Art Radar Asia

Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

  • Photobucket
  • About Art Radar Asia

    Art Radar Asia News conducts original research and scans global news sources to bring you selected topical stories about the taste-changing, news-making and the up and coming in Asian contemporary art.
  • Advertisements

Archive for the ‘Identity art’ Category

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

Related Topics: interviews, residencies, venues

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more artist interviews and art venue profiles

Advertisements

Posted in Art spaces, Chinese, Connecting Asia to itself, Curators, Events, From Art Radar, Gallery shows, Globalization of art, Hong Kong Artists, Identity art, Installation, Interviews, Medium, Migration, Performance, Photography, Professionals, Profiles, Residencies, Space, Themes and subjects, Time, Trends, UK, Venues, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Russian curators prosecuted for showcasing banned art: media round-up

Posted by artradar on August 2, 2010


RUSSIAN ART CURATORS BANNED ART LAW

After a two-year trial, two Russian curators, Yury Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev, were declared guilty of “inciting religious hatred,” despite massive protest. Although they escaped the three-year prison sentence demanded by the prosecution, the judge declared them guilty and each had to pay a hefty fine. Critics fear the results of this trial are proof of cultural oppression in Russia.

They had showcased art banned from other Russian museums in an exhibition entitled “Forbidden Art” at the Sakharov Museum.

Alexander Kosolapov's 'This Is My Body', from "My Blood My Body" series, one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006" at the Sakharov Museum.

Alexander Kosolapov's 'This Is My Body', from "My Blood My Body" series, one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art" at the Sakharov Museum.

Strong public interest in the case

Most media leans in favor of the Russian curators and sees the verdict as a sign of cultural oppression and censorship in Russia. However protesters from both sides were present outside the courthouse on the day of the ruling. Those offended by the paintings and who initiated the prosecution were mostly fundamentalist Russian Orthodox Christians while those against the prosecution consisted generally of artists and human rights activists. Multiple blogs and news agencies have covered the trial, ranging from arts websites to Russian interest magazines and blogs about human rights.

Extreme factions from both sides have voiced their protests. The New York Times reports that radical art performance group, Voina, released cockroaches into the courtroom, an act criticized by Samodurov. According to the Associated Press, extremist members of the prosecution threatened the curators in court, reminding them of the fate of Anna Alchuk, curator of “Caution: Religion!” who was found dead in Berlin in 2008.

Artists “incited religious hatred”

'Chechen Marilyn' by Blue Noses Group (2005, colour print, 100 x 75 cm), one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006" at the Sakharov Museum.

'Chechen Marilyn' by Blue Noses Group (2005, colour print, 100 x 75 cm), one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art" at the Sakharov Museum.

The works in question include an icon made of caviar, a depiction of Christ with a Mickey Mouse head, and an image of Christ with the McDonald’s sign and the words “This is my body”. There were also some non-Christian symbols included in the list of offensive images such as Chechen Marilyn and the Chinese invading the Kremlin. The exhibition spurred a lot of anger amongst religious groups.

In a video interview with Russia Today, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church explains that,

Orthodox believers, as citizens of their country…have the right to protect their sacred symbols. It was not the church that initiated this prosecution, but the people who were offended. The investigation proved that the art at the exhibit was offensive towards believers, and incited religious hatred.

The New York Times also mentioned, however, that Russian Orthodox Church officials believed that while displaying the paintings was criminal and the curators should be punished, they shouldn’t be imprisoned. Furthermore, the Russian Minister of Culture was critical of the prosecution.

A fight against censorship

The defendants’ view is that this exhibition was a critique of the materialism of Russian society and a fight against censorship of the arts, and had nothing to do with religion. Ironically, critics fear that results of the trial have shown that censorship is quite powerful in Russia.

Samodurov faced similar charges for a 2003 exhibition called “Caution: Religion!” He says the Church has reacted more strongly in the “Forbidden Art” trial.

Human rights and arts activists fully disapprove of the judge’s ruling, and are alarmed not only at the guilty verdict but at the fact that this trial even took place. The BBC News reported that thirteen renowned Russian artists signed an open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev protesting the trial. Russia Today reports that,

…much more concerning [than escaping the jail sentence] for people in their circumstances is what they’ve seen as a curb from their freedom of expression.

In addition support from other artists and curators has been prevalent. The Associated Press reports that Marat Gelman, a Moscow gallery owner, declared his support for the pair by saying he would launch his own “Forbidden Art” exhibition should the ruling be in favor of the church. One sympathizer stated for the Associated Press before the verdict was declared,

‘I am very afraid for them,’ she said. ‘The church is now younger, more energetic.’

Some fear a return to a cultural oppression similar to that of Czarist Russia. Some suspect the Kremlin may have had a role in lightening the punishment of the curators to prevent tarnishing their international image. Critics have predicted that people will be wary of displaying and producing potentially offensive art in Russia, and this will make Russian art less competitive globally.

MM/KN

Related Topics: Russian artists, curators, venues – Moscow

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more on art in Russia

Posted in Activist, Body, Brands, Celebrity art, Censorship of art, Consumerism, Curators, Identity art, Moscow, Nationalism, Political, Religious art, Russia, Russian, Social, Themes and subjects, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Interventions explore art industry relationships in curator Meenakshi Thirukode’s Guild Art Gallery show: interview

Posted by artradar on June 24, 2010


ART GALLERY SHOW ASIAN ART IDENTITY CURATOR INTERVIEW

Structures Within an Intervention, a show that was on at The Guild Art Gallery, New York, was centered on the various relationships that exist in the art world. Relationships that determine the place of an artist, curator, dealer, buyer, critic and the spectator in relationship with each other under the institutional umbrella of a gallery space, function as the central premise for an interventionist re-thinking of the lines between artist, curator and spectator.

The show consisted of five “interventions“, scheduled at specific times, which were open for anyone to witness. With each intervention, the meaning of the work and the artist’s intention were reworked into a new context. Participating artists and artist collaborators included Afruz Amighi, Anindita Dutta, Divya Mehra, Fawad Khan, Mariam Ghani, Michael Buhler RoseNidhi Jalan, Rajkamal Kahlon, artist project Redo Pakistan (Fatima Hussain and Hamja Ahsan), Swati Khurana and Vandana Jain.

Intervention #1 Town Hall Meeting

Intervention #1 by Town Hall Meeting

Art Radar Asia spoke with Meenakshi Thirukode, curator of “Structures Within an Intervention”, about the show and the various issues that have arisen within and from the interventions.

How did “Structures Within an Intervention” come about?

All of my curatorial projects are essentially dialogs – a continuation of dialog to be precise. For me curating is one form of trying to find answers or just have a conversation or perhaps even find some kind of reconciliation between the idea of the institution and the idea of the individual. So, when The Guild Art Gallery asked me to curate a project for them, one of these dialogs manifested as “Structures Within An Intervention.” I don’t work from the standpoint of thematic contexts. I think that’s a regressive way of contextualizing any practice. There has to be some kind of deeper more genuine search.To go beyond expectations, categories, niches: it’s the need to have that conversation and have it materialize as projects that are physical or ephemeral, definite or indefinite that is my focus.

“Structures Within an Intervention” features contemporary artists of Asian origin and a few of these artists straddle multiple media and follow specific ideologies. How did you select artists and works for this show?

The premise was already laid out for me by the institution. As The Guild gallery focuses on South Asian and Middle Eastern artists, I had to function within those parameters, so to speak. This was a perfect scenario because it is in a sense reflective of how contexts are created based on this very focused mission of commercial institutions. In a way, this is the gallery’s identity, one that it has every right to define just as artists or even curators define their own (by choice or by contexts others build around him/her). So how do all of these structures work then? What do we have to say beyond this obvious friction between institution and individual and all of the hierarchies within it? That is something we are trying to get at here.

I chose artists that I’ve been working with since I started to “function” in the art world as a writer and curator. I’ve written about their work or curated them in other projects. I’ve done so because I connect to their work and to me it’s important to nurture that relationship, to see the work progress, evolve, change or perhaps remain as is. Whatever the case might be my relationship to all these artists is important in terms of my curatorial practice and what my work is about – some I’ve known since the start of my career and others I am getting to know along the years. This continuity is pertinent to my work and given the premise under which I was asked to curate the show, it was a perfect segue into exploring all the intricacies and structures so to speak between artist, curator, gallery, collective and all the other myriad categories under which we all function in the art world.

The works were chosen predominantly by talking to the artist about this premise and seeing what they thought would work best. In that way, I was playing with the idea of authority and control – is it the curator who has the control and so called authority to choose the work or did it transfer to the artist? Or did I, as curator, allow the transfer of authority to artist in choosing the work they wanted to be a part of the project. Of course less romanticized factors like availability of the work also played a role in what work was ultimately part of the show.

It seems the interventions essentially seek to question some defined norms of social relations, personal and public, and institutional hierarchies under the umbrella of which we all seem to operate. Do these interventions manifest themselves via the work/the artist/the curator, or via the interaction of all of them? How, then, is it a move away from or within the defined systems of collectives/curatorial practice/artist as the creator of meaning?

Freedom is an interesting word. Because we presume we have freedom but most likely we don’t. From the start of the project, the way it culminated, the responses of artists and those invited to intervene, all of it embodied this notion of freedom and control and who was giving it and how much of it. Five interventions were set to take place and four of the interveners were artists whose practice extends beyond just their ‘individual’ practice to put it in simple terms. Parlour is a curatorial duo (Leslie Rosa-Stumpf and Ciara Gilmartin) and has proposed an intervention that will re-curate the exhibition in an attempt to bring the participating artists’ practices into a broader contemporary dialogue—not one tied to a definitive cultural milieu.  New artists will be invited to be part of the conversation. Parlour alone functions predominantly as a curatorial duo but since their intervention is still to take place the context of their interaction is ambiguous. Town Hall Meeting (THM) describe themselves as performative art historians, AD HOC VOX‘s (AHV) Colleen Asper and Jennifer Dudley are artists but as AHV they are having their own critical dialogs about varied ideas both within and outside of what we call contemporary art. SHIFTER is a publication Sreshta Premnath co-founded with another artist. Greshams Ghost is Ajay Kurian, an artist who functions within the norms of a curator under this insignia.

Intervention #2 Ad Hoc Vox

Intervention #2 Ad Hoc Vox

Interestingly the four interventions that have taken place have all been more of a performance or what would seem like an artist’s intervention rather than a curatorial intervention. Of Course Parlour’s intervention is yet to take place so we would have to wait to see what they do. There was no sense of inclusion/exclusion or a presence of authority and control as would define a ‘curator’.

If work was being placed as in the case of AHV and Greshams Ghost, I did not tell them where to place it. They chose where to place the works. There was no attempt to move away from anything really because I don’t think exact defined roles exist in what we all do. How do we define performance even? During AHV’s intervention Swati Khurana, an artist in the show, did a performance with her grandmother called Lesson 1, which involved them knitting a ball of red yarn together concurrent to a reading that Colleen and Jennifer performed after installing their artwork in specific sites around the gallery space. We then celebrated her grandmom’s 80th birthday with a surprise birthday cake – is that performance? Did I, by suggesting we get cake, lead everyone into a performance no one knew they were participating in? Is that curatorial control then?

For instance, I have a blueprint on the wall where I’ve been documenting whatever has been placed or left behind or performed in the gallery space. It is a blueprint/a record in flux. In a way I am trying to exude control but do I have any? And by virtue of placing this blueprint on a wall am I functioning as an artist? Or am I strictly a curator? Are the interveners artists or curators or critics? Are they institutions since they have built an identity and a ‘brand’ with logos and mission statements separate from who they are as artists or writers? In fact, I have a logo and have created this pseudo institution of myself called MT Productions. So what does that make me? All those definitions and roles then seem redundant and I am just trying to see if that’s a justifiable statement through this project.

Intervention # 3 Shifter (Shresta Rit Premnath)

Intervention # 3 by Shifter (Sreshta Premnath)

There are set dates and times for these interventions. Do these interventions, in themselves, become performative? Is the essential quality of the show dependent upon viewers witnessing these interventions? If yes, how so?

Viewer interaction was very key in all the interventions. With Town Hall Meeting and SHIFTER they were participants rather than mere ‘viewers’. While with AHV and Greshams Ghost it was more of an opening reception/reading/panel discussion kind of interaction.

Town Hall Meeting had prepared a questionnaire based on their reading of postcolonial theorists as well as essays and texts on the notion of the ‘other’. So the participant would sit with them, in a make shift tent they made in the gallery, thereby making it a small more comforting space within the abstract gallery space, and answer the questions. THM is in the process of compiling the answers.

Shifter’s intervention involved looking at works with torchlights while Trin T Minh-ha‘s lecture played. So the role of this ‘viewer’ has also been a point of exploration within established structures.

Many Asian artists, increasingly because of international gallery representations and greater exposure to international markets, fairs and increased interest in Asian art, have attained a global status. Their works are international in spirit but often deal with themes of displacement, identity and are culturally specific. Additionally, most artists featured in this show are international artists of Asian origin. How do these themes appear in this show? In the interventions so far, how have the artists responded to re-contextualizing their works?

The artists were chosen either because they were of South Asian or Middle-Eastern origin or had some connection to the region as embodied in their practice. This was a conscious choice reaffirmed to work within the gallery’s vision as well so as to have that ever-present dialog and debate of choosing artists and creating contexts based on nationality.

The process of inviting artists was interesting. So was the process of inviting those who would function as interventions. Most accepted to be a part of the show as artists while some had issues with being contextualized based on their South Asian identity, even though the point of the project was to set it up that way so that we could deal with all the problems associated with it. And that was great! It shows how some artists can be very cautious of how their work is being contextualized. It shows a need for control, perhaps. And so even before the project materialized here we were negotiating control! Here was a strain of dialog that’s always running through every other debate on the ‘other’ identity, the ‘non-Western’ identity, that was more pronounced now that we were specifically talking about a project that was ironically trying to discuss the problems of such contexts and if at all it can be resolved here.

Intervention #4 Greshams Ghost

Intervention #4 by Greshams Ghost

In terms of responding to the actual interventions it’s always been positive and interesting when they give their feedback. They have been more open to all these different interactions and contexts. No sense of losing control even though it could have run through their mind at some point, I suppose. I can’t speak for them but it also brings up the notion of trust in my mind. The fact that I know most of them at a personal level, if not all, it’s less formal, so to speak. I mean of course there are consignment agreements and everything else related to formal structures between gallery and artists but there is still a sense of community here between all participants.

Do you plan a finale for the last day of the show?

There’s no finale. The project in its materialization at The Guild ceases to exist. The dialog still goes on.

Meenakshi Thirukode is a writer and curator based in New York. She graduated with honors for art critical and historical development from the masters program at Christie’s Education, New York. She has written for leading Indian newspaper The Hindu, and is a columnist for White Wall Magazine‘s online daily as well as artconcerns.com. Thirukode serves on the Christie’s Alumni Society Board (New York).

AM/KN

Related Topics: interviews, curatorsvenues – New York, gallery shows

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more interviews with curators

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Curators, Events, Gallery shows, Identity art, Interviews, Meenakshi Thirukode, New York, Performance, Professionals, USA, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Compound Eye: RongRong and inri retrospective at He Xiangning Art Museum

Posted by artradar on June 16, 2010


CHINESE CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY MUSEUM EXHIBITION

Compound Eye: Works by RongRong & inri (2000-2010)(website in Chinese) is the first retrospective exhibition of collaborative works by RongRong and inri since they started working as a husband-and-wife team in 2000. In 1999, the Chinese photographer RongRong met inri, a Japanese artist, at his solo exhibition in Tokyo. They did not understand each other’s languages at that time, but they “understood each other deeply from their works.” Built on the foundation of their individual styles, their collaborative works surpass the limits of their individual vision.

Untitled Series, 2008, No.25 180x134cm, Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists

Untitled Series, 2008, No.25 180x134cm. Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists.

The lens naturally became a “compound eye” for the pair, enabling them to document themselves and their encounters with nature and their living landscape in depth and from perspectives only made possible by this “eye”. Feng Boyi, the exhibition’s curator, defines the unique quality of their works as such:

“Their collaborative method gives their works a romantic exterior, but the circumstances of their work and the narrative context overturn this romanticism, thus deconstructing their individual memories, dreams, and imaginations. This uniquely beautiful romantic language reflects their combined vision and a different side of nature and reality.”

In Fujisan, No.13 100x134cm , 2001, Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists

In Fujisan, No.13 100x134cm , 2001. Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists.

RongRong and inri’s freeze frame genealogy

The exhibition is divided into 13 series, each centering on a location and time, as well as the particular emotion associated with it. “In Fujisan, Japan” series (2001) was created after the pair made the decision to be together. This series concentrated on the spontaneous passion of discovering nature and each other, their realisation of their chance to live and create fully. “Caochangdi, Beijing” series (2004-2009) documents the births of three sons into their family. “Three Shadows, Beijing” series (2008), documenting the founding and operation of the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, can be read like a family genealogy. The freeze frames, shaped in circles, add a timeless flavour to the family portraits. The use of this circle shape can also be found in “Untitled 2008” series, suggesting the continuity of life in the universe and their creative process.

When asked about the challenges and decisions involved in putting together this exhibition, curator Feng Boyi replied:

Uncertainty is an important element of experimental contemporary art, because artists themselves are in the phase of exploring new ideas and methods. For a general audience not familiar with the art critical discourse, contemporary art seems distant. Everyone has grown up with a relatively fixed aesthetic preference, while the general art education in China is not very helpful in fostering individual taste. Hence, I am very careful in my curatorial process to take this dynamic into consideration. RongRong and inri’s works are less abstract, so the barrier to understanding should be lower. I also try to engage the audience by providing interactive opportunities – pinhole camera workshops are run every weekend.

Caochangdi, Beijing Series, No.1 102x109cm,  2004, Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists

Caochangdi, Beijing Series, No.1 102x109cm, 2004. Courtesy of He Xiangning Art Museum and artists.

He Xiangning Art Museum an important part of China’s art landscape

He Xiangning Art Museum (website in Chinese) is located in Shenzhen, a small fishing town which was designated as a “special economic zone” in the 80s. From these humble roots, it has grown into the cosmopolitan city in Guangdong province you can visit today. Shenzhen has always been well known as a trading centre for business and industrial production, and is the hub of the Pearl River Delta economic region. Lacking an innate infrastructure for art, Shenzhen has seen its government working with private partners to initiate and build quite a few arts clusters.

As a young migrant city without broad art heritage, Shenzhen has gone through a very fast urbanization process in the past thirty years. It is open and welcoming to new ideas and attempts. We have worked with a roster of curators, both Chinese and international. Shenzhen has a leading position in the design discipline in China. We also focus on Shenzhen’s critical location as a regional hub connecting Guangdong Province, Hong Kong, and Macau. The recent exhibition “The Butterfly Effect – An Artistic Communication Project of Cross-Strait Four Regions(website in Chinese) pays tribute to this very idea. (Feng Boyi, curator)

The museum was founded in 1997 and is the first Chinese national museum named after an individual. Since its inception, He Xiangning Art Museum has put on programmes with high aspiration and an international view: the Shenzhen Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition, first held in 1998; Wang Guangyi (website in Chinese) and Yue Minjun‘s (website in Chinese) solo exhibitions; Xu Bing’s Primer for the Mu, Lin, Sen (木, 林, 森) Project in 2009; a number of shows collaborating with Italian and French artists and curators.

He Xiangning Art Museum has always championed slightly marginalized artists in China. They still keep on creating original works without receiving overwhelming media attention. In the past few years, the characteristic of Chinese contemporary artists has shifted from being critical, avant-garde to being less so, especially after the intervention of capital in the art creation process. To some degree, the desire for fame and status has replaced their critical spirit. RongRong and inri remain experimental. They are exactly the type of artist that He Xiangning Art Museum is interested in. (Feng Boyi, curator)

When asked how He Xiangning Art Museum views the current status of art museums in China, museum director Yue Zhengwei said:

“Competition amongst museums should not be our primary concern. Founding an art museum is not the most difficult thing, but maintaining a well-run programme requires a lot of efforts. Each museum in the same city or region should develop its own unique positioning to differentiate from the rest, to avoid the wasting of resources. This is crucial to maintaining a healthy art museum eco-system.”

As an example, in the factory-converted creative and posh residential zone Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) in Shenzhen, He Xiangning Art Museum co-exists with the OCT Art and Design Gallery (website in Chinese) next door. OCT showcases a fusion of art and design, a perfect fit for a city recently named as China’s first “City of Design” by UNESCO.

“Compound Eye: Works by RongRong & inri (2000-2010)” is on at He Xiangning Art Museum until 11 July, 2010. It has been organised by He Xiangning Art Museum, with assistance from the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

SXB/KN

Related Topics: museum shows, photography, venues – China

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more reports on contemporary photography in Asia

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Body, China, Chinese, Curators, Environment, Female form, Identity art, Interviews, Japanese, Landscape, Migration, Museum shows, Photography, Professionals, Self, Shenzhen, Themes and subjects | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Problem of Asia: Para/Site art exhibition explores Asian identity in Sydney

Posted by artradar on May 5, 2010


PARA/SITE ASIAN IDENTITY ART

Ai Weiwei Beijing: The Second Ring, 2005. Video. January 14 – February 11, 2005. 1 h 6 m

The Problem of Asia, an exhibition presented 30 April – 22 May, 2010 at Chalk Horse Sydney in partnership with Hong Kong’s Para/Site Art Space, deals with an array of issues, not all of which are politically correct.

The exhibition considers how Asia is perceived and constructed, both from within and outside, and the contemporary challenges being presented to societies in general.

The exhibition is proposed as a catalytic, discursive device, activated through the artists that are part of the first installment of this improvised project. The show’s narratives address themes of growth, corruption, memory, history, language, colonialism and freedom.

This project is conceived as a work-in-progress, and is open to other additions and network plug-ins.

Australia is a unique location to launch this exhibition, as its multilayered relationship with the idea of Asia provides a provocative cultural framework.

Curated by Para/Site’s Executive Director and Curator Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, contributing artists include:

Ai Weiwei –      Luke Ching Chin-wai     Huang Xiaopeng     Michael Lee      Leung Chi Wo     Dinu Li      Tintin Wulia

Ai Weiwei’s videos document Beijing ring roads, focusing on the ‘process of pure observation and the nature of time…and the urban reality that defines Beijing’.

Urban reality versus urban utopia is explained through Michael Lee’s Spiral Supermart, a new project from the series Second-Hand City, where rubbles of collapsed buildings arrive at a futuristic factory in China to be analyzed, resurrected and displayed for resale.

Luke Ching Chin-wai and Huang Xiaopeng focus on language, although their research leads them through different concerns from translation software to impromptu Cantonese lessons for Japanese residents.

Dinu Li addresses the problem of Asia with a more direct strategy, through a video performance denouncing corruption, put in context with the inclusion of archival images from Chinese propaganda films.

Leung Chi Wo enacts a new performance based on his My Name is Victoria series, which encompasses references to the colonial past of Hong Kong.

Tintin Wulia’s installation is a research on the notions of nationality/nation/border through the relationship between citizenship, mobility, and political power, and between territory, mapping and cartography.

EW/KCE

Related Posts


Bookmark and Share

Posted in Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, Art spaces, Asian, Australia, Chinese, Gallery shows, Hong Kong Artists, Identity art, Installation, Nonprofit | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Art about curators: Korean artist Yang Ah Ham’s No Nonsense solo show

Posted by artradar on April 13, 2010


"Out of Frame"
“Out of Frame” video still

 Courtesy the Artsonje Centre

 KOREAN CONTEMPORARY ART

 

Netherlands-based Korean artist Yang Ah Ham turns her focus on the art world itself.

In her work “‘Chocolate Head” , a series of head sculptures of famous curators around the world, the art world becomes an unusual subject  in her multimedia solo show “Adjective Life in the Nonsense Factory” at Art Sonje Center in Korea in March – April 2010.

Her works which focus on the individual are defined, she says, by adjectives, rather than verbs or nouns.

As a companion piece to Ham’s melted chocolate sculptures, she has also produced a video called “Out of Frame” which captures performance art based around the chocolate heads. This series of works examines power and the tension it creates.

Another piece “Collected Anonymous 2006-2007,” features a collection of elastic hair bands that Ham found in the streets of Amsterdam. She brought them back to Korea and conducted DNA tests, even though there was little way of finding out whom the hair bands belonged to.

Read more: KoreaTimes.co.kr

Get info: Artsonje.org

See videos: InsaArtSpace.or.kr

 Subscribe to Art Radar for news of Asian artists and their solo shows

Bookmark and Share

AD/KCE

Posted in Events, Food, Fragile art, Human Body, Identity art, Korea, Korean, Performance, Sculpture, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

This is Hong Kong: video art exhibition highlights differences between Hong Kong and the mainland

Posted by artradar on March 10, 2010


HONG KONG VIDEO ART MOVING IMAGE

Hong Kong’s identity revealed through moving image

Hong Kong: a Chinese city, a territory, a post-colonial state. Since China regained sovereignty of the area from Britain in 1997, Hong Kong has been struggling to define its identity. In the internationally touring video programme, This is Hong Kong, participating artists have used moving image to provide a visual portrait of today’s political, social and architectural Hong Kong.

Kingsley Ng, Record Light, 2008

Hong Kong’s recent history has been very different to that of mainland China; from the mid-1800s to 1997 it was under British rule. Now returned to Chinese control, the territory is struggling with issues of identity common to many postcolonial states. It is in a unique position, as China has continued to allow the “special administrative region” cultural and economic freedoms that are not available on the mainland.

Chilai Howard Cheng, Doors, 2008

This is Hong Kong aims to show just how different the area is from the mainland and sees moving image as the medium with which to do it. It showcases 16 video works by 15 contemporary Hong Kong artists; these renowned artists are Chow Chun Fai, S.T. Choi Sai Ho, Silas Fong, Ip Yuk-Yiu, Linda Lai, Leung Mee Ping, MAP Office, Adrian Wong, Kacey Wong, Woo Ling ling, Ban Zhang, Kingsley Ng, Hung Keung, Leung Chi Wo and Chilai Howard Cheng. The four sections of the exhibition, (Transitional) Architecture, Diaries, Fictions and Tactile Positions, each deal with a different side of the city, and represent the different strategies developed by the artists.

Images of traditional neighbourhoods, unique architecture, underground communities, postcolonial identity and “life in the big city” all combine in videos with strong, compelling soundtracks. This is Hong Kong helps the viewer to build an overall picture of what it’s like to live in one of the most important economic and cultural metropolises in the world.

Silas Fong, When The Door Opens, 2008

This is Hong Kong is supported by Hong Kong-based Para/Site Art Space, a non-profit art organization headed by Executive Director and Curator, Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya. Fominaya is also the curator of the exhibition and believes it “is a great opportunity to show at an international level the vibrant art scene of Hong Kong”.

After being successfully shown at LOOP Festival in Barcelona, Spain, the programme made its way to LOOP Alternative Space in Seoul, Korea, Hamburg’s Subvision Festival, EastSide Projects, Birmingham, and IFA Gallery, Berlin.

This is Hong Kong is currently showing at the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts in Taipei, Taiwan, and will conclude at Kunsthalle Wien, Austria, in March this year.

Visit the exhibition page on the Para/Site Art Space website for more details on individual videos. Curator Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya can be contacted directly through this site. Fominaya also writes his own informative blog – visit it here.

KN/KCE

Related Posts

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more news on video and new media art from Hong Kong

Posted in Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, Art spaces, Chilai Howard Cheng, Curators, Hong Kong Artists, Identity art, Leung Chi Wo, New Media, Political, Social, Urban, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Balgo Hills art: Indigenous Australian art by renowned masters in rare tour through Asia

Posted by artradar on March 3, 2010


CONTEMPORARY INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIAN ART

Bright colors and mythical subjects in 26 works of internationally-renowned Balgo-style Australian desert art on tour in Asia: information about the show and a primer on the Balgo art genre

The exhibition

Balgo: Contemporary Australian Art from the Balgo Hills is an internationally touring exhibition of significant works from Australia’s Artbank collection.

The exhibition shows 26 works by a small community of Indigenous Australians from the Balgo Hills, a desert area in the northeast of Western Australia.

An important and highly respected range of prints by senior Balgo artists sits alongside a collection of works by emerging artists from the region.

Kathleen Paddoon, Nakarra Nakarra, etching on paper, 64 x 39 cm, 2005

image courtesy of TFAM

Balgo Hills

Priests of the German Catholic Pallottine Order established Balgo as a refuge mission in 1939. Unusually, the priests and nuns of the mission encouraged the Indigenous Australians to use their local language and customs, keeping traditional culture alive. The mission moved to the Balgo Hills area, where the community lives today, in 1965.

At Balgo Hills, different language groups were brought together as one community, and the community is collectively known as Kutjungka, meaning “being of one culture”. This mix of language and tradition has heavily influenced the Balgo artworks we see today.

Paintings from the Balgo Hills were first introduced to the world in the 1980s. An adult education centre was built in the community in 1981. Works produced here were shown at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 1986, in the pivotal exhibition Art from the Great Sandy Desert. The success of this significant exhibition lead to the establishment of the Warlayirti Artists Corporation in 1987.

Susie Bootja Bootja, Kaningarra, near the Canning Stock Route, acrylic on linen, 150 x 76 cm, 2000

image courtesy of TFAM

The Dreaming

The overarching theme expressed by Balgo artists is the Dreaming. The Dreaming is a complex and holistic concept that refers to a time of mythological Ancestral Beings or Sky Heroes, to Law (or the system of moral governance) and to religious beliefs.

Works by Balgo artists portray their ancestral stories of the land or “country” (what Indigenous Australians call land) through the depiction of nature. To Balgo artists, nature is a real replication of the Dreaming. The artists meditate on the Dreaming by depicting nature in their artworks.

Balgo “style” is more true to life than other Western Desert styles. The symbols used in the paintings stem from those used in traditional sand painting and drawing, and from body painting. The artists are known for their vivid choice of colours and balanced, often symmetrical, design. A blend of modernity and tradition is clear in work from the Balgo Hills; traditional tribal myths are recreated using modern acrylic and etching.

Brandy Tjungurrayi, Narroo, acrylic on linen, 120 x 80 cm, 2002

image courtesy of TFAM

The artists

There are a number of significant senior “master” Warlayirti (Balgo Hills) artists, all of whom are internationally recognised.

Lucy Yukenbarri and Susie Bootja Bootja both work with dots; Yukenbarri’s places her’s close together to form scalloped lines while Bootja Bootja creates dotted color fields.

Many of these artists use their various painting styles to represent water sources and the importance these have in their lands: Helicopter Tjungurrayi, Boxer Milner, Fred Tjakamarra, Tjumpo Tjapanangka, Lucy Loomoo and Elizabeth Nyumi.

Commonly, Bob Dingle Tjapanangka and John Lee Tjakamarra portray Luurnpa, the Ancestral Kingfisher, who lead the Kukatja people to their lands in the Dreaming. Brandy Tjungurrayi also portrays important Dreaming figures, but in sharp geometrics.

Kathleen Paddoon is known for her dramatic use of bright colour and a particularly minimalist approach.

Uniquely, Joan Nagomara works in the style of the early days of Balgo’s emergence, using it to show the ritual activities that tie her to her country.

Eubena Nampitjin and Ningie Nangala Nangala work with the hills and rocky outcrops of their countries, representing them in a minimalist linear fashion.

Stand-out emerging artists from the Balgo Hills region include Pauline Sunfly, who paints using intense color combinations, Miriam Baadjo, who presents the important Two Children Dreaming, and Jimmy Tchooga, who paints his father’s creation story.

The tour

Balgo: Contemporary Australian Art from the Balgo Hills has already shown in New Zealand, the Philippines, the USA, Thailand and Taiwan, and is currently exhibiting in Hong Kong. Further destinations include Vietnam, mainland China, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Korea. A touring schedule is available via the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

KN/KCE

Related Posts

Posted in Ancestors, Australia, Australian, China, Conceptual, Emerging artists, Identity art, India, Korea, Land art, Landscape, Mythical figures, Painting, Philippines, Social, Taiwan, Thailand, USA | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Curator Rosa Maria Falvo on emerging Central Asian art scene- interview

Posted by artradar on December 16, 2009


Way to Rome, by Said Atbekov, 2007. Uzbekistan.

Way to Rome, by Said Atabekov, 2007. Lambda print on dibond. Uzbekistan.

CENTRAL ASIAN ART CURATOR

Every industry has its gatekeepers, and the art world is no exception. In the complex world of identifying and valuing cultural and artistic significance, it is the curator who filters through the ‘noise’ to uncover the hidden gems that are relevant, and then presents that information in a meaningful and understandable way.

One may wonder how a curator becomes such an authority, worthy of deciding what fine art demands to be seen, and what does not. The engaged art enthusiast simply must know: who are these internationally active contemporary art curators, and what can they teach us?

Art Radar Asia catches up with Rosa Maria Falvo, an independent Italian-Australian based curator whose most recent project was the East of Nowhere show in Turin, Italy, which showcased artworks from Central Asia. She sheds light on the intriguing world of multicultural curatorship, the rising international interest in artworks from the likes of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and, most importantly– why Central Asian art is emerging onto the world scene now.

Where did you grow up and where were you educated?

RMF: I grew up in Melbourne, Australia, graduating with Honours in English literature at Monash University, majoring in theatre, psychology and sociology, and then completing a Diploma of Education. I have done various post graduate studies in Italy on language, art and culture, specialising in photography, cinema, and the 20th century avant-gardes.

Has this had any influence on your career in art, or your response to art?

RMF: I enjoy investigating differences and then looking for natural similarities. In the last 5 years I’ve really focused my curatorial thinking on the East–West dichotomy.

My Italian-Australian heritage has nurtured my open appreciation and desire for aesthetic and cultural reference points. I feel very fortunate to have this twofold awareness, which has given me unique insights and provides the foundation for my work.

Since 2000 I’ve been involved in promoting individual artists, designing exhibitions and contributing to publishing projects. As an independent writer, translator and curator I’ve established a fruitful international network.

In which countries and cities do you spend most of your time?

RMF: With dual citizenship, I live and work in both Italy and Australia, and travel regularly to various parts of Asia.

I do overland trips for long periods, such as throughout Myanmar, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kazakhstan, Tibet, Mongolia, and Western China, meeting artists and collecting their work. These journeys are both personal and professional odysseys.

I’m particularly interested in the rich aesthetic traditions and contemporary responses of non-Western realities, and I collaborate with local artists, curators, galleries, museums and academic institutions in Europe, Asia and Australia…

I am the Asia-Pacific Publications & Projects Consultant for SKIRA International Publishing in Milan-Paris-NY. This involves establishing publishing and exhibition projects with major public and private museums, galleries, and artists throughout the Asia-Pacific Region.

Which cultures do you have a deep interest in or connection to?

RMF: I am deeply connected to Italy and also feel an affinity for Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, particularly Pakistan and India, given the many friends I’ve made and the cultural treasures I’ve experienced.

Dream, by Uuriintuya Dagvasambuu, 2003. Gouache on canvas 47 x 61cm

What types of art have you worked with in the past? Why those?

RMF: I’ve worked with Italian, Australian and Asian contemporary artists: sculptors, photographers, painters and designers.

I admire those who remain true to their own vision while mastering the technical excellence of their craft. How successfully they link the two is for me an indication of quality work, which is by definition powerful. Good artists are important cultural translators and visual conversationalists.

Do you collect art? If so, what is the most recent artwork you have bought?

RMF: I collect work on my travels, pieces that appeal to me aesthetically and intellectually. I take an interest in artists as people, and I like to know as much about their creative process and psychological view as possible.

The most recent works I have collected are by Adeel uz Zafar, a talented Pakistani painter and illustrator, working with notions of the larger-than-life canvas of life, and Uuriintuya Dagvasambuu, an emerging Mongolian painter who reworks the traditional Mongol zurag technique into contemporary themes.

Have you noticed a rising interest in Central Asian art?

RMF: There’s a rising interest in Central Asian art, because there’s tremendous shifting in this part of the world’s geopolitical and cultural realities. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the ex-Soviet republics are pulling and pushing at an amazing speed.

There’s growing curiosity from those who know very little besides what is shown on TV and ever deepening analysis from those who have long been aware and well travelled.

The allure of ethnicity, exoticism and culture shock is often a visual pretext for the real essence of a show like this, which is to present an account of the changing face of contemporary Central Asia.

This international awareness is recent if you consider that the first Central Asia pavilion took place at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005, where newly established post-Soviet states Kazakhstan (with artists Khalfin, Maslov, Meldibekov, Menlibaeva, Tikhonova, Vorobyeva, Vorobyev), Kyrgyzstan (Boronilov, Djumaliev, Kasmalieva, Maskalev) and Uzbekistan (Akhunov, Atabekov, Nikolaev, and Tichina) represented a “regional group” curated by a Russian, Viktor Misiano. This heralded the development of the Central Asian art scene.

Emerging from a monolithic Soviet Union we see extraordinary complexity and fermentation on issues to do with struggle, conflict, and identity. That a place like Afghanistan nurtures its own contemporary art scene, however fledgling, is testimony to the unflagging spirit of special individuals dedicated to the arts. Rahraw Omarzad’s ‘Closed Door’ video provides a playfully eloquent metaphor for the obstacles facing ordinary Afghanis in the context of violence and corruption.

Have there been many Central Asian art shows, or was East of Nowhere introducing completely unseen art to Italy?

RMF: There have been few initiatives on Central Asian art outside Central Asia. ‘East of Nowhere’ was a natural and ambitious outgrowth of a previous premiere show entitled The Tamerlane Syndrome: Art and Conflicts in Central Asia in Orvieto, Italy (2005), curated by my expert colleagues, Enrico Mascelloni and Valeria Ibraeva, who each have 30 years of experience in this region of the world.

Men Praying on the Central Square in Bishkek, by Alimjan Jorobaev.

What kind of response did you get?

RMF: We’ve had very positive responses. This industrial area of Turin – Via Sansovino- is being redeveloped by Fondazione 107. Visitors have made a real effort to seek out this show and been impressed with the space, which is a beautifully reconverted warehouse. The variety of work and line up of both important and emerging artists has excited Italian and European media, which have been particularly complimentary; commenting on the panorama of talent and the contextual analysis of multiple narratives.

How do you personally measure the success of an exhibition?

RMF: I think a successful exhibition stimulates questions from those who were otherwise unaware of what is out there and raises the quality of debate amongst those who do.

Obviously, once there is growing public interest the art system brings the process of monetising art. Prices have certainly risen and it’s very interesting to watch what is happening in this part of the world.

What excites me is the open, honest and often young creative energy that has no direct dependence on a predetermined art market.

What themes do you see within Central Asian art, and why are they capturing the imagination of an Italian audience?

RMF: East of Nowhere offers a daring mix of impressions about a ‘Greater Central Asia’: accelerating globalization, contemporary nomadism, and pre-Soviet and Islamic traditions.

These 32 artists from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Mongolia take us beyond borders (which are not just arbitrarily reshaped, but often draw a blank in the minds of Westerns), violence, and Hollywood, into a new awareness of post-Soviet experience and ethnic affinities.

Said Atabekov’s Way to Rome, which is the cover image of our exhibition catalogue, recalls Marco Polo’s journey through Central Asia as the epitome of East-West encounters. For this photographic series Atabekov travelled throughout Kazakhstan, capturing daily life and landscapes, documenting the emblems of tradition and transformation. Of course, his work is also an ironic play on the ‘Path to Europe 2009-2011’ announced by Nursultan Nazarbayev in his presidential address to the people of Kazakhstan in 2008, which outlines his foreign policy for developing multilateral strategic cooperation with Europe in technology, power engineering, transport, trade, and investment. This promotion of Kazakh ‘prosperity’ highlights the paradoxical relations between Central Asia and Europe.

Alimjan Jorobaev’s Men Praying on the Central Square in Bishkek shows people praying with their backs to a sculpture exalting Lenin. Issues on collectivism, religion, identity politics, and nationhood are universal concerns, but they are in particularly sharp focus in this region of the world. I’m pleased to say that Fondazione 107 in Turin will continue to present projects based on the legacy of pioneering artists, curators, and collectors.

EW

Related Posts

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more insightful interviews with art professionals


Bookmark and Share

Posted in Afghan, Central Asian, Curators, Gallery shows, Globalisation, Identity art, Interviews, Islamic art, Italy, Journey art, Kazakhstani, Kyrgyz, Mongolian, Nationalism, Political, Professionals, Profiles, Religious art, Rosa Maria Falvo, Scholars, Tajikistani, Uzbekistani | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Korean artist Kim Joon discusses tattoos, taboos and his inspiration – interview

Posted by artradar on December 2, 2009


KOREAN CONTEMPORARY ART

The powerful works by Kim Joon depicting intriguingly ‘tattooed’ bodies beg for context. However, to more deeply understand Joon’s meditation on the meaning of tattoo as a social phenomenon and uniquely human act, a viewer must first appreciate the man and his personal experience. Kim Joon, born in 1966 in Seoul, has walked many paths in life: he is a renowned contemporary artist, a professor at Kongju National University in Korea, and is a former soldier in the Korean military.

Recently Joon has established a growing presence in the international art scene, gaining exposure in London at this year’s highly successful Korean Eye show, and in October 2009 his ‘Birdland-Armani’ piece was auctioned at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong for almost twice its estimated price, selling for approximately $17,560 USD. Art Radar catches up with Joon before the opening of his ‘Tattoo and Taboo’ exhibition, which runs from November 18th-Dec 13th at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery in Hong Kong, to discuss his fascination with tattoos, his surprising journey to finding inspiration, and the Korean art scene.

Note: Kim Joon’s comments were directly translated by Ms. Inhee Iris Moon, an independent curator based in New York, with whom he has worked extensively. Any references of Joon appearing to speak in the third person are attributed to this. Interview by Erin Wooters.

Kim Joon, Bird Land - Chrysler, 2008, digital print, 120 x 210 cm. Image courtesy of the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Where did you grow up and where were you educated? Were there major influences or people in your life pushing you toward or discouraging you from the arts?

Joon: He was born and raised in Seoul, and attended Hongik University, a well known school for art education. No one encouraged him to enter the arts, in fact his father was very opposed to him becoming an artist.

When did you first start creating art?

Joon: He started creating art in college. Generally he doodled as a child, but did not consider becoming a serious artist until he was attending university and studying art.

In which countries and cities do you spend most of your time?

Joon: Korea and Seoul

Do you have a deep connection to places or cultures outside Korea?

Joon: Although he was born and raised in Korea and really never spent time outside of Seoul, he has and maintains a close connection to Western culture through AFKN, which is an English radio program. It is produced by the U.S. military—it is a military station. He was deeply influenced by the things that he heard from radio… Also through entertainment, such as movies and rock music. He has built his connections to the outside world through media culture.

Kim Joon, Cradle Song - Ferragamo, 2009, digital print, 160 x 80 cm. Image courtesy of the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Do you have any any tattoos, and if so did you get them before or after joining the military?

Joon: Just one. I got it after joining the military.

Which artists do you admire?

Joon: More musicians than artists, actually. Jimi Hendrix is my hero, my personal god.

Which artists do you personally collect?

Joon: Young Korean contemporary artists, like Joonsung Bae.

When did you first become interested in the idea of tattoos?

Joon: I developed a very strong interest in it when I was in the army. But it was during college days that I first started working with the notion of tattoos.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not making art?

Joon: Listen to music, watch movies, and play with my daughter. She is 4.

Regarding your images, how do you create them?

Joon: First he uses 3-D animation software to create the body or bodies he wants, and he constructs them. Then after building the 3 dimensional body, he works to get the image he really desires. Then, he grafts on the type of skin he desires—it could be animal skin, artificial skin, human skin. It could be skin of a leather bag or skin of a shoe. Any kind of texture- it could be a hard baseball. He uses this surface skin and grafts it onto the 3 dimensional image he created. This computer program is called 3-D Studio Max. It is the program used to create Shrek and other 3D animation films.

So there is never any physical painting of models involved?

Joon: No.

How and why do you choose which gender and body type to use in the images? Is there a significance in your preference of male and female models?

Joon: He likes both, he is neutral. However, he has a strong admiration for black bodies. The ebony series represents his desire for a perfect black male body.

I notice in your previous work you sometimes use male models with less muscle tone. Is there a reason for this?

Joon: It could be the images with less muscle tone are the body types of Asian men, which are different from highly idealized perfected bodies.

Are the images intended to be at all sexual?

Joon: Because he is working with bodies, especially nude and highly idealized bodies, it became that way. However, he hasn’t intentionally created erotic images. The images in former series were not erotic bodies, they are more real bodies. As the work developed it became more sensual.

Some of your works include tattoos of logos. What is the significance of this, and how do you choose the company logos?

Joon: The selection of logos is pretty random, but the process involves digging out the pre-inscribed images that are embedded in his own mind. As a result, it could be any random logo. Of course he doesn’t have a special contract with any company. However, he tries to use logos that are really well known, that are universal and that everyone will recognize.

What special meaning does tattooing have to you?

Joon: There are two ways to identify his way of using tattoos. One is to express things that he cannot really negate. The other one is something that you really want to do but cannot do… It expresses things that cannot be erased, because tattoos are an inscription, a kind of mark that cannot be erased because it is a scar.

Is your work an expression of physical or spiritual beauty? Inner beauty or outer beauty?

Joon: You are absolutely right in saying that tattoo or tattooing is beyond the physical beauty because it encompasses the realm of repression and desire and beauty and scar. It is the doer side of tattoo and tattooing that he is much more interested. The process of tattooing itself is very painful, and the outcome could be very beautiful or ugly. You don’t know, but the willingness that goes into it is very spiritual.

Kim Joon, We - BMW, 2005, 190 x 120 cm. Image courtesy of the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Are these images also implying a group membership?

Joon: The ‘We’ series that he developed from 2005, with Starbucks and BMW, were the beginning of the idea of group consciousness. The Birdland series goes even deeper into that because it is a group of people all interlocked together becoming almost indistinguishable. It moves as a group consciousness.

What collective reality are the tattoos revealing?

Joon: In history, anthropologists will tell you that tattoos were used for different kinds of purposes. Sometimes they were used to define boundaries, or to have your own social groups. Then at other times it was to punish somebody in a negative sense, to reject you. There is a notion of acceptance and rejection- a sense of belongingness and non-belongingness. The tattoo or tattooing doesn’t have just one singular meaning, but has multiple meanings, and conflicting meanings.

Why do you want to explore things that are taboo, or feared by society?

Joon: I am intuitively very attracted to that, exploring the reasons behind our ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’. Because, they can be changed, too.

How common are tattoos in Korea?

Joon: There is still a lot of resistance to tattooing in Korea. It is still illegal to have tattoos done in tattoo parlors, but the tendancy now is that a lot of people forgive, or have aetheticians perform this kind of thing.

Is it difficult to find an underground tattoo parlor in Korea?

Joon: There are many of them, but it is just not legal. There is like a cult of these groups, but they are not officially approved by the government.

What is your view on the Korean military’s stance of tattoos on soldiers?

Joon: It is not allowed in the army or military situation. Actually, if you do have a large amount of tattoos on your body you cannot even be in military service. The regular duration for men to serve in the Korean military is 3 years—that is the official army service that men have to observe. But there is this other type of service that comprises all the rejects from the regular service. These are people who might not have good eyesight or fall into a lower category of body weight, and also people who have tattoos covering large parts of their body. Joon was actually part of that army, not the official one. This is where he encountered friends…

So you found acceptance among a group of people with tattoos?

Joon: Yes, right.

Is there a certain amount of tattoos a man must have to be rejected from regular military service?

Joon: At the time there was really no strict rule of how much tattoo you must have to go to the second tier army. There were people with some kind of tattoo, physical disfunctions, or some kind of lack. It is a place the secondary male citizens went.

So, in the military tattoos were considered a physical disfunction?

Joon: The people he saw with tattoos were rejects, but were not rejected because of bodily disfunction, but because of attitude disfunction. He was surprised because he always regarded tattoo as an artistic form, but the people who had the tattoos were regarded as some kind of deviant or reject. The conflict actually lead him to explore more about tattooing, and inspired him to use that as his subject matter.

How did you first begin marketing your work?

Joon: Naturally through all kinds of exhibitions.

Kim Joon, Stay - Warhol, 2007, c-print, 87 x 150 cm. Image courtesy of the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

When and how did you become represented by Sundaram Tagore?

Joon: I was invited to a mini solo show with the gallery as part of the official program of Asian Contemporary Art Week, held in spring 2009.

Who are your major collectors? What nationality?

Joon: I am not quite sure who they are, but I do have many collectors in Europe and America (New York).

How long does it take to produce an artwork?

Joon: It differs from time to time, but anywhere between 2 weeks to 2 months.

What kind of space do you work in?

Joon: I have a studio in Seoul and Gong Ju.

What shows do you have planned next?

Joon: I am showing with Sundaram at Art Asia Art Fair in December 2009 during Art Miami Basel week and I have a solo exhibition coming up in March at ST’s Beverly Hills gallery.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists about becoming successful in the art world?

Joon: I am not sure if I am in a position to give advice, but I usually say to my students and younger artists that one must have sincerity in order to succeed in anything. Giving sincerest thoughts and effort maybe a long and painful process but a necessary one.

How has the contemporary Korean art scene changed since you began working with it?

Joon: Korean art used be more or less conforming to a dominant style when I first started to work as an artist. For example, Minjoong misul [mass art] and abstraction were the two most dominant styles while I was an art student and virtually everyone was doing things in one of the two styles. However, contemporary art has become much more diversified. Artists are not afraid of expressing individual ideas and having their own style.

Kim Joon, Neverland, 2009, digital print, 120 x 120 cm. Image courtesy of the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Which Korean institutions and galleries do you admire and recommend to art lovers?

Joon: The Han Mi Museum of Photography, Museum of Contemporary Art, Duk Soo Palace branch. In terms of exciting galleries, PKM, Kukje and Hakgoje galleries in Seoul are recommendable.

How did the Korean Eye show in London affect your career? Do you find more interest in Korean art at home or abroad?

Joon: I feel that more people in England know about my work, and that’s a great thing for an artist. Other than that I do not feel much change in my career – yet that is. I think we need to allow more time for people to absorb what they saw.

What role do you think contemporary art plays in society? Does it play a special or unique role in Korea?

Joon: Art provides new experiences to people, making people think within a different realm.. It provides new angles and perspectives to think about and view things. This is a very important role of art… I think the artworks in Korea that are made in Korea manifest the multiple realities of Korea much better or closer to the existing condition. However loosely defined that term “Korean Style” may be, I think their works seem to reflect “it” better because their comments and expressions are close rumination of their experiences (that have great affinities with mine).

What is your philosophy as an artist? Why create art?

Joon: My philosophy is to enjoy whatever it is that you do. One of the few things that can be done without having to worry about other people’s intervention is creating art. The ability to excercise this kind of independence and freedom is an utmost privilege. I enjoy this aspect of my work very much.

Are there any causes you would like your art to support or raise awareness of?

Joon: I want people to recognize and understand tattoo as my visual language which is synonymous to pain, complexity, desire, responsibility, fate, the past, memory, hope, inscription, compulsion, coercion, duress and constraint, etc. And I want people to be able to use tattoo to reflect their own realities.

What are you trying to achieve or communicate through your art?

Joon: I would like people to be able to think about their own tattoos and re-examine their lives through seeing my work. Tattoo or tatooing symbolizes the multi-layered composites of desire and will, emotion and action, pain and pleasure of self and other (tattooist) which can be translated as a complex system of complicit activities. This is much like the way in which our lives are conducted in the larger social matrix. I want people to be able to feel the tension between human (in)ability to control desires and situations. That we have less control than we think in defying forces in capital driven society.

What has been your biggest challenge in art?

Joon: Physical conditions- I work long hours in front of computers and that is really bad for my neck and back. I have been suffering from serious disc problems and am trying to manage that.

Related Posts

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more in depth interviews of renowned Asian artists

EW/KCE
Bookmark and Share

Posted in 3D Max, Body, Brands, Computer animation software, Electronic art, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Human Body, Identity art, Interviews, Kim Joon, Korean, Logos, New Media, Photography, Research, Resources | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »