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Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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Archive for the ‘Professionals’ Category

Contemporary Malaysian art fair encourages tourist dollar

Posted by artradar on September 15, 2010


VISUAL ART FESTIVAL MALAYSIAN ARTISTS GALLERY EXHIBITIONS ART SEMINARS TALKS

1 Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism Festival 2010 or MCAT 2010, organised by Tourism Malaysia, is a new Malaysian visual art festival that is attempting to draw more “high-yield” tourists to the region. To support this festival, the government body has released a useful and comprehensive guide to Malaysian galleries and events.

'Teka Teki' (2010, acrylic on canvas, 152 x 152 cm), by Malaysian artist Masnoor Ramli, is one of the works held in the Aliya and Farouk Khan Collection. Image courtesy of Tourism Malaysia.

'Teka Teki' (2010, acrylic on canvas), by Malaysian artist Masnoor Ramli, is one of the works held in the Aliya and Farouk Khan Collection. Image courtesy of Tourism Malaysia.

Presented as a contemporary art festival, it will showcase art from internationally recognised Malaysian-born artists through a series of seminars and exhibitions. Events began in June this year and will continue through October. Key highlights mentioned in the the press release include:

“… a display of Aliya and Farouk Khan’s personal collection as well as several exciting and vibrant works by some of the best internationally-acclaimed Malaysian artists, both young and established ones such as Abdul Multhalib Musa, who is regarded as one of Malaysia’s leading contemporary sculptors; Fauzan Omar; Annuar Rashid; abstract expressionist Yusof Ghani; Eng Hwee Chu; visual artist/writer A. Jegadeva; Dhavinder Gill and many more.

Other art works that will be showcased include those by Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Hamir Saib, Tan Chin Kuan, Shooshie Sulaiman, Umibaizurah Mahir, Kaw Leong Kang, Anthony Chang, Rajinder Singh, Bayu Utomo, Fauzan Mustapha, Stephen Menon, Ivan Lam and the list goes on. Besides the presence of curators and art collectors during the three-month period, world-renowned speakers such as Mika Kuraya from Japan and Russell Storer from Australia will also be there to conduct the seminars.”

To assist festival attendees in finding their bearings in Malaysia’s contemporary art scene, Tourism Malaysia has put together the “Tourism Art Trail“, a directory of contemporary art galleries, seminars and talks on Malaysia’s contemporary art scene, information on places where art tourists can visit as well as events they can attend or participate in.

The festival is projected to contribute RM115 billion and create two million jobs by 2015.

KN

Related Topics: Malaysian artists, festivals, promoting art

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Posted in Artist Nationality, Business of art, Collectors, Emerging artists, Events, Festival, Individual, Malaysia, Malaysian, Professionals, Promoting art, Venues | 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


BRITISH-CHINESE ARITST PHOTOGRAPHY NEW MEDIA MULTIMEDIA RESIDENCY INTERVIEW

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.

SXB/KN/HH

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

Posted by artradar on September 9, 2010


MEDIA VIDEO AUSTRALIA ARTISTS CURATORS AGENCY ACQUISITION ART FAIR EXHIBITION

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.

Stelarc

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.

KN

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

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MoMA Asia Art Archive collaborate, launch Chinese art projects with public programmes

Posted by artradar on September 8, 2010


CONTEMPORARY CHINESE ART PUBLICATION

Asia Art Archive (AAA) and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) celebrate the completion of two documentary projects that are essential to a deeper understanding of the history of contemporary Chinese art: AAA’s Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990 and MoMA’s publication of Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents. These milestone projects focus on the dramatic development and growth of Chinese contemporary art over the last three decades by documenting, collecting and translating critical discussions, primary materials and key texts.

Left: AAA's archiving project, "Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990." Right: MoMA's publication, "Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents. Courtesy of AAA and MoMA

Left: AAA's archiving project, 'Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990'. Right: MoMA's publication, 'Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents'. Image courtesy of AAA and MoMA.

From the press release:

Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990

The 1980s was a seminal period in China’s recent art history. During this time, many of China’s most celebrated artists attended art academies, held their first exhibitions, and developed the intellectual foundation for the art practices that have contributed to their present success. In order to foster research into this transformative moment in Chinese history, AAA has undertaken a four year focused archiving project; collecting, indexing and preserving rare documentary and primary source materials.

AAA’s largest and most systematically organised archive of documentary material on the period will be freely accessible and open to the public from AAA’s physical premises. It will also be available through a dedicated web portal www.china1980s.org starting this month.

Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents

Despite the liveliness and creativity of avant-garde Chinese art in the post-Mao era and its prominence in the world of international contemporary art, a systematic introduction to this important work in any Western language is still lacking… Arranged in chronological order, the texts guide readers through the development of avant-garde Chinese art from 1976 until 2006.

It is edited by Wu Hung, Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia and Consulting Curator at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. The book will be available at MoMA Stores and online at http://www.MoMAStore.org starting this month.

Public Programme

The co-launch will be accompanied by a series of discussion forums with artists, curators and scholars:

PAST Hong Kong, 7 September, 6.30 pm, Hong Kong Arts Centre

Speakers include: Chen Tong (Artist), Doryun Chong (Associate Curator of Painting & Sculpture at MoMA), Jane DeBevoise (Chair of Board of Directors of AAA), Wang Aihe (Associate Professor, School of Chinese, The University of Hong Kong), Wu Hung (Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia, and Consulting Curator at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago) and Xu Tan (Artist)

Beijing, 9 September, 6.30 pm, The Central Academy of Fine Arts

Speakers include: Doryun Chong, Jane DeBevoise, Song Dong (Artist), Huang Rui (Artist), Wu Hung and Xu Bing (Artist)

Shanghai, 11 September, 4 pm, MadeIn Company (formerly BizArt)

Speakers include: Doryun Chong, Jane DeBevoise, Wu Shanzhuan (Artist), Shi Yong (Artist), Wu Hung and Yu Youhan (Artist)

New York, 15 October, 6:30 pm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

This program presents Jane DeBevoise, Sarah Suzuki (Assistant Curator of Prints & Illustrated Books at MoMA) and Wu Hung in conversation with leading artists and critics. The event will be followed by a reception, where the book will be available for purchase.

Organisers of co-launch: ArtHub Asia (Shanghai), Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong), The Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing), and The Museum of Modern Art (New York)

SXB/KN

Related Topics: books, events, resources

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New Taiwanese book focusses on personal connection with art

Posted by artradar on September 7, 2010


ART HISTORY BOOKS PUBLIC ART PERSONAL CONNECTION TAIWAN SCHOLARS

A Taiwanese scholar has published a book focussing on the stories behind the creation of fifteen of the island’s public art installations. As reported in The China Post and on the Focus Taiwan News Channel, this is the first in a planned series that Lin Chih-ming, also president of The Educational Development Association for Public Art, will write.

Akibo Lee's 'Bigpow', situated near the Zhongshan MRT station in Taipei City, is one of the installations profiled in Lin Chih-ming's new book. Image courtesy of akiboworks.blogspot.com.

Akibo Lee's 'Bigpow', situated near the Zhongshan MRT station in Taipei City, is one of the installations profiled in Lin Chih-ming's new book. Image courtesy of akiboworks.blogspot.com.

To Lin, it is not important that many of the installations he has profiled have not been made by top-selling or popular artists. With this new approach to art-historical recording, Lin wanted to show, as The China Post and the Focus Taiwan News Channel report, “how for many artists or communities the artworks have an emotional attachment.”

“Through these stories, public artwork will no longer seem like cold statues but will actually convey emotion.” Lin Chih-ming

Editors’ Note

Story-telling, and the personalising and humanising of art is something we are seeing more and more of within the contemporary art community. We believe it is part of a larger social trend towards greater connection – initiated in the later part of the 20th century by the development of computers and the technology industry and now crossing into many commercial and social spheres. We believe that it will touch art more and more and as a result, academic art criticism is going to be challenged as new forms of appreciation of and connection with art are developed.

Do you, our readers, have any comments or observations about this “personal connection” trend in art?

KN/HH

Related Topics: Taiwanese artists, scholars, writers, public art

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A testimonial for Chinese contemporary art – Art Radar speaks with Weng Ling

Posted by artradar on August 31, 2010


ART PROFESSIONALS CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART ART HISTORY

Weng Ling has been an essential figure over the course of Chinese contemporary art history. Since graduating in art history from the Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA) in 1989, she has achieved much. In this Art Radar interview, Weng outlines the relationship, as she sees it, between fashion and art and demystifies the perception of her as a “fashion-forward person”, as well as providing insight into the day-to-day activities involved in creating a television art show and running a premier art institution.

She was named director of the Gallery of the Central Academy of Fine Art in 1996, where the likes of Wang Guangyi and Zhang Xiaogang had their first solo shows. In 2001, she curated a breakthrough show called “Towards a New Image: Twenty Years of Chinese Contemporary Painting – 1981-2001”. For the first time, a canon of Chinese contemporary artists showed their works at national museums in China. In 2002, she helped curate the Shanghai Biennale “Urban Creation”. She then moved on to the Shanghai Gallery of Art at Three-on-the-Bund, a high-end lifestyle project backed by Chinese American lawyer and entrepreneur Handel Lee. The gallery enjoyed critical success during the six years under Weng Ling’s direction.

In 2008, she returned to Beijing to run the Beijing Center for the Arts at Ch’ien Men 23, another integrated premier lifestyle development with her long-term business partner Handel Lee. In 2010, she ventured into media to produce and host “Arts China”. “Arts China” was the first in-depth interview program to focus exclusively on the top names in the art and culture world in China, including Xu Bing, Zhang Xiaogang, Zhang Huan, Tan Dun, Cui Jian, and more. Weng Ling blurs the lines between visual art, architecture, design and environmentalism. She collaborates with artists, designers, businessmen, scientists and some of the top institutions and museums in the world.

Art Radar Asia met up with Weng Ling one afternoon to discuss some of her projects.

Weng Ling Portrait, courtesy of Beijing Centre for the Arts

Weng Ling, an essential figure in China's contemporary art community. Image courtesy of Beijing Centre for the Arts.

Weng Ling on “Arts China”

How did you decide to focus on contemporary art when directing the Gallery of CAFA?

It was a natural choice for me. I like art and sincerely wanted to introduce contemporary artists’ reflections on society to a broader audience. I don’t think one has to be a contemporary art connoisseur to have contact with contemporary art itself. Many in the West started promoting Chinese contemporary art because some of the works reflect the conflicts in contemporary Chinese society. After Western capital was injected into the market to raise the monetary value of Chinese contemporary art, Chinese media started following the hype. Neither of the two groups really appreciates Chinese contemporary art based on a very genuine interest in Chinese artists.

Does this partially explain why you ventured into media and produced “Arts China”?

Indeed. The media tends to misinterpret me as a very fashionable person. My work always centers on promoting the most cutting-edge and avant-garde art projects and ideas. So that partially explains why the media could misread me as a “fashion-forward person”. My work can be challenging, as I often face doubt and lack of understanding. This is also the predicament many celebrated artists, designers, architects, directors and musicians find themselves in. So I thought it would be nice to have a casual chat with these friends of mine, in order to showcase the real art and culture figures in China.

The final product looks incredibly real and has a documentary feel to it. How was the process?

It involved a huge amount of work, it sometimes took a full day to record one interview. Luckily, as old friends recounting life and the old stories over all these years, we were very engaged in the conversations. For example, Wang Guangyi looked so carefree on the outside when sharing his longing to hold on to his earliest emotions as a young artist. It was so touching and I almost cried. I have to activate all of the different “channels” in my brain during these interviews, talking like an “insider”. It was quite demanding physically and intellectually. Many museum directors really appreciate “Arts China”, recognising its value in recording Chinese contemporary art history.

Weng Ling on Beijing Center for the Arts

To you, what’s unique about the Beijing Center for the Arts (BCA)?

We are a hybrid art institution between an art museum and a commercial gallery.  On one hand, we discover and promote good Chinese contemporary art that confronts reality and/or has traditional Chinese underpinnings. On the other hand, we are dedicated to promoting collaborations between contemporary art and other disciplines and creating internationally valuable projects. With no precedent in China, it is very interesting to create this space.

It sounds like BCA is your new brainchild, a way in which many of your past experiences can come together naturally.

Yes. Our “BCA Green Art Project” series last year included “Shan Shui: Nature on the Horizon of Art” and “3D City: Future China”, focusing on nature and the urban city respectively. We cooperated with many top-notch artists, architects, scientists, environmentalists and NGOs, governments and businesses from around the world to realise the project. It was a world-wide conversation well beyond the traditional definition of “art”, but a blending of knowledge from many fields. I have previously created fine art exhibitions, city/architecture exhibitions, seminars and have long supported environmental groups and all of these experiences have become a solid foundation for me to draw from to conceive large-scaled cross-disciplinary projects.

So far in your art career, how do you make decisions about which projects to run? Is it based on your instinct, chances, responsibilities or love of art?

I champion artists’ freedom and bravery – this is the “romantic attitude” I hold. Anyone can be an artist and any project can be realised. Creativity has no limit. Whilst I do believe all the work should aim for a high professional standard in its own right, be it music, visual art, design, architecture or others. Like a scientist, I approach each new art project with caution and a rational mind. There are tons of possibilities to create something meaningful in this era in China, and due to this sense of responsibility, I must carefully review all the potential projects.

Weng Ling on crossover collaboration

You have had vast experience collaborating with partners in various fields, including design, architecture, real estate development, and corporate branding. What do you think of the trendy partnership between fashion brands and art?

Many owners of the fashion houses are art collectors who promote the creation of new art. Many fashion designers have fine art training, too. However, Art and fashion must each keep their independence when partnered up – art can easily be overtaken by the commercial demand of the fashion brand. The most meaningful and lasting collaboration is built upon borrowing the strength from the partner to elevate one’s own strength. Both parties must contribute the best of their own strengths.

Unlike their foreign peers, local Chinese businesses aren’t usually used to the idea of sponsoring art. Is that the case in your experience?

Many Chinese entrepreneurs and businessmen are my good friends. I keep learning many things from them, just like from artists. Chinese entrepreneurs have an enduring power to survive in a complex environment. Since the 90s, I have been receiving sponsorship from Chinese companies. They do not necessarily understand art itself, but want to help the ever changing Chinese art scene in any way they can.

On the other hand, the government should really implement policies to encourage corporate sponsorship. The current tax incentive is far from enough. I believe the government’s attitude is like forward-moving water, so as long as we hold an active conversation with them, things can be changed.

Finally, what do you think of the current vibe of the Chinese art scene?

Oh dear, after visiting many institutions in the UK, I have concluded, it’s so not “romantic” (laughs). Because there is no room to challenge myself, and no possibility to challenge the future. The system is so well-developed and built-up over there. Yet in China, there is a force to create something new and we never know what the height of our achievement will be. The historical meaningfulness might be beyond our imagination.

It’s true that China has many problems to deal with, but I am trying to contribute my own bit. The key is to have a humble heart and peace within, no matter which field one is in. The world doesn’t only rotate around people with money, but is transformed by the most creative individuals.

SXB/KN/HH

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A Sunday at Art Taipei – gallery comments, Australian media art, Pearl Lam

Posted by artradar on August 26, 2010


ART FAIRS TAIWANESE ART EVENTS INTERNATIONAL ART ASIAN CONTEMPORARY ART

Art Radar presents a Sunday at Art Taipei 2010 in nine images accompanied by quotes from Korean gallery director Jung Yong Lee and the refreshingly honest Pearl Lam, panel members at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum, five gallerists presenting their thoughts on the fair, and Australian new media artist Josephine Starrs who spoke at the one of the Art Taipei 2010 Weekend Art Lectures.

Pearl Lam, Director of Contrasts Gallery, and Jung Yong Lee, Director of Gana Art, speaking at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Pearl Lam, Director of Contrasts Gallery, and Jung Yong Lee, Director of Gana Art, speaking at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Pearl Lam, Director, Contrasts Gallery, as heard at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum conversation, Asia International Galleries: The Next Movement: “When the price goes up very high it goes down very fast. It happens to design and it happens to contemporary art. So in the last six months people have been very careful and very cautious about contemporary art, but in blue chip artworks like the post-war or the impressionist it is just going up. And there are a lot of private sales, a lot of secondary market sales. So most of the galleries are actually making money from the secondary market.

Collectors are actually referring to the auction prices as a reference and a lot of young collectors need the auction to validate the price. But I have my thoughts about auctions because auction prices, for me, are never accurate unless they are a really high price like 20, 30, 40 million USD 1. Because it’s very easy; you can put a painting in an auction, we can get all our friends sticking our hands up, push the price up…. So my way of seeing things … most of the auction houses are making money from private clients.”

Joanna Li, Fish Art Center, beside Huang Poren's stainless steel sculpture 'What the heck!'. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Joanna Li, Fish Art Center, beside Huang Poren's stainless steel sculpture 'What the heck!'. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Joanna Li, Fish Art Center: “This is my fifth time at Art Taipei. In the past two years we have brought brand new artworks [to the fair] and all the artists are Taiwanese. They’re still young, around 26 years old. We also have modern artists…. We have sculptures, oil paintings. We have sold more medium priced artworks…. [The collectors are] from Taiwan, a few customers are from Hong Kong and China.”

Outside Art Taipei 2010's main exhibition hall. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Outside Art Taipei 2010's main exhibition hall. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Mizuma Sueo, Director, Mizuma Art Gallery (Tokyo, Beijing): “This is our second time at Art Taipei. Today’s audience, there are so many people … but the last three days a little less. It’s a little less than last year. Sales are stable. We have sold some [works by] young Japanese artists and Chinese artists, but we have sold only one piece to a Taiwanese collector. The other pieces were sold to a Korean collector, Hong Kong and Japan. The audience is mainly Asian.”

Inside Art Taipei 2010's main exhibition hall. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Inside Art Taipei 2010's main exhibition hall. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Jung Yong Lee, Director, Gana Art, as heard at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum conversation, Asia International Galleries: The Next Movement: “When the crisis came we had a very hard time,… I’m from a commercial gallery and we have to sell a lot of artwork to maintain our operation. But when the crisis came there were literally no sales for at least six months to over a year. So what we ended up doing was, since we couldn’t find a client who was investing, who was collecting art for their collections, finding clients who were companies and local governments who had a lot of promotional money to spend. We did consulting for companies. We made outdoor sculptures, we decorated lobbies for hotels, the façades of buildings; we did a lot of projects like that. And we also helped to make art parks or small private museums.”

Chen Liu, 'Blue Blossom Standing above the sea', 2010, oil on canvas, 200 x 140 cm. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Chen Liu, 'Blue Blossom Standing above the sea', 2010, oil on canvas, 200 x 140 cm. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Junghwa Ryu, Curator, Arario Gallery (Cheonan, Beijing, Seoul, New York): “Art Taipei 2010 is more organised than the last one. Many visitors are interested in new contemporary art and we feel that the Taipei government has supported the fair well with their policy of focusing on an international base. However, the results for the sales are … not good as of now. Hanna Kim (1981, Korea) and Osang Gwon (1973, Korea) have been paid much attention. I guess in general the Taiwanese love a more light and cozy style than heavy and serious.… They are sensitive to trends and new skills.”

Sculptures by Taiwanese artist Ju Ming. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Sculptures by Taiwanese artist Ju Ming. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

James Hsu and Elise Chen, Ping Art Space (Taipei): “This is our third time here. Obviously it’s more international this year because there are more galleries participating in this art fair and we have collectors from Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia. In the past we would mainly have Taiwanese collectors…. Five years ago there might be just one Japanese gallery here but after this year there is this reputation in Japan that there is a good market in Taiwan. So this year there are 26 galleries from Japan. Also, in Taiwan, we have this history of collecting contemporary art for 20 years [and] after this period of time you can see that the market is getting better and better. Last year the economic crisis affected the market a lot and so this is like a rebound.”

Digital print by Australian media artists Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski, part of their 'Downsteam' installation, as exhibited at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Digital print by Australian media artists Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski, part of their 'Downstream' installation, as exhibited at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Josephine Starrs, as heard at the weekend art lecture, Recent and emerging trends in Australian media art: “This is some of the work that we are exhibiting here at Art Taipei in the <Encoded> exhibition. ‘Downstream’ explores new ways of representing the relationship between nature and culture. We are imbedding poetic text into [satellite] images of landscapes at particular risk from climate change. The work focusses on the degradation of the Murray-Darling, the largest river system in Australia, but it could be any river system in the world that is in danger from changes in climate.

We have changed the satellite imagery to write text in the landscape imagery, as if the landscape is sending us messages. When we started looking at this landscape imagery we noticed that the river almost looked like writing already. So we decided to change the river and embed this text from a famous Australian poem. The words say, ‘and the river was dust’.”

Shen Bo-Cheng's 'Read- Lleine Eschichte Der Photographie (2010), exhibited as part of Art Taipei's MADE in TAIWAN - Young Artist Discovery event. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Shen Bo-Cheng's 'Read- Lleine Eschichte Der Photographie' (2010), exhibited as part of Art Taipei's MADE in TAIWAN - Young Artist Discovery event. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

E.D.Lee Gallery Co., Ltd (Taipei): “We have been to Art Taipei twice. This year it is more international, a lot of foreign galleries have joined us here and there are a lot more people. We have sold many works today. This year all of our artists are from Taiwan. Almost all of our collectors are Taiwanese but we also have collectors from Japan and Korea.”

Yan Chao, 'The Width of the Strait', 2009, mixed media on canvas, 150 x 180 cm. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Yan Chao, 'The Width of the Strait', 2009, mixed media on canvas, 150 x 180 cm. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

We hope to bring you more on Art Taipei 2010 in the coming weeks, including an overview of what was said at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum sessions and public art lectures we attended.

KN

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The 17th Sydney Biennale – Art Radar rounds up highlights, disappointments and critiques

Posted by artradar on August 25, 2010


BIENNALES ART EVENTS AUSTRALIAN ART CONTEMPORARY ART GLOBALISATION ENLIGHTENMENT

With an unprecedentedly high attendance of over half a million visitors, the 17th Sydney Biennale has also been the largest in scale since the biennale was first held in 1973. From 12 May to 1 August, 444 works by 167 artists from 36 countries sprawled out over seven exhibition venues, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cockatoo Island, Pier 2/3, Artspace, the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the entrance court of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. What follows is an Art Radar summary of this year’s artists and events and a collection of comments and critiques made by various arts writers and bloggers.

From European Enlightenment to globalisation

Titled The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, this year’s biennale celebrated the end of European Enlightenment in art and welcomed a new era of shifted balance of power. David Elliott, artistic director of the biennale, spoke to The New Zealand Herald about the breaking down of previous political and geopolitical structures and the changing dispersion of power and knowledge in the present world.

In an effort to explore this new world – a world in which Western superiority is being replaced by equality among different cultures – the biennale selected and presented works from diverse cultures, predominantly Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Scandinavia, Britain and China, works created mostly by artists who are new to international exhibitions.

Diverse art styles, heavy demand for new technologies

As the subtitle Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age suggests, the biennale presented arts with themes that are closely connected to contemporary realities. A recent article posted on c-artsmag mentioned how the biennale pointed to a world which “is fragmented and fractured, hobbled by inequalities and necessitating historical reassessment.” Common themes of the exhibited works include poverty, famine, inequality, environmental despoliation and globalisation.

The biennale presented works of a variety of styles. In Sydney Morning Herald, Adam Fulton describes that,

“The modern art – traversing installation, sculpture, painting, film, cross-media and performance – goes from the sublime (110 Aboriginal memorial poles in the Museum of Contemporary Art) to the bizarre (a giant ship sculpture with oozing foam and pierced baby-doll faces on Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay).”

There was a heavy demand for new technologies to support the audio and visual effects in many biennale works. A review by Colin Ho on ZDNet reports that over 70% of the budgeted expenses for artworks and installations of the biennale were spent on audio-visual and IT infrastructure.

Australian arts were promoted

The biennale represented the largest number of Australian artists in history. 65 Australian artists exhibited their works, and most of the 68 artists who premiered new works were also Australians.

An example is Peter Hennessey’s sculptural work, My Hubble (the universe turned in on itself) (2010), with which visitors can play to modify and create their own universes that they can then view in the eye piece located high in the air.

Peter Hennessey's 'My Hubble', which allows viewers to create and view their own universes, was part of this year's Sydney Biennale.

Peter Hennessey's 'My Hubble', which allows viewers to create and view their own universes, was part of this year's Sydney Biennale.

Another example is Brook Andrew’s Jumping Castle War Memorial (2010). The seven-metre-wide bouncy castle is not designed for the children, but for adults over sixteen only. The plastic-enclosed turrets contain skulls which represent the victims of genocide worldwide.

The plastic-enclosed turrets of Brook Andrew’s 'Jumping Castle War Memorial' contain skulls which represent the victims of genocide worldwide. The interactive installation is part of this year's Sydney Biennale.

The plastic-enclosed turrets of Brook Andrew’s 'Jumping Castle War Memorial' contain skulls which represent the victims of genocide worldwide. The interactive installation is part of this year's Sydney Biennale.

Major Asian artworks at the biennale

Among all the exhibited works, one of the most visited, media-covered and praised artwork was Chinese artist Cai Guo Qiang’s Inopportune: Stage One, his largest installation to date.

Cai Guo-Qiang’s 'Inopportune: Stage One' (2004) is a colossal installation made with nine cars and sequenced multichannel light tubes which create an impression of a series of cars exploding and rotating through space.

Cai Guo-Qiang’s 'Inopportune: Stage One' (2004) is a colossal installation made with nine cars and sequenced multichannel light tubes which create an impression of a series of cars exploding and rotating through space.

The biennale exhibited other Asian premier works including Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Faraday Cage, Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s Hong Kong Intervention and Chinese artist Jennifer Wen Ma‘s New Adventures of Havoc in Heaven III.

Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s premier work 'Faraday Cage' is an installation created with light boxes from his previous “lightening fields” which experiment with photographically imaging electricity on large-format film.

Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s premier work 'Hong Kong Intervention' (2009) reflects on the socio-economic inequity between the now mobile and globalised Filipino domestic maid workforce in Hong Kong and their employers.

Chinese artists Jennifer Wen Ma's premier work 'New Adventures of Havoc in Heaven III', a video installation in which smoke projection beams an animated image of the Monkey King from Chinese mythology.

Go here to view videos highlighting some of the major works in the 17th Sydney Biennale including Jennifer Wen Ma’s New Adventures of Havoc in Heaven III, Peter Hennessey’s My Hubble and Brook Andrew’s Jumping Castle War Memorial.

Mixed response from professionals and blog critics

While the consensus among critics and bloggers is that the Sydney Biennale this year was better than those in previous years, there are mixed comments about the biennale. John McDonald makes a summary of the biennale as a circus which relies too much on the natural ambience of Cockatoo Island. As he wrote in the Brisbane Times,

“This Biennale is as much a circus as ever, with some impressive works and a huge amount of filler. It is a better, more consistent show than the previous Biennale, although it still contains many exhausting hours of video and leans heavily on the extraordinary ambience of Cockatoo Island.”

He also questions whether the diverse selection of works is based on a central theme or just David Elliott’s taste.

“The sheer diversity of this collection makes a mockery of the conceptual framework outlined by the director. He might just as easily have said: ‘These are works that I like, made by some friends of mine.’ Instead, we are subjected to the usual preposterous claims that this art will leave us gasping for breath and spiritually transfigured. If it doesn’t, the problem lies with us, not the show.”

A blogger, writing on Art Kritique, shares a similar view with John McDonald and describes the biennale as confusing, banal and tricksy.

“The Biennale of Sydney is confusing. A friend of mine recently described it as a ‘car crash mishmash’ and she was right, sometimes the unexpected juxtapositions make for magical surprises, more often they leave you with a headache … The inherent ghostly palimpsest of the island’s history, the shapes and textures of architecture and machinery speak so eloquently themselves that much of the work feels banal and tricksy.”

But some appreciated the biennale as being thought provoking and the works as being engaging and of high standard.

“Remarkably coherent and thoughtful, Elliott’s biennale mostly avoids the pitfalls of political correctness by including art that is thought-provoking, engaging and, in some instances, even beautiful.” Christina Ruiz, writing in the Art Newspaper.

“The Sydney Biennale … is usually more Banale than Biennale but not this year. The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, curated by David Elliott, is at turns poetic, ironic, and provocative. With tonnes of interesting artists doing amazing and often very humorous things, from Cai Guo Qiang and Shen Shaomin from China, to Folkert de Jong from the Netherlands, Paul McCarthy from the US, and Kader Attia from France. Roxy Paine’s ‘Neuron’ installation outside the Museum of Contemporary Art is particularly arresting, its stainless steel nerve cell of tree roots exploding in front of the MCA’s rather authoritarian 1930s facade. In my view, it is the best Biennale since the ‘The Readymade boomerang’ curated by René Block in 1990.” Chris Moore, writing in Saatchi Online TV and Magazine.

“The Biennale has a delightfully freewheeling and inclusive spirit, but it is the high standard of the art work, carefully selected and displayed, that makes the big exhibition so enjoyable at all its venues, not just Cockatoo Island … It helps that there is very little art of the ‘my three year old could have drawn that’ school. The easy pose of ironic detachment which sometimes puts people off contemporary art is almost completely absent, or is at least leavened by a political and conceptual eagerness which eloquently expresses the Biennale’s seemingly unwieldy theme, “The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age.” Alan Miller, writing in the Berkshire Review for the arts.

CBKM/KN

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

Posted by artradar on August 24, 2010


KOREAN CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS EMERGING ARTISTS

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.

JAS/KN/KCE

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

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Photography in contemporary Russia – Art Radar speaks with curator Olga Sviblova, AES+F and Igor Moukhin

Posted by artradar on August 18, 2010


MOSCOW PARIS CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION MUSEUM SHOWS

With France-Russia Year 2010 in full swing, Maison Européene de la Photographie (MEP) and the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (MAMM), formerly the Moscow House of Photography, partnered for the photo exhibition “Photography in Contemporary Russia, 1990-2010, currently on display in Paris. Art Radar Asia spoke with Olga Sviblova, curator and director of the MAMM, along with reknowed photographer Igor Moukhin and artist Tatiana Arzamasova of AES+F.

Vlad Loktev, '1:0', photograph, 1999. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie.

Vlad Loktev, '1:0', photograph, 1999. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie.

Olga Sviblova has achieved almost superstar status in the art world for her documentary filmwork, numerous curatorial endeavors and tireless dedication to the arts, especially Russian photography. Art Radar Asia managed to catch up with the busy Sviblova who answered questions about the state of contemporary Russian photography, it’s growth since the early 1990’s and the pervasive misperceptions of Russian contemporary art.

“Russian photography, like Russian contemporary art, is quite unknown in the world,” Sviblova says frankly. “It is much less present when you compare it with photography or contemporary art from another country like America, from European countries like France, like Germany, like Britain.” Such statements seem to contradict the international fame that some Russian artists have achieved such as rising stars AES+F and established names like Oleg Kulik and Igor Mukhin. For Sviblova, however, widespread acclaim for Russian artists is still the exception, not the rule. The curator elaborates further on the effects of the economic downturn on Russian art:

“Russian art was forgotten. And also for Russian art and photography, there were not institutions that could support it … there was also the question that the Russian market inside the country was not constructed.”

It was in this climate that Sviblova founded the Moscow House of Photography, now know as the Multimedia Centre for Contemporary Art, in 1996. That same year Sviblova organised Russia’s first photobiennale, followed by the first Moscow International Photography Festival in 1999. Efforts such as these changed the climate of the art scene.

“So now we have in Russia a completely different situation … we have instutions for art and photography, we have our museums. In another sense photography has started to be open in the Russian region, photography started to be popular and contemporary art started, in the beginning, to be popular.”

Exploring the popularity of photography

For Sviblova, there is no boundary between art and photography, they are part of one another, and photography has always been art. However, photography as a medium has exploded in popularity and is, according to Sviblova, one of the “most important arts today”.

Igor Moukhin, "Moscou", photograph, 1988. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie

Igor Moukhin, 'Moscou', photograph, 1988. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie.

Factoring into the success of photography in Russia are the new freedoms afforded to artists. This new freedom which allows photojournalistic, “street” photography to “show the face of Russia”, a truthful representation of the people, society and Russian life.

“You really can tell that today photography is an extremely popular media. Today nobody asks me if photography is art or is not art; it’s really extremely popular in Russia.”

Russian photographer Igor Moukhin echoed the same ideas when we asked him if photography was being embraced within Russia.

“People have ceased and to look [at] and trust the TV. There is no independent press. And on the Internet  [there are] a lot of photos, photos about today, yesterday, about life, and these photos discuss.”

Moukhin uses the term “direct photo” in reference to his photographs of Soviet youths and comments on the subjectiveness of his photography, saying that it is not universal since context is necessary. To artists such as Moukhin, context and knowledge of Russian history are necessary to grasp the messgae of his “direct” photography. Yet not all Russian photography is specific to Russian experiences. Communication between countries is another factor when examining the popularity of Russian photography. Acknowledging a lack of communication between Russia and other countries, Sviblova highlights the importance of photography as a method to dispel misconcenptions, and to speak about what has happened in Russia in the past and what is happening now.

Nikolai Polissky, La Tour, photograph, 2000. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie.

Nikolai Polissky, 'La Tour', photograph, 2000. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie.

As Olga Sviblova states, the MEP exhibition in Paris presents yet another chance “to show what kind of new photography was born in that time [1990-2010] … we can show what has happened in Russia: on a social level, emotional level, economic level, and political level”. Images of revolution from the first and second Chechen wars also make up an important part of the exhibition and Sviblova stresses how photographers began to tackle issues outside of Russia, on an international level.

“We tried to show history … we tried to show the first and second Chechen wars, what was the Russian strategy … we tried to show the best photographers working at the time … At the same time, we tried to show what happens in the country, we tried to show the youth generation, the old people.”

While some artists use documentary photography to focus on Russian experiences, others use documentary photography to create ties to the rest of the world.  As the birth of “new Russia” took place, contemporary street photography captured it from every angle.

Russian photography, international issues

Although it is one of the most popular types of photography in Russia, the exhibition includes much more than just documentary-style images. What Sviblova calls classical art photography and fashion photography make up the remainder of the show and include names such as Oleg Kulik and Arsen Savadov.

AES+F, 'The Islamic Project: New Liberty', 2003, lambda print. Image courtesy of the AES+F website.

AES+F, 'The Islamic Project: New Liberty', 2003, lambda print. Image courtesy of the AES+F website.

Sviblova also speaks in length about the popular artist collective AES+F, a group that uses photography as a tool to address universal, and often controversial, concepts.  In reference to images from “The Islamic Project” series Sviblova remarks:

“After September 11 their images started to be so famous, distributed through the Internet and often given out without the signature of the artist because it was like popular art. It was not the mirror of reality, but also the magic mirror of the future … AES+F is one of the most sophisticated, one of the most complicated, and at the same time one fo the most magic artist [groups].”

In a brief Art Radar interview with AES+F’s Tatiana Arzamasova, the artist sheds some light on the collective’s use of photography in recent series such as “The Last Riot” and ‘”The Feast of Trimalchio”. “We use photography as a tool,” she remarks.

On the artists’ website they make no attempt to hide their process, showing how they use assorted images as a starting point for the final product. As a collective,the artists of AES, with the exception of Vladmir Fridkes, do not consider themselves “traditional” photographers. When asked if the international community still had misperceptions about Russian art and Russian photography, Arzamasova indicated that the idea of Russian photography as socialist media is still present. “[People] think of Russia as poor…they still think of the Cold War” Arzamasova states. Undaunted by such stereotypes, AES+F continues to stretch the boundaries of what Russian art and photography is considered to be. Olga Sviblova concludes:

“Great photography is not just image and document of reality, it’s much more metaphoric. If you know the language of the artist, you can read the message and through this message you can see not just today, or the past, you can see our future”

Other stand-out artists featured in the exhibition, which will run until 29 August this year, include the Fenso group, Sergui Tchilikov, Vladmir KupriyanovGeorgy Pervov, and Vladmir Fridkes.

EH/KN

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