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Archive for the ‘Domestic’ Category

Tsong Pu discusses six artworks: Part I – Chasing lines across space

Posted by artradar on August 10, 2010


TAIWANESE CONTEMPORARY ART ARTIST INTERVIEW

You may have read our recently published post on a retrospective exhibition of works by Taiwanese contemporary abstract artist Tsong Pu, which wrapped up this month at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM). To follow up on this some say long-overdue show, we asked Master Tsong, with the aid of a translator, to talk about six of his works, selected by us from a huge body of work started in the 1970s.

Even with a career that spans forty years, Tsong Pu is still a prolific artist. He produces at least thirty new pieces, small and large, each year and this year will participate in three to four exhibitions, some joint and some solo. While he does teach at two Taipei art schools, has some private students and often judges art competitions, most of his time is spent creating new works at his studio in Taipei’s Da’an District and at his home in Huayuan Community (花園新城) in the mountainous Xindian City (新店市), on the borders of the sprawling Taipei metropolis.

Taiwanese contemporary artist Tsong Pu.

Taiwanese contemporary artist Tsong Pu. Image courtesy of the artist.

This is part one of a three part series. In this part we explore two paintings, The White Line on Grey (1983) and Chasing the Horizontal Across Space (2008), created more than twenty years apart, which use Master Tsong’s signature techique, a 1 cm by 1 cm “stamped” grid pattern.

For more on what to expect from the second and third parts of this series, please read the notes at the bottom of this post.

I wanted to start with this image, The White Line on Grey. Why was the title chosen, what was the medium, and why did you use that medium, especially at that time, in 1983?

White lines on top of grey color.

During that era, in the 1970s before I studied overseas in Spain, during that period of time there was a lot of new art thinking, creative thinking, emerging internationally, particularly within conceptual art and abstract expressionism. Some of my seniors, masters, launched an abstract art painting campaign and exhibition in Taiwan.

Tsong Pu, 'The White Line on Grey', 1983, mixed media, 194 x 130 cm.

Tsong Pu, 'The White Line on Grey', 1983, mixed media, 194 x 130 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

They were your teachers in Taiwan before you left?

No, no. They didn’t teach me; they had some influence on me because they had an exhibition. They combined Western abstract expressionism together with some of the Chinese traditional art painting and spirit.

I had the basic principles and knowledge from these masters, so I needed to develop some new things. When it came to my generation [of artists], we developed from the foundation they had built and moved forward.

During this period I tried to perform a kind of active art.

Like performance art, or…?

I intended to elaborate more on my process and development and express my differences from them [those master artists]. I tried to create a new way of thinking about art, a new art form.

And so, what was the performance aspect of this exhibition or this work?

Actually, I was no longer doing expression at the time of this painting [The White Line on Grey]; [I was] not into those very passionate paintings with intense emotion.

I understand. You moved away from what the other masters were doing. Maybe opposite, or not quite opposite?

I was not trying to do those action paintings [the abstract expressionist works by the masters before him]. I wanted more calm and dispassionate works. Because this is a canvas [Tsong Pu gestures at the image of The White Line on Grey], a canvas made of cotton or string. And the canvas itself is a kind of knit work. So I’m trying to use the paint’s grey color, then use the wire, the lines, to mix with the color in the horizontal and the vertical. Create grid boxes with the size of about 1 cm.

Like stitched, or just placed? Like thread art?

It’s wire [on the diagonal]. I used a pencil to make the lines, and I used a chop, 1 cm by 1 cm. [There is a detailed video, produced by Main Trend Gallery, which demonstrates Tsong Pu’s process].

It is kind of like Chinese embroidery, which was very well known in the past. The needle [and thread] follow the lines…one by one…. This way it is like stitching coloured paint onto the canvas.

I did not complete this by myself. I had help from my neighbors, some madams and housewives. We would have afternoon tea, chatting and working on this at the same time.

A closer view of Tsong Pu's 'The White line on Grey' (1983).

A closer view of Tsong Pu's 'The White line on Grey' (1983). Image courtesy of the artist.

Oh, so it was a collaboration?

Yes, my whole household, they helped me to finish this one. This feeling is like going back to the good old days when we [Taiwanese people] were in an agricultural society. We had housewives doing knitting and sewing work together, helping each other. So I invited everyone to help me complete this work, just like we were in that period. In Xindian [City], my other studio, I live there now, is in the mountains, and it’s kind of like the countryside.

So, you were using traditional methods and making them new, another way of creating a new painting style by basing it on the old?

Yes. Because of these processes and ideas, this work was totally different to that of my seniors.

So, this work was the first of that kind of painting that was so different in Taiwan?

I’m not very sure. Maybe it is not…. But it is totally different to my seniors’ creations.

Tsong Pu, 'Chasing the Horizontal Across Space', acrylic on canvas, 130 x 193 cm.

Tsong Pu, 'Chasing the Horizontal Across Space', 2008, acrylic on canvas, 130 x 193 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

The 1 cm by 1 cm grid pattern that you make with a chop, I believe this is your most well known style or method, or what most people know of your work in Taiwan or abroad. Is that correct?

This [Chasing the Horizontal Across Space (2008)] uses the same method. I use a chop, too.

So Chasing the Horizontal Across Space and The White Line on Grey are part of a group, a similar kind of style?

Yes.

So the diagonal lines in this painting, what do they mean? Do they have a similar meaning to the diagonal lines in The White Line on Grey?

This one [Master Tsong refers to Chasing the Horizontal Across Space] and this one [Master Tsong refers to The White Line on Grey] have twenty years between them. Everybody is talking about communication, mobile communication, signals. Just like the [computer] monitor; you can see the reflection of the monitor, the light of the monitor. It represents the different kinds of signals in modern society.

So, is this representing many different types of communication crossing each other?

Yes. This [Master Tsong refers to Chasing the Horizontal Across Space] was painted in 2008. In 2008, we were all talking about mobile communication. You look at the computer screen every day, the light from the computer screen. This work tries to express messages delivered via communication in our current world.

And the grid pattern, does it have any relationship, do Chasing the Horizontal Across Space and The White Line on Grey have any relationship to each other, the grid pattern and the overlaying lines?

No. There is no connection. The content is different but the skill, the technical skill, is the same. It’s like a habit. My process and procedure is the same. Just the content is different.

About this series

This Art Radar interview with Taiwanese artist Tsong Pu has been presented in three parts. In part one, Master Tsong discusses two works in which he has used and adapted his most well known technique, a 1 cm by 1 cm grid pattern. In part two, the artist speaks on two very different installation pieces, close in date of construction but not in their theory of development. Part three talks about some of the artist’s most recent installation work.

We have also premised each part with some of the artist’s views on the current Taiwanese contemporary art industry, as developed from his roles as mentor, curator and master artist.

KN

Related Topics: Taiwanese artists, interviews, painting

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Posted in Artist Nationality, Conceptual, Domestic, From Art Radar, Interviews, Painting, Profiles, Taiwanese, Technology, Tsong Pu | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Taiwan’s “father of printmaking” Liao Shiou-ping wins national award – profile

Posted by artradar on March 30, 2010


LIAO SHIOU-PING TAIWAN AWARD PRINTMAKING

Graphic master recognised for ability to blend Eastern imagery and Western technique

Earlier this year, Taiwan’s Council for Cultural Affairs awarded graphic artist Liao Shiou-ping one of three National Cultural Awards. The 74-year-old artist, renowned for blending Western printmaking techniques with traditional Taiwanese and Chinese influences, was recognised for his outstanding contribution to Taiwan culture.

Life #2, 1974

Liao was born in Taiwan in 1936. His father was a civil engineer and as a young child, Liao would often study the building blueprints spread across his father’s desk. His family lived near Taipei’s famed Longshan Temple and he drew on memories of the candles, incense and ghost money for much of his later work.

Shortly after graduating as a painter from the National Taiwan Normal University in 1959, Liao moved to Tokyo, Japan, and then to Paris, France, to further his studies. While in Japan he took graphic design classes, an additional course to his major studies, and here learnt valuable lessons in colour and composition. It was here, also, that he discovered printmaking.

Seasonal Chat VII, 1995

Liao began to study oil painting at the Fine Arts Institute of Paris in 1965 and was pushed by his instructor to discover a unique style for himself. He would spend much of his time wandering the collections of Chinese artefacts in the Guimet Museum which reminded him of the things he saw as a child in Longshan Temple. He developed the Gate series, his first, during this time, creating a uniquely Eastern print genre.

In 1969, Liao received an invitation to exhibit at the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art. He made the decision to relocate to New York with his family. Here he developed his Symbols series; inspiration stemmed from the images and traditions surrounding the Taiwanese Ghost Month. Liao believed that “an artist’s style reflects the rhythms of the society that he lives in.” His works from this period are strongly geometric expressing the symmetry of the city.

