you.”

The video focuses on art created by the pair for the stop motion art group exhibition, “No Money for Art vs. No Time for Art”, held at Artpartment. They use video, drawing and painting to create videos expressing the social aspirations behind their work.

“We went to Poland in September for an art camp, it’s similar to an artist residency programme, and there were a lot of artists from different countries. Our work that we are exhibiting was inspired during that programme.” Clara Cheung on [art]attack

Both artists have strong views about the job of an artist and these are expressed in the video.

“The direction of our artwork is firstly, about our society and secondly, about the art society…. Art should create awareness, it should also be something we’ve not seen before, so the way we should approach art is to use it to reflect the society and political issues.” Cheng Yee Man (Gum) on [art]attack

“Different art media should all be part of the art scene. We need to unite and strengthen the art scene.” Clara Cheung on [art]attack

Watch the video here (length 6:39 minutes)


Related Topics: videos, video art, performance art, Hong Kong artists, artist-run spaces

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Posted in Art spaces, Artist Nationality, Artist-run, China, Drawing, Emerging artists, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Artists, Medium, Painting, Performance, Social, Stop motion, Venues, Video, Videos | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tyler Rollins names top Asian artist line-up for new season

Posted by artradar on September 19, 2010


Tyler Rollins Fine Art has announced its 2010-2011 exhibition schedule. The gallery will present solo exhibitions by four of the most highly respected artists from the Southeast Asian region starting from 16 September, this year.

Tyler Rollins Fine Art is a gallery in New York’s Chelsea area that has a primary focus on contemporary Southeast Asian art; one of the art world’s most culturally diverse and dynamic areas. As the gallery says, its objective is to put the spotlight on some of the most exciting trends in contemporary art, drawing attention to the interconnectedness of today’s globalised art world and fostering inter-cultural dialogue between the East and West.

“Rollins’ timing is perfect: while prices for Chinese works dropped in the fall auctions, Southeast Asian art broke records.” Contemporary Art Philippines

The gallery will first show the Filipino artist, Manuel Ocampo, the most internationally-know contemporary artist from the Philippines. Ocampo has been a vital presence on the international art scene for over twenty years and is known for fearlessly tackling the taboos and cherished icons of society and of the art world itself. Marking his sixtieth solo show, Ocampo will be presenting new paintings and woodcut panels featuring traditional Christian iconography combined with secular and political narratives.
“The theme that comes up again and again is of figures that connect to a sort of myth-induced stereotype, rendered iconic but bludgeoned into a farcical conceptual iconoclasm made absurd by its exaggerated impotence as a carrier of meaning or the esthetics of politics. The paintings are a comment on desire, as painting itself is an object accustomed to this wish of being desirous, yet in the series they have a knack of providing some difficulty to the viewer as the conventions of painting are dismantled to the point of ridicule.” Tyler Rollins Fine Art

Following Ocampo, is Vietnam’s most prominent female contemporary artist, Tiffany Chung. Chung, noted for her sculptures, videos, photographs and performance work, will showcase her works at Tyler Rollins from 14 November to 31 December this year. Inspired by maps of urban regions, Chung’s solo show at the gallery explores the topographic after-images of some of the past century’s most traumatic conflicts.

'Berlin Wall', 2010, embroidery, painted metal grommets, and buttons on canvas. The maps that Chung is showcasing tell us about our relations with the past and our visions of the future. Image courtesy of Tyler Rollins Fine Art.


Moving away from Southeast Asian art, Tyler Rollins Fine Art will also present works by Tracey Moffatt, an Australian artist who is one of today’s leading international visual artists working in photography, film and video. Many of her photographs and short films have achieved iconic status around the world; Moffatt takes her inspiration as much from popular culture and the idea of fame and celebrity as she does from art history.
In January 2011, Tyler Rollins will be featuring her recent photographic series, Plantation, as well as Other, the final work in her video series inspired by Hollywood films.

'Plantation (Diptych No. 1)', 2009, digital print with archival pigments. 'InkAid', watercolor paint and archival glue on handmade Chautara Lokta paper. Tracey Moffatt's eerie pictures delve into a troubled history of exploitation. The man in the image is an alien, an outsider who is not welcomed into the colonial-style house. Image courtesy of Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

As a finale to this artist line-up, Tyler Rollins will be presenting Agus Suwage from March to April, 2011. Suwage is often named as one of the most important Indonesian contemporary artists. Although little of his work has been seen in the U.S., it has been exhibited around the world over the past few decades and is included in most major collections and surveys of Indonesian contemporary art.

Suwage's paintings explore the predominant theme of the self-portrait, employing the artist’s own body and face in a number of guises to address questions of identity and change in his surrounding socio-cultural condition. 'Playing the Fool' (2004) is the artist’s continuing exploration into violence, pain and joy. Image courtesy of Tyler Rollins Fine Art.


Related Topics: promoting art, Southeast Asian artists, gallery shows

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Posted in Art spaces, Australian, Filipino, Gallery shows, Indonesian, International, Lists, Painting, Performance, Photography, Promoting art, Southeast Asian, Video, Vietnamese, Wood | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

India’s Experimenter focusses on the “now” with RAQS and Kolkata location – an interview with Prateek Raja

Posted by artradar on September 16, 2010


For a gallery that is just over a year old, Experimenter, co-owned, run and mostly curated by husband-and-wife duo Prateek Raja and Priyanka Raja, is quickly becoming a critical current in the very new trend of gallery spaces interested strictly in the contemporary. It is a welcome break from the traditional gallery system that regularly falls back on the moderns of Indian art.

A month before the duo heads off to the Frieze Art Fair in London this October, the gallery is wrapping up a show called “This is Unreal“. Featuring artists Susanta Mandal, Yamini Nayar and RAQS Media Collective, the show was conceived by the Rajas as an idea to cohere the multiple realities of modern life.  At the crux of the show is the idea of the manipulation of what is real – artists consistently create and break realities leaving the viewer in a constant state of doubt and speculation. This event marks the eighth show in the gallery’s young but accomplished life.

Art Radar Asia spoke with Prateek Raja from Experimenter about the gallery, the show, the art scene in India generally and in Kolkata; Kolkata is a city that has produced a number of great artists, but lags behind Delhi and Mumbai in the art market scene.

Raja on the Gallery, artists RAQS, Susanta Mandal and Yamini Nayar

The title is provoking. Why “This is Unreal”? Tell us how this project came about.

“This project came about from an initial idea of confronting modern day conspiracies and then filtered down to how everything today is projected as something and is in reality something else. The topic was left open for the artists to interpret in a way they saw fit. However, at this point I would like to say that we work with a different kind of approach. Our shows originate in conceptual ideas first and then we invite artists whose work has been in the kind of direction we are thinking to respond to that idea [or] concept. So all these artists within the realm of their practice have the ability to project multiple realities from the same experience.”

Tell us about yourselves. You are a husband-wife duo – both educated in Asian art at Sotheby’s. How did Experimenter happen for you and how does this partnership work?

“We both had this common urge to work together in the contemporary scene while Priyanka was at Proctor & Gamble and I was consulting on contemporary Indian art. Then she decided to take the plunge in mid 2008 and we opened the gallery in April 2009. In between, we did a short course on contemporary Asian art at Sotheby’s. Priyanka is the planner. She works out all the details. She is the arms and legs of the gallery. I do some of the thinking, but we both do the curatorial thinking together. We do only six shows a year, but believe me, its not easy to plan, ideate and keep a natural flow to the exhibitions for the six that we do. In fact, we balance each other out very well. That’s how this partnership works really.”

Experimenter is invested in capturing the “plurality of expression.” It is also deeply interested in the “now.” Tell us a little about this. How does this show fit into this paradigm?

“‘The plurality of expression’ comes from the inclination to introduce multiple mediums of expression and at the same time challenge the viewers to question established aspects of viewing contemporary art and break pre-conceived notions. It is also very linked into “now” because whatever we show or plan to show is about our generation, is about what is happening now and is reflective of what our society, our values, our systems project “now.” And if you look at people, organisations, governments, and the society around us, you will slowly peel off layer after layer to eventually derive your own understanding of the world, which might be completely unlike what you had originally perceived it to be. So the title does provoke in that sense by calling things unreal. Sometimes, one does not even have to go deep, just viewing an idea from a different point of view gives a completely new meaning to it. That’s the essence of this show.”

Tell us about the works in this show.

“RAQS has contributed three pieces, Skirmish, The Librarian’s Lucid Dream and I Did Not Hear.

Installation view detail of RAQS Media Collective's 'Skirmish', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition from the show "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Installation view detail of RAQS Media Collective's 'Skirmish', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition from the show "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Skirmish is a narrative about an estranged couple continuing their ‘skirmish’ on the walls of an unsuspecting city. The woman paints keys that are similar to the keys to her apartment that she had given to her partner, whom she has since distanced herself from, and the man cannot go anywhere without seeing the keys and recognises what a mockery she is making of his yearning for her. Yet in response he paints padlocks on the walls to continue that skirmish (and in a sense continue the only way of communicating with her) while the city assumes it’s just locksmiths and key-makers that have stepped up their business.

Installation view of RAQS Media Collective's 'Librarians Lucid Dream', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Installation view of RAQS Media Collective's 'The Librarian's Lucid Dream', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

The second work is a wallpaper called The Librarian’s Lucid Dream that forms the backdrop against which Skirmish is installed. It’s an interpretation of a librarian’s dream through just assemblages of texts. These are titles of books but all the titles are mixed up to created new meanings and realities.

The video I Did Not Hear is of a shooter at a shooting range. While the headphones on the viewer lead him or her through an abstract narrative, a rather sinister scaffolding of events is generated by the voice which in turn leads to multiple possible identities and roles for the shooter.

Installation view of RAQS Media Collective's 'I did not hear', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Installation view of RAQS Media Collective's 'I did not hear', as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Mandal creates a kinetic sculptural installation which has a screen and a light source behind that projects an image of a boiling bowl of liquid on an open flame. Using a common scene of ‘cooking something,’ Mandal makes a pun of the phrase ‘cook up’ to express how most things today are indeed cooked up to project a reality quite different from the factual truth.

An untitled installation by Susanta Mandal, as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

An untitled installation by Susanta Mandal, as shown at Gallery Experimenter exhibition "This is Unreal". Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

Nayar’s process is essential to the show. She creates sculptural assemblages from found objects, creates them for the camera, and after photographing them destroys the objects, thereby destroying the physical existence of the source of the photograph. The works form a point of entry into the object but do not quite reveal their actual meaning.”

Pursuit_Archival C Print on Paper. Yamini Nayar. Image courtesy Gallery Experimenter from the show "This is Unreal"

Yamini Nayar, 'Pursuit', archival C print on paper. Image courtesy of Gallery Experimenter.

RAQS Media Collective has come a long way since 1992 when they started out as a group of three media practitioners in the art world. What do you make of RAQS’ growing popularity in the international arts scene?

“They are a super super important artist collective. Any international curator or museum with any interest in contemporary Indian art will know the importance RAQS has on the Indian scene. And how the international market sees India is also defined by the shows that get seen at important venues like the ones that RAQS show in. Their practice is very critical to the Indian scene internally as well. They have some very interesting things lined up this year in Europe. We will also show them solo in February 2011 … and at the India Art Summit in January 2011 in New Delhi within a group show.”

This is your first time working with RAQS, Mandal and Nayar. How was the experience?

“Absolutely fantastic. They are very professional artists. Works and concepts were discussed (that were true to Experimenter’s way of working) over a year ago and we fleshed out ideas to finally put this show on. The most interesting bit is that their work really fits well together.”

Trends in Indian art

Do you think gallery spaces in India are generally not very encouraging for installation art?

“No. I don’t think so. It’s just that this is a growing population and, like all things new and different, installations have some amount of resistance to viewing and experiencing them, even now. From a point of view of being open to exhibiting installation art, there are a bunch of new galleries like us who are doing interesting things.”

Installation art and conceptual art are increasingly popular with Indian artists today. Do you see this as a trend?

“It’s a natural progression of what the Indian art scene is. The newer, younger galleries are looking to show this form of work. You have to know at the same time that the Western art viewing audience also saw this development in other countries several years ago and that’s possibly the trajectory we might see here in India too, but over the medium term.”

Kolkata on the Indian art map

Describe for us the arts scene in Kolkata? Why not set up Experimenter in Delhi or Mumbai?

“Because its the only city in the country where one can have viewers coming back three times over, spending two hours at the gallery. This is a city where art, literature, philosophy and politics all feature in regular conversations with regular people. It’s also a city which is extremely responsive to new forms of cultural influences and it’s fun to stir things up in a somewhat sidelined city!

Opening an Experimenter in Mumbai and/or Delhi would be easy and just another … contemporary space would have been added to the growing number we see today. In Kolkata, you are really making an impact on the visual arts scene with a program like ours.”

What has your experience been working in the Kolkata arts scene? How do you compare it with Delhi and Mumbai?

“Fantastic. For Experimenter at least, we have some very exciting collections in Kolkata that we are adding work to and we are evolving a new generation of collectors. Of course, we make sure that everything is available online – one can show works, do short videos of installations, gallery walk-through videos and share the program with the world. To give a small example, we will be the only Indian gallery at Frieze Art Fair, London this year. We did not apply; they hunted us down and asked for us to apply and we got through in the curated section where there will be only about twenty young galleries from all over the world. We are probably the youngest, too. Experimenter turned a year old in April this year.”

Do you feel it’s difficult to straddle the roles of gallery owner and curator?

“For us, a gallery is an extension of who the owners are. It’s our program. It’s not like a large faceless organisation, so curating shows for the gallery comes with what we want to show and how we respond to things in today’s world as people. So it’s not tough. It’s critical that we put our minds to developing the program in such a way that there is reflection of the ‘now’ in whatever we do. Also, most of our shows are quite political in nature and we like that. We like to make people a little uncomfortable.”


Related Topics: Indian contemporary art, interviews, trends: fact and fiction blur

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Posted in Business of art, Conceptual, Curators, Fact and fiction blur, Found object, From Art Radar, Galleries work the web, Gallerists/dealers, Gallery shows, India, Indian, Installation, Interviews, Kinetic, New Media, Photography, Prateek Raja, Priyanka Raja, Professionals, Promoting art, Sculpture, Trends, Venues, Video, Words | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ArtSway Associate Dinu Li’s new solo exhibition on China’s past and present – two Art Radar interviews

Posted by artradar on September 11, 2010


QUAD Gallery at Derby, UK presents UK and China-based artist Dinu Li’s past, recent and newly commissioned works in a solo showYesterday is History, Tomorrow is Mystery. This show is partly supported by the ArtSway Associates scheme that Dinu Li is a member of. In this interview, Li discusses the creative inspiration behind his works and ArtSway introduces its unique programme, too.

Dinu Li’s work draws together China’s past and present in a range of medium, including photography, film, video and recently performance. Informed by his personal experiences and thanks to his astute observations, he is fascinated by the spaces in between the personal and political, the public and private. Across all his projects, Li has explored these themes: time, space, change, where things come from, where things go to next, the essence of culture and the interrogation of a vernacular.

Family Village, 2009 Installation view at ArtSway’s New Forest Pavilion, the 53rd Venice Biennale. Courtesy of artist

'Family Village' (2009). Installation view at ArtSway’s New Forest Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Image courtesy of the artist.

In 2009, Dinu Li was selected to take up a residency at ArtSway, the contemporary visual arts venue in the New Forest, Hampshire, UK. ArtSway provides full curatorial support, mentoring and advisory support for all of their selected artists. After his residency, Dinu Li was invited to become an ArtSway Associate, a scheme providing legacy support for ongoing development and mentoring with Mark Segal, ArtSway’s director, and other industry professionals.

Art Radar Asia interviewed Dinu Li and ArtSway curator Peter Bonnell to discuss Li’s works and ArtSway’s initiatives.

Dinu Li on his works and inspirations

Your work deals a lot with the passing of time by drawing together China’s past and present. Which elements of China’s past and present do you highlight and put in contrast to each other? And why?

Since 2001 I have spent more and more time in China. Over this period, I have seen and experienced a tremendous amount of change taking place throughout the country, at an epic, breathless and almost seismic scale of transformation. This is most noticeable when walking in a neighbourhood I should be familiar with, only to find it almost unrecognisable a year later due to the way it has developed and evolved. People have also changed considerably in this period. There is a sense of ceaseless appetite to consume ideas, experiences and lifestyles.

As a reaction to all these changes, I decided to collaborate with my mother several years ago, in an exercise to identify and retrace the exact sites of her memories. One of the concepts I am trying to grapple with at the moment is to interrogate the relationship between obedience and power in connections to Confucius and Mao.

How did you first become fascinated by this subject and formulate your creative process? Also, did being away from your motherland play a role in the process?

My initial fascination with China came about as a young child growing up in Hong Kong, when my mother used to tell me stories about our motherland. I remember walking around in Guangzhou wearing my favourite trousers with the letters ‘ABC’ stitched on one leg. This became a point of contempt, as people of all ages called me an ‘imperialist pig’ for daring to wear such trousers in public.

Today, I look back at that moment as both significant and pivotal. Even for a seven year old, I could sense the difference when crossing the border from the British-governed Hong Kong of the 70’s to a China still very much gripped by the ideology of Mao. That demarcation seemed to define how we would live out our lives, depending on which side of the demarcation one is situated. I learnt ones dreams and aspirations are intrinsically connected to the times we live in. And so the approach to my work involves an element of interrogation, and to discover one’s position within a space, and how that space alters in time.

The physical distance from having grown up in the West plays an important role. Whilst the distance gives me a certain vantage point to view things, my perception is nevertheless affected by the media around me, and how China is viewed by Western journalists, politicians, businesses, the art world…

Ancestral Nation, 2007 Installation view at ArtSway, UK, Courtesy of artist

'Ancestral Nation' (2007). Installation view at ArtSway, UK. Image courtesy of the artist.

As an artist closely observing life, do you feel in today’s China that the demarcation is still so binary? Today, many native Chinese move from one culture to another and they may come to discover that China, despite it being their homeland, has layers they knew existed…

Defining China in contemporary times is complex, as the nation is transforming at such a rapid pace. On the one hand, there is a strong sense of nationalism and patriotism, as demonstrated during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. As China expands, the complexity of its national borders becomes increasingly contentious, as its neighbours watch in awe but ultimately in apprehension.

On the other hand, China fully embraces today’s global ideologies, albeit controlled and mediated by central government. Unlike any other time in its history, the China of today is very much integrated with a much wider perspective, which ultimately reduces the feeling of stepping into a different zone when crossing into its borders. Today’s China is equally adept at both Chinese and Western medicine. Walking down a high street, one can find a Starbuck’s as easily as a teahouse. And so the concept of space changing in time is very much in evidence in China.

Dinu Li on his choice of medium

Your works encompass a range of medium. Which medium did you first come into contact with?

Photography was something I came to by accident in my mid-twenties. Up until that point, I had not thought of wanting to become an artist. But as someone who had been dealing with time and space throughout my life, coming into contact with photography seemed like a very powerful intervention, something I could not ignore or resist. It was the perfect medium for me to enter a different juncture in my life, and enabled me to grapple with so many ideas that had been swirling round in my head for so long.

Following that, when did you incorporate other medium and how have you come to that decision?

Once I understood what I could do with a still image, I then wanted to explore different ways of perceiving the world. From that point, I also wanted to integrate and embrace a sense of immediacy within my practice. The immediacy I am talking about can often be found in children, who carry a fearless spontaneity in the way they approach art making. Once I adopt that as a position, it alters the way I work, and so from that point, my practice became more experimental, and I was able to really explore my work by using sound, moving imagery, animation and recently performance.

In particular, how to you decide between using camera and performance?

There is a sense of mediation whether I am in front of or behind the camera, but I guess the difference is in the idea of being inside or outside of something. For instance, there are times when I simply want to be an observer, or play the role of a voyeur. But at other times it may be absolutely necessary to be inside the artwork itself, in which case, performance comes into the fore.

Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is Mystery, 2010 Installation view at QUAD, Derby, UK. Courtesy of artist

'Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is Mystery' (2010). Installation view at QUAD, Derby, UK. Image courtesy of the artist.

Dinu Li on ArtSway and similar programmes in Asia

How has ArtSway helped you in your career, both during the residency and after?

Working with ArtSway exceeded all my expectations of a publicly-funded arts organisation. One of ArtSway’s key strengths is their notion of nurturing a long-term relationship with the artists they work with. It’s an investment they place upon a relationship built on trust. My three-month residency was extremely productive, as not only did I develop new ideas, but was invited by several institutions to exhibit my work, one of which resulted in a newly commissioned catalogue. In 2009, I was represented at ArtSway’s New Forest Pavilion for the 53rd Venice Biennale.

Do you know of any similar programmes in Hong Kong, China or the Asia region?

In 2009, I was selected to participate in a three-month international residency with OCAT in Shenzhen, China. As far as I know, this is one of the few, if not the only, state-funded residency schemes in China. The programme and staff at OCAT were very supportive of my research and went out of their way to help me as far as they could. They also gave me maximum flexibility and freedom to develop my work as I wished, without pressure to arrive at an end point. In that respect, they operated in a similar manner to ArtSway.

Peter Bonnell on ArtSway and their residency programme

We noticed that ArtSway has a range of initiatives and a packed calendar. Broadly, how do you describe ArtSway as an institution?

Open since 1997, the gallery exists to present accomplished and challenging contemporary art works in a supportive and relaxed environment. ArtSway supports artists [through the Residency and Associates programmes] to take risks, and also for the general public to engage with the gallery and work on display – and these visitors come from near and far to participate in workshops, talks and events.

Can you introduce the ArtSway Residency programme’s offerings?

Once an artist is selected for a residency, they can expect our full curatorial, mentoring and advisory support. We very often host artists in residence here in Sway in England’s New Forest, and can offer the use of a free studio space. In addition, artists are given an attractive fee, and funds towards researching and producing new work, as well as travel and accommodation funds. We also provide marketing expertise for their subsequent exhibition in ArtSway’s galleries.

In 2005, 2007 and 2009 ArtSway has presented an exhibition of the work of many previous artists in residence as part of ArtSway’s New Forest Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. This particular exhibition provides a significant international stage for many of the artists we have worked with in the past – with curators, writers and galleries from around the world coming to see their work.

Do artists with a residency all naturally become ArtSway Associates afterwards?

Since the year 2000 ArtSway has supported approximately thirty artists in making new work, but not all of them have become ArtSway Associates. There are currently ten artists who are part of the programme – all of whom were invited to become an Associate.

Many of those who are selected, once approached, felt that the continuing support of ArtSway would be beneficial to their practice. However, many artists who have completed a residency or commission with ArtSway are associated with other galleries, usually ones that represent them and offer an existing high level of support.

View of ArtSway. Courtesy of ArtSway

View of ArtSway. Image courtesy of ArtSway.

How have artists benefited from the Associate programme?

The Associates programme has been a huge success to date – offering all artists involved a great deal of support and funding in regard to such things as website training and development, publications, marketing, critical input, and support and advice from ArtSway Director, Mark Segal on funding applications and proposals. Other industry professionals providing mentoring sessions include Matt’s Gallery director Robin Klassnik.

How do artists with Chinese decent benefit from ArtSway support? Is it necessary that he or she has lived or worked in the UK?

ArtSway does not target artists from any particular ethnic group or country, but we do try to ensure that our various opportunities are available to as many people as possible.

However, we have in the past targeted a specific organisation to work with – such as the Chinese Arts Centre (CAC) in Manchester. The intention was to work specifically with a Chinese artist, and we collaborated with CAC to both develop a strong partnership with a high-level organisation, and also to tap into their expertise and knowledge of the Chinese arts scene.

The artist who was selected for the residency partnership with CAC was Beijing-based photographer and filmmaker Ma Yongfeng – an artist who had not worked extensively in the UK prior to our working with him.


Related Topics: interviews, residencies, venues

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Top Australian media artists introduced at Art Taipei – public lecture by Antoanetta Ivanova

Posted by artradar on September 9, 2010


Ela-Video “Encoded” was a special exhibition organised as part of the broader Ela-Video exhibition held as part of this year’s Art Taipei. Guest curated by Antoanetta Ivanova, also a producer and agent for Australian media artists, “Encoded” aimed to show the diversity and sophistication of media and video art being created in Australia today. Art Radar attended a public lecture in which Ivanova introduced the eight Australian media artists we have listed below.

Antoanetta Ivanova speaking at a public lecture on Australian media art at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Antoanetta Ivanova speaking at a public lecture on Australian media art at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Ivanova manages a company called Novamedia which has been in operation since 2001. Novamedia is unique in that it is the first media arts agency to be established in Australia; their focus is on media and digital art. They provide advice to private collectors and organisations looking to acquire new media works, and also try to generate opportunities to promote Australian media art overseas. An example of this, according to Ivanova, is the “very important exhibition on art and science collaborations” they took to China in 2006.

This list, generated from those artists discussed by Ivanova in her talk, shows “the diverse range of media art” produced by leading Australian proponents in this field. Only one of the artists listed here, Jon McCormack, had work in Ela-Video “Encoded”. The other artists in the exhibition were Jonathan Duckworth, Leon Cmielewski and Josephine Starrs, Martin Walch, Jess MacNeil and Justine Cooper. The artists are listed below in the order Ivanova spoke about them. We encourage you to visit the artists’ websites to explore their work in more depth.

Matthew Gardiner

Matthew Gardiner is most well-known for his work with origami, namely robotic origami. He has completed a number of residencies with major scientific and new media research laboratories and has exhibited his origami work worldwide in galleries and public spaces. He is also the founder and director of Airstrip, a website design company.

“The artist will design his object on the computer and make it for the printer. The final artwork is interactive. The origami has a sensor in the middle and it can sense when people approach…. As you go across it the origami opens and if you move away it will fold in…. He has been making traditional paper origami for many, many years and he lived in Japan…. He translates [a] traditional art form into a very contemporary art form.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Matthew Gardiner's "robotic origami" work, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Matthew Gardiner's "robotic origami" work, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.


Since 1968, Stelarc has undertaken numerous performances during which he manipulates his body, most often in involuntary ways and using mechanical means. As described in his biography, he has “used medical instruments, prosthetics, robotics, Virtual Reality systems, the Internet and biotechnology to explore alternate, intimate and involuntary interfaces with the body.” In addition to his art work, he has been a research fellow and named an honorary professor for numerous Australian and international universities.

“[Stelarc’s] a performing artist. He has attached his body to various machines to show how there is a clash between the body and machinery in contemporary society.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Patricia Piccinini

“[Piccinini’s] a more traditional artist because she makes sculptures but her work raises important issues about the natural environment and artificial nature…. She uses organic … and artificial forms in her work. She’s fascinated by the modern sciences of biotechnology and genetic engineering and she says that if people are disturbed by her work it’s because [it] asks questions about fundamental aspects of our existence. With all these advances in technology, what kind of world are we really making?” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Patricia Piccinini's sculpture work as introduced by Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Patricia Piccinini's sculpture work, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Alex Davies

Davies graduated from The University of New South Wales in 2001 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and is currently a PhD Candidate in the Media Arts department of the institution’s College of Fine Arts. He is a prolific artist who creates his interactive, installation and performance art works using various media including sound and music, video and photography.

“As you go through the exhibition space you will see a … hole to look through. Audiences line up to look through to see what’s on the other side. But all they see is their own back plus a ghost person standing behind them…. The work mixes real time video captures of us and puts another person in there. He also did another [installation with] speakers in the space and you could actually hear people standing around you.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Chris Henschke

Henschke’s most recent work with the Australian Synchrotron is an art and science collaboration that has brought about an entirely new art form – using light beams to create artworks. As explained on the artist’s website, the Synchrotron “allows one to ‘see’ the spectrum of light energy from microwaves to xrays and look at objects at scales of a millionth of a metre.” The artist is participating in a three month residency with the Synchrotron, set up by the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT), in which he will use the technology to create “a ‘synchrotron art’ mural commission.”

Henschke is based in the Australian city of Melbourne and has been working with digital media for the past fifteen years. His main areas of research are in art and science relationships, interactive and hybrid media and experimental audio.

Lynette Wallworth

Lynette Wallworth is an Australian video installation, photography and short film artist who specialises in the creation of immersive and interactive installation environments. Her representing gallery, Forma Arts and Media Limited, describes her work as being about “the relationships between ourselves and nature, about how we are made up of our physical and biological environments, even as we re-make the world through our activities. She uses technology to reveal the hidden intricacies of human immersion in the wide, complex world.”

“People are given a glass bowl and with the glass bowl they go into a dark room and search to capture light that is beamed from the ceiling. When they capture the light, images of deep ocean and deep space are projected into the bowl and then people pass the bowl around to others to experience.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Lynette Wallworth's interactive tactile art, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Lynette Wallworth's interactive tactile art, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Daniel Crooks

Born and educated in New Zealand, Crooks received an Australia Council Fellowship in 1997 to research motion control at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology which brought him to Australia. Since then he has participated in numerous exhibitions in Australia and abroad, working with a range of media including digital video, photography and installation. He is most well-known for his ongoing Time Slice project, begun in 1997, in which he uses the computer to manipulate video images to stretch time.

Craig Walsh

Craig Walsh works predominantly with site-specific large-scale image projection, most often in public places and always created in response to existing environments. He has, for example, projected huge faces onto trees in the Australian city of Melbourne and has projected sharks swimming in water onto the ground (first) floor windows of a corporate building.

“[Walsh’s] work takes a lot of time to develop and very powerful projectors and technology to set up. He works first of all with small block architectural models to the design the projection … and then he [conducts] many tests [to see] how the projection will work…” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Jon McCormack

“Jon McCormack is one of the very few artists in Australia who creates work by writing computer code. He was trained in both art and computer science – he has two degrees. For example, the work we’re showing here at Art Taipei is not an animation…. What you experience is actually the computer making the drawings…. The drawings happen before our eyes – it’s not recorded…. It never repeats…. The artwork is a programme that Jon designed.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Jon McCormack's computer programmed interactive work as displayed at Art Taipei 2010's Ela-Video "Encoded" exhibition on Australian media art. Image courtesy Art Taipei.

Jon McCormack's computer programmed interactive work as displayed at Art Taipei 2010's Ela-Video "Encoded" exhibition on Australian media art. Image courtesy Art Taipei.


Related Topics: Australian artistsbiological (bio) art, new media art, technology, the human body

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Today’s societal image obsession explored in “10000 Lives”, Gwangju Biennale

Posted by artradar on August 31, 2010


Starting from the third of September this year and spanning sixty-six days, “Maninbo – 10000 Lives“, part of the eighth edition of the Gwangju Biennale, will focus on the 21st century’s obsession with images, journalistic or artistic. The Biennale presents itself as a “sprawling investigation of the relationships that bind people to images and images to people.” With works by more than a hundred artists created between 1901 and 2010, as well as several new commissions, the exhibition will be configured as a temporary museum that brings together artworks and cultural artifacts.

Hans-Peter Feldmann, '9/12 Frontpage (detail)', 2001, installation of 151 newspapers. © Hans-Peter Feldmann, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York.

Hans-Peter Feldmann, '9/12 Frontpage (detail)', 2001, installation of 151 newspapers. © Hans-Peter Feldmann. Image courtesy of 303 Gallery.

But why this focus on images? Biennale director Massimiliano Gioni, number 50 on Art Review‘s 2009 Power 100, explains:

Each day billions of images are produced and consumed. More than five hundred thousand images per second are uploaded to a single website. Americans alone take an average of five hundred and fifty snapshots per second. A record of fourteen million USD has been paid for the right to reproduce one single image. We seek comfort in images and carry out wars in their name, we congregate around images, we adore them, we crave for them, we consume them and destroy them.

The intriguing title of the exhibition comes from a thirty volume epic poem by Korean author Ko Un, called Maninbo or 10,000 Lives. The poem comprises over 3,800 portraits in words, describing every person Ko Un had ever met, including figures from history and literature. Like words for Ko Un, images for people today have come to be metonyms for cultures, people and events. While for most this seems to be a concept applicable more directly to photographs and documentary video, artists at the Gwangju Biennale have reportedly worked with a diverse range of media.

A significant part of the power of images today derives from the way the artist merges aesthetics or art with politics. The hundred life-size sculptures of the Rent Collection Courtyard that relate the suffering of the Chinese peasants at the hands of a tyrannical landlord, have become one of the foundational images of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and is being presented at the Gwangju Biennale in its entirety.

Zhao Shutong, Wang Guanyi and the Rent Collection Courtyard collective, 'Rent Collection Courtyard', 1974-78, 100 copper plated  fiberglass sculptures (exhibition view, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2009). © Norbert Miguletz. Image courtesy Gwangju Biennale Foundation.

Zhao Shutong, Wang Guanyi and the Rent Collection Courtyard collective, 'Rent Collection Courtyard', 1974-78, 100 copper plated fiberglass sculptures (exhibition view, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2009). © Norbert Miguletz. Image courtesy Gwangju Biennale Foundation.

The Rent Collection Courtyard was created between 1965 and 1978 by the students, artists and faculty of the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and celebrates the power of images to educate and stir revolutions.

Hans-Peter Feldmann presents us a picture stamped on the minds of world populations. Presented as a collage of images that are distributed within the media, Feldmann produces an assertive archive of visual memory, its persistence hammered into the minds of those who view them.

The Gwangju Biennale was founded in 1995 in memory of the spirit of civil uprising resulting from the 1980 repression of the Gwangju Democratization Movement. In its eighth year, Gioni sums up his vision:

The exhibition 10,000 Lives attempts to present a series of case studies that explore our love for images and our need to create substitutes, effigies, and stands-ins for ourselves and our loved ones. The exhibition unravels as a gallery of portraits or as a dysfunctional family album. It tells the story of people through the images they create and the images they leave behind, but it also follows the lives of images themselves, tracing their endless metamorphoses, from funerary statue to commercial propaganda, from religious icon to scientific tool, from a mirror of ourselves to a projection of our desires.

The Gwangju Biennale will run from 3 September to 7 November this year.


Related Topics: biennales, Korean venues, documentary art, photography, video art

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Follow “The Penguin” to the mountain – Tobias Berger on the NJPAC show

Posted by artradar on August 24, 2010


The Penguin that goes to the Mountain“, an exhibition of contemporary art by young and emerging Korean artists, recently finished up this month at the Nam June Paik Art Center (NJPAC). It took the viewer on a journey from the ordered and well-known to the broken-up and disastrous. Embracing works beyond the visual arts, the exhibition presented practitioners that produced critical and demanding work often relating to the surreal and fictional. Below, Art Radar presents you with images from the exhibition and an interview with NJPAC curator Tobias Berger.

The Nam June Paik Art Center, established to celebrate and illuminate Nam June Paiks avant-garde spirit, finished running “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain” last week. The exhibition displayed various methods of expression, including the visual arts, stage productions, media, theatre and animated films from 23 emerging and relatively unknown artists and artist groups. These include:

Mano AHN, Sungeun CHANG, Eunphil CHO, Yeoja DDAN, Subin HEO, Intergate, Jaechoul JEOUNG, Dokyun KIM, Kimoon KIM, Minkyu KOH, Jihoi LEE, Jinwook MOON, Moowang MOON, Sohyun MOON, Adjong PARK, Seungwon PARK, post-EAT, Jinwoo RYU, Rhee SEI, Joonghyup SEO, Mongjoo SON, Hojun SONG, Vaemo, Donhwi YOUN

"The Penguin that goes to the Mountain", an exhibition held at Korea's Nam June Paik Center this year.

"The Penguin that goes to the Mountain", an exhibition held at Korea's Nam June Paik Art Center this year. Image courtesy of NJPAC.

Focusing on the concept of “intermedia”, the exhibition proposed imaginative alternative ways to look at artistic production. Deconstructing the art center’s existing space and previously defined exhibition criteria this exhibition pushed the boundaries of the working methodologies of all those involved in its preparation and reception – from the artists and curatorial and technical staff, to the gallery assistants, and even the audience.

The title comes from Werner Herzogs 2007 documentary film made in Antarctica called “Encounter at the End of the World. The film chronicles the story of a penguin that leaves its normal habitat for the unknown world of a mountain. The idea for the exhibition came from the fact that pioneering artists such as the late Nam June Paik dared to explore new territories, combining many often unrelated genres.

Art Radar Asia spoke to Tobias Berger, Chief Curator of Nam June Paik Art Center, to find out more about the exhibition.

What prompted “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain”? What is the mission of NJPAC and how does this show fit with that mission?

It was the need to show some young, edgy new work by professionals from different disciplines; the try out of new curatorial concepts by using some ideas from theater productions; to blur borders between the different disciplines. These are all the parts of the misson of what the Nam June Paik Art Center is showing. Paik wanted this to be ‘the house where his spirit lives on for a very long time’ and showing interdisciplinary young works is certainly Paik’s spirit.

Moon Moowang, 'Neurogenic Plything', 2010.

Moowang MOON, 'Neurogenic Plything', 2010. Image courtesy of NJPAC.

Can you tell us about how “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain” is organised? What are the themes?

We took a very strong curatorial approach to the exhibition and it’s basically a voyage from the rather clean and not minimal. The further you go through the exhibition, the more chaotic it becomes and the more difficult it becomes to navigate. There’s a chaotic room, where two walls in the middle are falling down and the works are very tied together … We tried to put in a more kind of theatric setting.

Are there styles or mediums which predominate in “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain”? Why do you think that is?

… we have sculpture to video to photography to big installations. As usual in contemporary art you do have quite a lot of videos.

Moon Sohyun, 'Poisoning of Light', 2007.

Sohyun MOON, 'Poisoning of Light', 2007. Image courtesy of NJPAC.

How did you select the artists for “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain”? What characteristics were you looking for?

I think we looked for artists that really went to the edge or over the edge. That is the idea of this penguin that goes to the mountain. It’s a penguin that leaves the others and just goes this way. We more collected different works. It was not a show where we selected ten artists and asked them to do new works. It was more a show where we saw certain works that fitted into the idea of ‘The Penguin’ or into our curatorial context.

Which of your artists has drawn the most interest at “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain”?

There are some controversial video works that are quite challenging. One is talking about the subject of sex, which is a little bit of an interesting subject in South Korea. The other one is an animated video, where [the subject] kind of begins to cut off her fingernails and then her fingertips and then her fingers. It’s an animation, but it’s also quite visual. I think these works are quite controversial, but also in a good way controversial.

Son Mongjoo, 'The Animals Were Gone', 2008.

Mongjoo SON, 'The Animals Were Gone', 2008. Image courtesy of NJPAC.

The artists in “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain” are all emerging or young artists. What problems do you see for young artists compared with older generation artists working today? In what ways are young artists fortunate, as compared with older artists?

They all have problems and challenges. It’s going to be interesting, how do we justify and how do we not justify them? How do we relate to the art of the older generation? How do we look at it and how do we look at the artist in their mid-career. How do we judge them? You need curators, writers and critics that can evaluate different types of art. Museums can be stiff and kick out the most avant-garde. Maybe because they’re not commercial, maybe they’re a bit too challenging, maybe they’re too critical. So it is the question of the entry into the galleries or the museums or the institutions. A lot of times, the most interesting artists don’t find galleries because if you’re a media artist or performance artist your work doesn’t sell as easily as a painter. But you’re still certainly a much more interesting artist than a certain painter. How do we find a way to deal with that problem? So it has nothing to do with older or younger. It has more to do with genres.

How do you find dealing or working with young artists as opposed to established artists?

They are certainly much more involved in the process and much more interested in what’s going on, more than the established artists that have done big shows in museums many times. For [the young artists], it’s the first time to do an institutional exhibition and that brings a certain tension, but it’s basically good tension that brings out new works and quite interesting work.

Does NJPAC intend to feature other works from students, graduates or emerging artists?

In [“The Penguin that goes to the Mountain”], we cared if the work fitted into the context of the exhibition. Certainly we didn’t care if it was a young artist or an established artist, or if he’s Asian or European. But sure, we will in the future invite students or just-freshly-graduated artists again.

Song Hojun, 'G.O.D.', 2009.

Hojun SONG, 'G.O.D.', 2009. Image courtesy of NJPAC.

Have there been any unusual, unexpected or interesting responses to “The Penguin that goes to the Mountain” from the viewers and critics?

It’s Paik Art Center. People expect tough or different art…. I think the people who come here know what they can expect. There was nothing surprising or unusual, because people expect the surprising and unusual at Nam June Paik Art.

The Penguin that Goes to the Mountain” ran from 5 June until 22 August this year at South Korea’s Nam June Paik Art Center.

Tobias Berger also spoke with us about the Korean contemporary art scene: how accessible it is to non-Korean speakers; the current worldwide popularity of Korean art; the innovative non-profit art spaces in Korea. We will present this interview on Art Radar in the coming weeks.


Related Topics: Korean artists, museum shows, interviews, installations

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World premiere of new AES+F photo collages at Moscow’s Garage Center – video

Posted by artradar on August 10, 2010


Made up of artists Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovitch, Evgeny Svyatsky, and Vladmir Fridkes, internatinoally acclaimed Russian collective AES+F returns once again to Moscow’s Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in the center’s newest exhibition, “The Feast of Trimalchio“.

AES+F, The Feast of Trimalchio. Triptych #1. Panorama #2. 2010, Digital Collage.  Image courtesy of Garage Center for Contemporary Culture

AES+F, 'Triptych #1. Panorama #2', 2010, digital collage. Image courtesy of Garage Center for Contemporary Culture.

Curated by Olga Sviblova, the collective’s interpretation of Satyricon, a work by Roman poet Gaius Petronious Arbiter, features a nine channel video installation of a hotel resort paradise threatened by disaster. The artists’ website states:

the atmosphere of ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ can be seen as bringing together the hotel rituals of leisure and pleasure … On the other hand the ‘servants’ are more than attentive service-providers. They are participants in an orgy, bringing to life any fantasy of the ‘masters’.

The show, which runs from 19 June to 29 August, features both the video installation as well as several brand new, never-before-seen panoramic digital collages.

Watch Garage Center’s short preview of “The Feast of Trimalchio” here (video length, 1:07 mins)


Related Topics: AES+F, Russian, photography, video art

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Rashid Rana show proof of Musée Guimet new contemporary acquisition policy – interview with curators

Posted by artradar on August 5, 2010


Revolutions come far and few in between in the museum world. This season promises to be different. The Musée Guimet, France’s leading ancient Asian art museum, has opened its doors to contemporary Asian art for the first time since its inception in 1898. Leading the transition from the museum’s rich history of antique collections to a contemporary view of art is a show called “Perpetual Paradox”, featuring works by Pakistani artist Rashid Rana.

The director of Musée Guimet Jacques Gies, who is also one of the curators of the show, says of this move,

The museum is much more than a safety-deposit box for antiques. In view of the value of the Asian dynamic in our modern-day world – where Asian cultures are for the first time in Western history making a place for themselves that grows larger every day – the time has come, we believe, to reflect on and reconsider our notion of the museum.

Rashid Rana. Red Carpet. 2007

Rashid Rana, 'Red Carpet', 2007.

Art Radar Asia spoke with Jacques Gies and Caroline Arhuero, curators of “Perpetual Paradox” at the Musée Guimet about, among other things, what the move means for the Musée Guimet and the museum world in general.

Since 1945, Musée Guimet has been home to a prestigious, one of a kind collection of ancient Asian art. With “Perpetual Paradox”, the museum exhibits contemporary art for the first time. What prompts this foray into contemporary Asian art? Does the museum have plans to build a contemporary Asian art collection?

This policy of the ‘Contemporary Factory of Art’ will to be the spearhead of a new acquisition policy, in resonance with the collection. This is in order to extend the historical competency of the museum until the contemporary time and also towards the future.

How did the curators zero down on Rashid Rana?

We heard of the artist’s name from the president of Sotheby’s France, Mr. Guillaume Cerutti, and then we conducted the research and here we are today.

Tell us about the experience of working with Rashid Rana on “Perpetual Paradox”?

With the artist, a very positive working relationship … hearing each other out. So, we were able to well place his works, with his agreement, within the permanent collections of the museum.

How does this experience compare with other shows you have organised?

Last year, at the first ever exhibition of the “contemporary art factory”, with the living artists Hung-Chih Peng and Chu Teh-Chun, we experienced the same great interest for this difficult exercise. Moreover, these artists [are] very aware of the quality of the ancient works [currently in the museum], even showed some concern about this challenge. Only the greatest [contemporary artists] have this modesty.

What challenges have you faced? What have you enjoyed the most? What has surprised you the most as the curator of “Perpetual Paradox”?

They were numerous, as this exhibition by principle requests a tricky solution to avoid “over interpretation”. [We needed to] create dialog between the works, those of Rashid Rana and the historical collection, without over interpretation [and] find the secret link that can give each his dimensions. The greatest satisfaction is that this setting was rewarding because it was just. My surprise was to see the first works by R. Rana – especially the “sculptures” – integrated particularly well [into the museum’s collection]…

The exhibition, “Perpetual Paradox”, places Rana’s “paradoxical” pieces amongst ancient Asian art pieces.  This opens up several dialogs between the past and the present. How have the curators and the artist envisioned this?

The cross-historical dialog is precisely what we want to give [and] to see … integrate the work of a contemporary artist, that with this stimulus somehow our audience may feel the contemporary dimension of the works from the past … the museum can be this link crossing all times. Aren’t we [the viewer] the contemporary of all creations of art, as we receive them in the present, from the paintings [at] Lascaux to contemporary pictures?

Can you name some of the works in “Perpetual Paradox”? How did the curators narrow down on the works?

The selection of the works was made in consultation with the artist. It can be looked at it [in] fives ways: (1) “The Idea of abstract”; (2) “Transcending Tradition”; (3) “Real Time, Other Spaces”, (4) “Between Flesh and Blood”; and (5) “Self in other”.

Rana’s work is truly contemporary in the way he uses technology. His content is driven in some ways by the presence of technology in our lives. But at the same time, his free use of traditional motifs sets him apart from a lot of artists. How would you place this contradiction within Rana’s work? What is it that you think makes him an important artist today?

Here is precisely the paradox! But there is no contradiction between the use of a process, a very modern technology, and the ancient subjects. This is precisely because he assumes both…

This is the second showing of Rana’s work in France, after the first at a group show in 2006. How have the viewers responded to Rana’s work?

It seems this is the first exhibition of this scale in France, certainly for a monographic exhibition. The first ever reactions, including [those] from the staff of the museum, are extremely positive. They see a new step in the policy of the Musée Guimet.

Museum shows are stepping stones in an artist’s career. This is Rana’s eighth museum show in nine years. “Perpetual Paradox” is also his first solo in France. What do you foresee for this prolific artist?

We are convinced of the large stature of the artist R.Rana. It is clear that his name will shine; that he will be an artist contributing to a refocus of the international artistic scene in Asia.

What would you say about the growing interest in Asian contemporary art? Do you see a substantial change in the last, say ten to fifteen years?

Definitely. This is a question we could not imagine five years ago.

Are there more contemporary shows in the pipeline at the Musée Guimet?

Of course. We underline it, a coherent policy with the title “Contemporary Factory of Art in Asia”.

Interview ends.

About Rashid Rana and “Perpetual Paradox”

Trained as a painter, Rana is well known for using a variety of media like photography, video and installations, but dislikes being called a photographer, video-artist or sculptor.

Rashid Rana. Sites_1-C Print+ DIASEC. 60.96cm* 91.44cm. 2009

Rashid Rana, 'Sites_1-C Print+ DIASEC', 60.96cm x 91.44cm, 2009.

In “Perpetual Paradox”, Rana’s work in digital imaging allows him to associate opposing elements in the same piece by inlaying micro-photographic details and creating pixellated images. By associating the seen with the unseen, the artist highlights the hostility between cultures, holding responsible those who create today’s images and therefore play a role in the construction of tomorrow’s traditions. Rana says of his work,

In this age of uncertainty we have lost the privilege of having one world view. Now every image, idea and truth encompasses its opposite within itself.

Rana made his mark on the Asian art circuit with his first-ever international show in 2004 at New Delhi’s Nature Morte art gallery run by Peter Nagy. Thematically, Rana’s work express a solid affiliation with the miniature arts tradition but his fascination seems to be with the idea of “gestalt” – that the whole is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.

For instance, in a 2005 show called “Beyond Borders: Art of Pakistan” at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, Rana’s Creating Identity showed the human body as the sum of a thousand fragmented pieces which were put together in a way such that one could see visible cracks between each fragment. Viewed from afar, the digital print showed people with their gaze affixed at the sky during a National Day Parade. On closer view, it became apparent that the bodies were made up of miniature images of scenes from Bollywood films, an obsession shared by people across the India-Pakistan border.

Similarly in a 2010 show called “Hanging Fire” at Asia Society, New York, showcasing Rana’s “Red Carpet” series, the carpet works as a euphemism for buyable cultural memories and heirlooms.

Rana’s images work to undo the intricate beauty and cultural historicism of the carpet and create a new layer of meaning by appropriating gory, actual photo-images comprising thousands of tiny images, “pixels”, depicting the slaughter of goats as prescribed by Halal law. Rana’s works impact through a series of additions, subtractions, cultural associations and interpretations, all the while challenging one’s “one world view”.


Related Topics : museum collectors, Pakistani artists, museum shows

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