Knot X, 1999

The artist returned to Taiwan in 1973 to teach at the National Taiwan Normal University and a year later published The Art of Printmaking, still “the gold standard of introductory texts on the subject in the Chinese language.” He followed this teaching position with a few years teaching in Tokyo and the USA. He didn’t take his family with him this time and therefore undertook all the domestic chores himself. Vegetables, fruit, kitchenware and potted plants feature heavily in his Seasons series, a series which then evolved into both the Gathering and Chat series.

His most recent works are those under the Knots, Life Symbols and Dreams series. Knots developed out of his anger with people who struggle to value their own prosperity. Life Symbols (2000) contains mixed-media collage pieces using oil and acrylic paint, pencil drawing, wooden slabs and 2D painting and printmaking. Liao says these works express “the hidden natural order that permeates even the complexity of modern life, and also a kind of celebratory joy.” The tragic death of his wife in 2002, who died falling off a cliff while birdwatching, inspired his Dreams series in 2003. Here he conveys the duality of yin and yang, life and death, through images of outstretched hands and ghost money.  Although his production has slowed since Dreams he completed a large work entitled Timeless in 2005 and an installation piece called Speechless in 2008.

Life A, 2005

During his career, Liao Shiou-ping has held more than 70 solo exhibitions in New York, Paris, Tokyo and many other cities around the world. His artworks are collected by international museums including, but not exceeding, the British Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo), Taipei Fine Arts Museum and the Shanghai Museum.

Liao founded the Prix de Paris fund with two other educators in 1993. The fund provides support for young artists to study abroad. He plans to donate his US$31,200 in prize money to this fund.

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KN/KCE

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Posted in Collage, Design, Domestic, Painting, Prizes, Profiles, Taiwanese | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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

Posted by artradar on September 16, 2009


HONG KONG CHINESE PHOTOGRAPHY ART

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AR: Why is the exhibition called Hong Kong Intervention?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contributed by Wendy Ma

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

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

Chance to learn where Singaporean art is heading plus two firsts for emerging artist competition Presidents Young Talents at Singapore Art Museum

Posted by artradar on September 9, 2009


SINGAPORE MUSEUM ART COMPETITION

Singapore had a predicament. The city-state needed to find the young artistic voices to represent Singapore at international level art fairs and events. The problem has been solved and future Singaporean art stars are being identified with the inception of the Presidents Young Talents (PYT) exhibition, a contemporary art exhibition series featuring the 4 most promising young Singaporean artists who compete for votes from a discerning public. The President’s Young Talents exhibition first debuted in 2001, organized by the Singapore Art Museum and Istana, butPresidents Young Talents this is the first year with the online voting function that includes an interactive public.

It works like this

Four young artists are chosen by a curatorial committee, and a special work is created by each artist and exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum in the PYT exhibition.

The public can also view artworks and artist biographies online, and is encouraged to vote for their favorite artist via the PYT website from Aug 15th through Oct 31st, 2009.  One of the 4 artists will be declared the winner, and receive a cash prize and art residency abroad, sponsored by Credit Suisse. The winner of the PYT 2009 will be announced on November 6th, 2009 at the PYT Gala dinner.

The artists nominated for the show, curated by Ms. Tan Siu Li, are: Donna Ong, Felicia Low, Twardzik Ching Chor Leng, and the artist collective Vertical Submarine. This is the first year in which an artist collective has been selected to participate, and Vertical Submarine’s inclusion reflects an acceptance of the current changes in contemporary art practices.

For a quick summary Art Daily gives an overview of each work below. However for a more lively description, we encourage you to click through to the particularly well-planned website (link above) where you can see short videos in which each artist discusses the concepts behind their non-traditional intriguing projects.

All the artists will create a new work for PYT 2009, and this exhibition offers a unique opportunity to take stock of where contemporary art in Singapore could be heading.

Donna Ong’s installation will examine the representation of perspective in Eastern as well as Western artistic traditions through a series of layered landscapes.

Twardzik Ching Chor Leng continues her practice of land-based art by inviting the public to reconsider the significance of the Singapore River in history, as well as in our lives today.

Felicia Low, who actively engages with (often marginalised or disadvantaged) communities in her work, will conduct live sessions in the gallery, leading groups of people in an exploration of family and social relationships.

Last but not least, tongue-in-cheek collective Vertical Submarine will present a work-within-a-work, inviting the public into their immersive installation which continues their earlier investigations into the relationship between text, image and representation.

Land art by Twardzik Ching Chor Leng

Editor’s note: We were particularly interested in Twardzik Ching Chor Leng’s plan to siphon an “‘umbilical cord” pipeline of river water through the streets of Singapore to connect the river and art museum. Land art is rare in Asia which makes the artist’s attempt to promote this genre in the confined space of city-state Singapore all the more inspiring.

Space constraints stimulate Singaporean artists?

It is interesting to note that each of the contestants deals with the topic of space in one form or another: from land art to the creation of domestic interiors to the study of perspective as a representation of space.

What the museum staff say

Regarding the exhbition, Mr. Tan Boon Hui, Director Designate of Singapore Art Museum, says:

“President’s Young Talents is SAM’s key platform to introduce Singaporeans to the work of a new generation of contemporary artists. The ‘can-do’ spirit that marks much of the best contemporary art coming out from Singapore now is clearly visible in these new works from Donna Ong, Twardzik Ching Chor Leng, Felicia Low and Vertical Submarine.

While their work has departed markedly from the traditional conventions of what art should look like, it is nonetheless as thoughtful, enjoyable and beautiful as the paintings and sculptures we are more familiar with.

Through such channels as the new PYT microsite, with its information rich content, SAM is working also to make contemporary art accessible to as large a community as possible. As one of the few platforms that regularly provides support to nurture the creation of original local art, SAM hopes to continue growing PYT along with the local contemporary arts scene.’

The President’s Young Talents is on display at the Singapore Museum from August 15th till December 27th, 2009, at the museum’s 8Q SAM art space and you can vote until the end October 2009. Be warned though that the voting mechanism requires input of addresses and phone numbers. We hope that this will be stream-lined in the future to encourage voter participation.

-contributed by Erin Wooters

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Posted in Conceptual, Domestic, Furniture, Galleries work the web, Landscape, Museum shows, Museums, Singapore, Singaporean, Space, Uncategorised | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Embedding the Bed in Public Space – interview Hong Kong artist and ParaSite director Tim Li

Posted by artradar on August 19, 2009


HONG KONG ART

Is there anything more private than your bed at home? So why has artist Tim Li been taking his folding bed out in public onto the streets of Hong Kong? Art Radar learns more:

Tim Li, once an architect and now the Chairman of Para/Site Art Space, held a “Dialogue with the Bed” – a solo exhibition and book launch – at the Fringe Club in Hong Kong (Aug 5 – 14 2009).

In a series of panoramic photography of his nylon bed installation in various corners of Hong Kong, Tim demonstrates his endeavor to bring personal space into public space.

Wendy Ma chitchats with Tim Li about his adventure with the “folding bed” and his views on the relationship between the urban environment and public art.

Pigment Ink on canvas

The West Kowloon Promenade by Tim Li. Pigment Ink on canvas. 2000X700mm. HK$28,000

Q: How long and where have you been traveling with your bed? 

3 years, since 2006. I chose the cities by chance. I first used the folding bed idea in Venice, at the Venice Architecture Biennale, and after that several public art projects in Sham Shui Po. In Paris, too. The whole concept was to get people involved in civic change, try to empower people to talk about their living environment and area – a community building exercise in the form of art creation.

At the time, I was working for the Housing Department. Public housing in Hong Kong had spanned 50 years. Now half of people in Hong Kong live in public housing. We regard it as one of the major urbanization tools for Hong Kong.

Nathan by Tim Li. Mixed Media. 2000X700mm. HK$33,000.

Nathan by Tim Li. Mixed Media. 2000X700mm. HK$33,000.

Q: What memorable or striking experiences have you encountered while lounging in the streets of cosmopolitans?

First of all, I was so amazed when I did my work in Mong Kok, on the Pedestrian Street. It used to be a street for traffic until few years ago it became a Pedestrian Street, where people can walk around and enjoy drama and outdoor performance. It’s a good example to illustrate that a public space can be transformed with a bit of management.  You change people’s mentality. I was kicked out at other places, but here at this spot people encouraged you to do things. People even gave me suggestions to play with the structure.

Another interesting and educational encounter was in Times Square (Radar note: an enormous retail and office development by Wharf which incorporates a piazza about which there has been controversy over what belongs to the public and what belongs to the developer). In the past, people deemed it as belonging to the developer owner. After the court case, people realized that these spaces should be used by public. While I was displaying work there, the security came to me and warned, “You’re blocking the circulation.” Unless there were other complaints, I didn’t think it was a problem.

Our Square by Tim Li. Mixed Media. 2000X700mm. HK$33,000.

Our Square by Tim Li. Mixed Media. 2000X700mm. HK$33,000.

Q: What management do you think is best for that?

For public space, negotiation is necessary. You don’t want to be used by several people who dominate the whole space. There’s no right or wrong answer. Flexible management allows possibility.

So even though a government sanctioned the space, it’s not run by the government.

HSBC 2 by Tim Li. Pigment Ink on canvas. 2000X700mm. HK$18,000.

HSBC 2 by Tim Li. Pigment Ink on canvas. 2000X700mm. HK$18,000.

Q: How did people from different parts of the world react to the folding bed idea?

People in Venice have never seen the folding bed. So interestingly, people asked me, “Where did you buy that?” Even in Paris, people posed similar questions, “Where was it made? Did you make it yourself?” They looked at the utilization side of it.

I didn’t encounter friction at all in Europe. People simply thought that I was a student. They were not surprised. But people in Hong Kong were more curious; they wondered if I was shooting a film.

Q: Do you have a favorite city or place? 

Hong Kong. I displayed the folding bed in West Kowloon, Mong Kok, Times Square, Sham Shui Po, and the Anderson Quarry in Sai Kung.

My favorite piece was the tunnel. It was so unique in that it was a space only for circulation. Like the tunnel in other parts of the world, there are neither restaurants nor shops. In a way it’s universal and presents infinite possibilities.

Q: What does the bed symbolize?

I was looking at the history of urbanization in Hong Kong since half of the people live in public housing. When it started 50 years ago, it was built according to a module of a bed. The bed is related to the urbanization process of Hong Kong. Moreover, “bed” is the most private space in our city. Bringing a private space into a public space is the ultimate intervention.

Our City 2 by Tim Li. Pigment ink on acid free paper. 280X700mm. HK$3,000.

Our City 2 by Tim Li. Pigment ink on acid free paper. 280X700mm. HK$3,000.

Q: Does the consistent usage of the color red for your folding bed have any significance?

Red is more prominent. The red, blue and white stripes on the canvas can enhance the power.

Q: And what about the horizontal, strip-lined frame?

I’m an architect, so I could go to different construction sites. I did a set of photographs with my phone, which had the panoramic format. It’s quite intriguing. To capture more of the panorama, I manipulated the images and did a series of ten for another project called My Family.

The 70’s were a redevelopment phase in the urban area in Hong Kong. 20 years later, the buildings were turned into another site. People only remembered about the developers and architects, but not the workers who built it. However, these workers could be some friends of yours, so they were actually part of you. It’s about people’s connection to time and space.

Q: How does your folding bed idea relate to public space?

The folding bed is just a concept to highlight the disappearing aspects of our culture. The main ideas are how to divide public space, how we found our public space, how we use it – these are the foundations of public art. There are many ways to use our public space and to debate about our city. Public art can serve as the medium to communicate with the people: to lead them to think about their living environment as well as to engage them in the discussion of what they want for their living environment.

It’s an attempt to get people to realize that they have ownership – not just responsibilities, but also possibilities that should come in the smallest scale, for communication purpose in revolutions. You can engage people to give their views about something. In Taiwan or other developed cities, public art is an apparatus for civilization, for the development of democratic societies. By pushing cultures, I hope it can be a tool for community building.

More about the Artist behind the Folding Bed

IMG_2637

Tim Li before his artwork. Photography by Erin Wooters.

Q: Is it difficult to combine your role as the chairman of Para/Site with being an artist?

Of course. I started to participate in Para/Site in 1997. Then I joined the Board of Directors in 2000. Since I was supposed to promote art and give opportunities to artists, it was hard to put my own work against others. Due to conflicts of interests, I’ve been low-key about my creations. After we shifted the responsibilities from the director of art space to the creator art space, I have more time for my personal pursuits. On top of studying and research, I started to pick up installation and painting again.

Q: Are you from Hong Kong?

Yes. Educated at the University of New South Wales in Australia with a major in architecture.

Q: How does that affect your art?

The Australian sunshine made me a very positive person [laughs].

Q: What do you think of the art scene in HK?

I think it’s very vibrant, but we need curators to initiate more ideas as well as for marketing and promoting. We have artists, aka the actors, in different areas to create artwork, but curators are the directors who brainstorm a theme for the artwork to appear relevant to a cause. 

For instance, for a theme on Hong Kong traffic, artists may interpret it as bus or taxi, while the curators make sure that the direction will be an interesting one and germane to the context of public space.

Q: Why are you exhibiting in the Fringe and not in Para/site?

Because of the conflict of interest. I want to keep it separate from running a show in Para/Site.

Q: Has Para/Site changed in any way since Alvaro joined?

Yea. We do much more planning. He’ll think of a strategy to make things happen.

Q: Where have you had exhibitions before? Any reviews available?

A few interesting ones are Venice Biennale 2003, Venice Architecture Biennale 2006, Hong Kong-Shenzhen Architecture Biennale 2008. You can also find a list of exhibitions and reviews in my book.

Q: Which artists have inspired you in general and in this exhibition? Have you heard of Tracy Emin?

Architects influenced me more, notably Peter Wilson and I.m. Pei.

Q: When did you know you were an artist?

I don’t even think about it.

Q: How do you see the art scene in Asia evolving?

It seems that the focus is shifting from mainland to other places like Korea and Philippines. It’s a good development and will open up more opportunities and perspectives.

Q: Which art publications do you read/recommend?

Articles and news by the Asia Art Archive, AM Post, Art Map, and Art Asia Pacific.

Q: Tell us about your book?

It incorporates articles about the folding bed idea.

Q: Which is your favourite art museum in Asia?

Miho Museum by I.m. Pei in Kyoto, Japan. I love how the museum is designed as a mountain. The museum and exhibits link with the surroundings.

Q: Do you collect art? Any particular genre or type?

Yes. I like works by designers such as Allan Chan, Freeman Lau, Stanley Wong, Keith Tseng, and artists such as Leung Chi Wo.

Q: Any information would you like about the art world? Is there something that you would like but is missing at the moment?

On the side of public art, there’s missing research on public art. How to value it not just as artwork, but how to appreciate it – not just art for art’s sake, but value it to help the society. How to bring out debates about certain things. Usually these cannot be valued. But people value artwork in money terms. This is the area where we need to incite more debates about art.

Contributed by Wendy Ma

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Male manicurists and armpits: emerging Australian art at Para/Site Hong Kong

Posted by artradar on June 25, 2009


 

 

Christian Bumbarra Thompson, The Sixth Mile, video

Christian Bumbarra Thompson, The Sixth Mile, video

AUSTRALIAN ART HONG KONG

 

 

Rare display of Australian contemporary art in Hong Kong 

From 20 June to 2 August 2009, renowned nonprofit Para/Site Art Space in Hong Kong makes its space available to the Chalk Horse Art Center, an artist run initiative from Australia for a rare display of Australian contemporary art. 

 

There are less than a handful of commercial galleries (Gaffer and Cat Street being two of the principal ones) which show Australian art in Hong Kong and in the non-commercial arena Australian art is even  more rare. So why Hong Kong? …and why now?

Oliver Watts outside Chalk Horse Art Center's show at Para/Site

Oliver Watts outside Chalk Horse Art Center's show at Para/Site

Artist Oliver Watts explains: “In Australia there is a lot of interest in Asia right now, a lot of government interest in funding these kind of cultural exchanges. After all our prime minister speaks Mandarin. We approached Para/Site about this project earlier in the year because it has an outstanding reputation in Australia”.

Their initiative was well-timed because Para/Site has become a fertile ground for such a project.  At the beginning of this year Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya took the helm as Executive Director and Curator at Para/Site and he has made it his mission to encourage collaboration and exchange between artists within the Asia Pacific region.  

So far this year Fominaya has curated shows by Japanese performance artist Tatsumi Orimoto and Thai installation artist Surasi Kusolwong. This time he is stepping back as curator to allow Australian curator Dougal Phillips to present his exhibtion called  The Horn of Plenty: Excess and Reversibility, a showcase of video, performance, installation and painting by young Australian artists.

The double themes of  ‘excess’ and ‘reversibility’ refer to the recent juddering reversal of the economy from excess which is represented by the magical horn of plenty. In mythology this horn, which Zeus provided for the goat Amalthea,  endlessly overflowed with fruit, flowers and grain.

The title of the show is topical but not an adroit fit with the artworks; no matter though because there is some powerful art on display.

Look out for Christian Bumbarra Thompson’s two compelling video artworks. Thompson is the most senior artist in the show and his The Sixth Mile (2007) was shown at the inaugural National Indigenous Arts Triennale: Culture Warriors which “explores cultural hybridity and recalls nostalgically the importance his father placed on personal grooming”.

In the 34 minute Desert Slippers made in 2007 we see Thompson and his father engaging in repetitive ritualistic movements of armpit touching. Sweat-swapping becomes a disconcertingly intimate greeting ceremony.

A graduate of RMIT in 2004, Bumbarra Thompson (b.1978) is gaining recognition for his multiple talents as photographer, installation artist, curator and writer. His works have been exhibited extensively across Asia Europe and the South Pacific.

 

Kate Mitchell (b. 1980) too is interested in the the human body as a medium and creates powerful performance art from  by turning herself into a human sundial. In the video which records  her arresting 8 hour endurance performance in its entirety, Mitchell stands in the blistering sun from 9 am to 5 pm so that her shadow can mark the time of a perfect working day.

Kate Mitchell, 9-5, performance

Kate Mitchell, 9-5, performance

Mitchell could probably have done with some serious pampering after her toil and if you feel that you could too, then  come to Para/Site space between 24 and 28 June 2009.

Push your way through a curtained door opening tucked right at the back of the Para/Site space and inside you will find a surprise: a perfectly equipped nail salon where, on the appointed days you can receive a free manicure.  This art piece has been created by Bababa International, a Melbourne-based arts collective consisting of four young men who, according to a list they scribbled down on our media kit at the show’s press conference, are 

  • Stephen Russell (tall, pale)
  • Giles Thackway (tall, handsome)
  • Tom Melick (tall, glasses)
  • IvanRuhle (the other guy)

Life appears to be a playful spree for these four and art is just as much of a lark. But it is their humour and endearing humility which allow them, with a light touch, to confront serious entrenched social issues such as the treatment of migrant workers.  While they stress that the event is open to anyone they have been working closely with organisations like the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants to help promote the event to Filipino domestic workers whom they are especially keen to attract. According to a review on SBS.com:

although a nail salon tended by boys, who admit they are still honing their skills in nail care seems like an entertaining spectacle, the project has intriguing socio-political undertones.

The salon is specifically aimed at providing pampering for Filipino maids on their day off after the collective became aware that domestic workers were congregating in an underpass in the absence of public spaces and leisure areas accessible to their socio-economic means.

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Posted in Art spaces, Artist-run, Artists as curators, Australian, China, Connecting Asia to itself, Domestic, Emerging artists, Family, Hong Kong, Human Body, Identity art, Installation, Migration, Nonprofit, Social, Time, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Taiwanese photographers, video artists and an architect at 53rd Venice Biennale

Posted by artradar on May 25, 2009


TAIWANESE ARTISTS VENICE BIENNALE

Though they span architecture, film and photography, the four Taiwanese artists featured in the 53rd Venice Biennale exhibition ‘Foreign Affairs’ share a common focus. Each looks at the unequal treatment of the disadvantaged in the midst of globalisation, and has taken action through distinctive, personal, and practical means.

Furthermore, they have all engaged in dialogue and interaction with other areas of the world.

 

Hsieh Ying-Chun

Hsieh Ying-Chun

 

Hsieh Ying-Chun

 

Hsieh Ying-Chun (* 1954) is a Taiwanese architect who for years has worked to provide minorities and disadvantaged members of society with collaborative construction.
More than an architect, Hsieh is an architectural activist who takes social, cultural and economic limitations and ecological concerns into consideration to create works that embody the ideals of “sustainable construction”.
Hsieh Ying-Chun opposes modernist division of labour and classification.

 

Chen Chieh-Jen, Empire's Borders, DVD

Chen Chieh-Jen, Empire's Borders, DVD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chen Chieh-Jen

The insulting treatment recently accorded Chen Chieh-Jen while applying for a U.S. visa has precipitated discussion of the plight of the Taiwanese people under the post-Cold War, post-colonial, and neo-liberalist global order.

The new work, Empire’s Borders (2009), is a film that opens showing the various and sundry checks that Taiwanese citizens must endure when applying for a U.S. visa for business, tourism, or family reasons.

Watch excerpts from Chen Chieh-jen’s complete video works at the Asia Society… on the effects of globalization on the marginalized in society… and Lingchi Executions

Chien-Chi Chang, China Town Series, Chen X Family, 2007 C Print
Chien-Chi Chang, China Town Series

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Chien-Chi Chang

Among his best known works are photos chronicling illegal workers in New York’s Chinatown (China Town); The Chain, a series of photographs taken at Longfatang, a controversial psychiatric shelter in southern Taiwan; and the matchmaking and courting rituals that bring Taiwanese men and Vietnamese women together in marriage (Double Happiness).

Chang began his chronicling of the lives of illegal immigrants on the streets of New York’s Chinatown in 1992, traveling to Fujian province in China to visit their families and relate the unique tales of these people that live on the margins of society. Hong John Lin notes that the most remarkable aspect of the photography process is that “the photographer becomes a part of the subjects’ lives, so that a total state of disarmament is reflected in front of the camera.”

Chien-Chi Chang on wikipedia

Cheng-Ta Yu, Ventriloquists, Video, 2009

Cheng-Ta Yu, Ventriloquists, Video, 2009

Cheng – Ta Yu

Cheng-Ta Yu’s latest work is a video documentation of two Philippine women who married Taiwanese men and work in the same building in Taipei.

After more than a decade living in Taiwan, local language has become a tool in their daily lives, but in his interaction with them, Yu tries out three different languages (Mandarin, Taiwanese, and English), taking on some of their idiosyncratic pronunciations in his conversations.

To conclude the video with a note of levity, the women sing a song in Mandarin in an effort to liberate everyone from the language barriers that inevitably formed in their conversation.

Source: Press release via Universes in Universe

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MOMA acquires Israeli artist Guy Ben-Ner video Moby Dick

Posted by artradar on April 20, 2009


ISRAELI NEW MEDIA

This year Israeli artist’s Guy Ben-Ner’s Moby Dick (2000) has been acquired by MOMA. Ben-Ner was born in 1969 and is resident in New York and Berlin. He represented Israel in Venice Biennale 2005.

His art, resonant with socio-political allusion, is deep but far from bleak. His comic soap-opera style videos retell stories appropriated from other cultures and feature his family and household objects in a gloriously amusing, jerky slap-stick style.

Guy Ben-Ner, Moby Dick, video still, 2000

Guy Ben-Ner, Moby Dick, video still, 2000

In New York Magazine, Jeremy Salz described why Ben-Ner’s work is so different

All art comes from other art, and all immigrants come from other places. What makes Ben-Ner’s art stand out is that he puts these ideas together so well, continually cannibalizing the culture and objects he encounters, trying to make these things work for his art and his family. In this way, he echoes the immigrant’s story and the artist’s quest.1

Link to part of Ben-Ner Moby Dick video on youtube

Ben-Ner’s Moby Dick is a sly, improvisational retelling of Herman Melville’s novel in the form of a short, silent video punctuated with intertitles and magic-trick asides.

Turning the kitchen of his family home into an impromptu set, Ben-Ner and his young daughter reenact the novel from the time Ishmael (Ben-Ner) arrives at the Spouter Inn until the denouement of the story, when Captain Ahab (also played by Ben-Ner) meets his demise at sea. His daughter Elia plays the landlord of the Spouter Inn and later Pip, the deck boy of the whaling ship Pequod.

Ben-Ner’s rendition of Moby Dick is reminiscent of early silent cinema’s melodrama and slapstick comedy routines. The props that turn the kitchen into a theatrical set are entirely homemade and are wildly inventive. Cabinets and sink first stand in as the bar at the Spouter Inn, then with a wooden mast added they become the Pequod floating atop the sea (the kitchen floor). Simple cinematic illusions using magic tricks, animation, and sight gags abound, making reference to the comedic ploys of Buster Keaton and the magical trickery of Georges Méliès. The playful antics of father and daughter are fun to watch, but the work is not simply a parody. It is, rather, an investigation of creativity and innocence, the father/child relationship, and the home as a site for wayward adult and adolescent fantasies.2

note 1: Review of Guy Ben-Ner video in ‘Stealing Beauty’ New York magazine by Jeremy  Saltz

note 2: The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art , p. 191

note 3: Details of the Guy Ben-Ner’s Moby Dick in MOMA collection

note 4: Gallery show 2006 press release lists other videos

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Posted in Acquisitions, Children, Collectors, Domestic, Family, Israeli, Museum collectors, New York, Social, Video, Videos, West Asian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »