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Archive for the ‘Nationalism’ Category

Russian-born Lena Liv captures Moscow’s socialist subways in Tel Aviv museum show

Posted by artradar on September 9, 2010


PHOTOGRAPHY INSTALLATION LIGHT BOXES MUSEUM SHOWS RUSSIA ISRAEL ITALY

Artist Lena Liv takes her shots in the early morning, capturing various Moscow subway stations before people crowd the architecture. Her interest in these Stalin-era “palaces for the Proletariat” may stem from a need to capture examples of the city’s “show architecture”, remnants of a building style that once mirrored state ideologies.

Russian-born, Liv has returned to her homeland after many years living and working in Italy and Israel. Her photographic installations, capturing as they do the extraordinary in the everyday, are now on show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in an exhibition titled “Cathedrals for the Masses | Lena Liv: Moscow Metro“.

Lena Liv, 'Taganskaya', 2006-2009, transparency on glass, fluorescent light, wood and metal construction. This station was opened on 1 January, 1950 and is themed on medieval architecture. Image courtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Lena Liv, 'Taganskaya', 2006-2009, transparency on glass, fluorescent light, wood and metal construction. This station was opened on 1 January, 1950 and is themed on medieval architecture. Image courtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

The museum summarises the exhibition on its website:

“Lena Liv’s lens exposes a paradox in the metro’s heroic building work: on the one hand, the buildings were meant to contain within their monumental dimensions a human body in search of domestication; on the other hand, this is building whose far-reaching ideology sought to turn Moscow from an ancient capital to the center of world Proletariat—to sow the “seeds of the new, socialist Moscow,” in the words of the journalists of the time. Above all, it seems that Lena Liv’s works testify that this show architecture was the first sprouts of a city that never materialized.”

Cathedrals for the Masses | Lena Liv: Moscow Metro is curated by Prof. Mordechai Omer and runs in collaboration with Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, Italy. The exhibition runs until 9 October this year.

Lena Liv 'Grand Mayakovskaya', 2006-2009, transparency on glass, fluorescent light, wood and metal construction. This station was opened on 11 September, 1938 and is considered a masterpiece of Soviet Art Deco. It won the 1939 Grand Prize at the New York World's Fair. Image courtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Lena Liv 'Grand Mayakovskaya', 2006-2009, transparency on glass, fluorescent light, wood and metal construction. This station was opened on 11 September, 1938 and is considered a masterpiece of Soviet Art Deco. It won the 1939 Grand Prize at the New York World's Fair. Image courtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Lena Liv, 'Elektrovodskaya 1 and 2', 2005-2006, transparency on glass, fluorescent light, wood and metal construction. This station was opened on 15 May, 1944 and is themed on the home front struggle of the Great Patriotic War. It was the winner of the 1946 Stalin Prize. Image courtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Lena Liv, 'Elektrovodskaya 1 and 2', 2005-2006, transparency on glass, fluorescent light, wood and metal construction. This station was opened on 15 May, 1944 and is themed on the home front struggle of the Great Patriotic War. It was the winner of the 1946 Stalin Prize. Image courtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Lena Liv, 'Novokuznetskaya', 2006-2009, transparency on glass, fluorescent light, wood and metal construction. This station was opened on 20 November, 1943 and is themed on WWII. It was built as a monument to Soviet military valor. Image courtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Lena Liv, 'Novokuznetskaya', 2006-2009, transparency on glass, fluorescent light, wood and metal construction. This station was opened on 20 November, 1943 and is themed on WWII. It was built as a monument to Soviet military valor. Image courtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

KN/HH

Related Topics: Russian artists, Israeli artists, European artists, photography, light art, museum shows

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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

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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 »

Krishen Khanna traces evolution of Indian modern art: innovative interview technology used

Posted by artradar on April 12, 2010


INDIAN ARTIST INTERVIEW PODCAST

Saffronart is hosting a series of invaluable art historical documentary interviews with leading Indian artists to broaden the discourse about the evolution of modern and contemporary Indian art. The imaginative use of new interactive podcast technology is an initiative to emulate by both for-profits and non-profits.

The second interview in the speaker series  is to celebrate a retrospective by Krishen Khanna at Rabindra Bhavan, the Lalit Kala Akademi, in New Delhi, which lasted from 23 January to 5 February 2010. In it Krishen Khanna talks about his inspirations for painting and experiences regarding the development of modern Indian art.

Khanna, Bandwallaas in Practice, 2002

He begins with a personal ancedote about how he became involved in India’s art scene in the 1950s: he was formerly a banker, but his wife encouraged him to quit his job and take up painting. and discusses the artists (including F.N. SouzaS.H. RazaM.F. Husain) involved in Progressive Artist Group.

He mentions specific shows, such as Souza’s 1953 show containing a frontal nude self-portrait, which shocked the public and drew the attention of the moral police. Khanna emphasises Souza’s diverse inspirations, which ranged from Hokusai and Picasso.

Khanna, In My Studio, 2008
Khanna, In My Studio, 2008

Khanna also places the Progressive Artist Group into a historical context: he discusses the exodus of artists from India after it won its independence and how major events, like the death of Gandhi, affected  Indian artists globally. He then answers personal questions involving both his participation in the Progressive Artist Group and his relationship with its members.

Using a technique that we have not seen before the 30 minute audio is organised into searchable snippets under the following categories: Souza’s Solo Show, News of Ghandi’s Death, Progressive Artists’ Group, Nationalism in Art, The Form in Art and Drawing and Painting.

To hear the podcast click here.

AL/KCE

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Related topics:  INDIAN ARTISTS, NATIONALISM IN ART, ART AND THE INTERNET

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Posted in Art and internet, India, Indian, Interviews, Krishen Khanna, Nationalism, Painting, Profiles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Is China shooting a cultural missile at Taiwanese art? Taipei Times examines

Posted by artradar on April 2, 2010


CHINA TAIWAN CULTURE CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS

More on China’s use of cultural power to influence social change

In January this year Art Radar Asia published a summary of an article printed in Canada’s Toronto Star regarding the Chinese government’s use of the “soft power” of the arts for international influence, specifically their growing recognition that media and culture can be a powerful tool to spread political, social and economic ideologies beyond its borders.”

Drunken Beauty, the star attraction in a recent popular Taiwanese exhibition of works by Chinese artist Liu Linghua. source

In a recent editorial in the Taipei Times, J. Michael Cole develops this notion further, discussing the possibility that Beijing is beginning to proactively and openly push Chinese culture into Taiwan, hoping to increase acceptance of its “one China” policy.

Under President Ma Ying-jeou, there has been a strong push by both China and Taiwan to better develop cross-strait relations and this has meant that the creative industries of both countries have been “cross-pollinating”. Coles warns that this could lead to “an assault on the Taiwanese consciousness through cultural means. By dint of repetition and subtle changes here and there (on television, in schoolbooks and academic forums), the Chinese plan could succeed in eroding Taiwanese cultural identity – at least to a certain extent.”

But just how much influence can this cultural “soft power” have on a nation with such a strong cultural identity. As Cole counteracts, “The willingness of Taiwanese to engage in more discussions with Chinese, to watch Chinese movies, attend Chinese art expositions (or gaze at pandas) is simply natural curiosity. By no means does this signify, however, that by doing so Taiwanese accept the so called Chinese nation…”

Rare artworks from China’s Palace Museum went on display in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum during a three month exhibition in late 2009. source

So, while the Chinese government has made it clear that their “cultural influence is no mere collateral – it is, in fact, the tip of a missile aimed straight at the heart,” Cole writes that “if Beijing subscribes to the belief that interest in seeing things Chinese means acceptance of its dominion over Taiwan, it is in for a very unpleasant surprise.” It does seem, however, that “for Beijing, nothing is sacred, or off limits, in its pursuit of unification.”

You can read the full editorial on the Taipei Times website: Beijing sees culture as a weapon J. Michael Cole, 5 March, 2010.

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KN/KCE

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Touring Taiwan: 50 of Taiwan’s top artworks on display at the Busan Museum of Arts, Korea

Posted by artradar on January 21, 2010


Taiwan’s top painters represented in Touring Taiwan: Highlights from the Taipei Fine Arts Museum Collection

As part of a cultural exchange between Taiwan and Korea, the Busan Museum of Art is currently showing Touring Taiwan: Highlights from the Taipei Fine Arts Museum Collection, an exhibition that will run until 15 February 2010.

Taipei Fine Arts Museum has selected 50 artworks by 40 of Taiwan’s most celebrated artists, including works by Yang San-lang (1907-1995) and Yen Shui-long (1903-1997), two of the most important painters in the history of Taiwan art.

Gallery detail in Busan Museum of Fine Arts

image courtesy of TFAM

Taiwan’s Eight Scenic Spots, which have been selected on an irregular basis by a public ballot system set up by the Japanese government in 1927, are represented in oil paintings, watercolor paintings, Chinese brush paintings and gouache paintings.

Yang San-lang, Old Street, Oil on Canvas, 72.7 x 90.9

image courtesy of TFAM

Highlighted destinations include Kenting, Yushan, Alishan and Sun Moon Lake. The paintings will be grouped according to which of the Eight Scenic Spots they represent, allowing viewers to see how the creative perspectives with which artists depict the scenery vary over time.

Yen Shui-long, Landscape of Orchid Island, Oil on canvas, 89.4 x 145.5

image courtesy of TFAM

“This exhibition is titled Touring Taiwan but the natural and humanistic scenes presented in the original vision of the artists will open a window on Taiwan for the extensive Busan audience,” said Hsiao-Yun Hsieh, Director of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

The Taipei Fine Arts Museum will honour the exchange with an exhibition of selected works from the Busan Museum of Art collection from 6 March to 25 April 2010.

KN/KCE

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Posted in Korea, Landscape, Museum shows, Museums, Nationalism, Painting, Social, Taiwanese | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

China to use “soft power” of arts for international influence

Posted by artradar on January 5, 2010


CHINESE ART AND POLITICS

China wants its own version of  Hollywood. An intriguing article in the Toronto Star examines China’s growing recognition that media and culture can be a powerful tool to spread political, social and economic ideologies beyond its borders much in the manner of the USA’s film industry.

The economic revolution in China began thirty years ago. Back then, there was nowhere to create or exhibit art works and the Chinese government hardly had time to think about art and international cultural standing. China was opened up to Western investment and the country has since surged toward becoming the world’s second largest economy. Now, China has begun to realise the power that can be gained by having a successful cultural industry.

“…a carefully calibrated gambit is playing out that links cultural production with economic development and the ruling party’s deep desire to shift from a service-first manufacturing centre to a serious, full-fledged player on the international stage.”

China is seeking the benefits of what it calls developing its “soft power”. The country has spent many years creating a booming primary and secondary industry and as a result has spent little time focussing on becoming a cultural world entity.

“…in modern China, soft power translates to a full-scale public relations campaign designed to bolster its image – and influence – by selling an in-tune, culturally savvy version of itself to the world.”

Considering China’s significant history in contributing to world culture in centuries past it is now seeing the value in developing its cultural identity again. China is opening itself up to the international art circuit and some of its artists are gaining widespread popularity and success.

The government is trying to use the arts to disseminate its political views to the world. China’s political administration increasingly views cultural production as a valuable tool for building a strong nation and is rapidly pouring millions of dollars of government money into this sector as well as opening it up for private investment.

1500 new museums to be built by 2015

“China plans to spend untold billions to build 1,500 new museums nationwide, most of them with budgets in excess of $100 million, by 2015. Meanwhile, the state-run media and entertainment bureaus announced this fall that they would spend billions themselves to help build gargantuan media and entertainment juggernauts to rival such American monoliths as Time Warner and News Corp., with the stated intent of producing content in multiple languages for export. It also said that increased private ownership, still under state scrutiny, would also be allowed.”

Many developments have been occurring over the years where old factories and former industrial areas are being rejuvenated by the government as new “art villages”, such as Beijing’s 798 Art District. These places consist of clusters of artist studios and galleries where art can be produced, viewed and sold.

798 art district third most popular tourist draw in China

“The 798 Art District has been a remarkably successful model. In its short life, it has become the third most popular tourist draw in the country, after the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Dozens of such districts dot Beijing’s urban landscape. In Shanghai, an unofficial number has such areas at close to 300.”

Beijing's 798 Art District

While there may be a move by the government to celebrate local cultural achievements on a world scale, they still want to have control over the ideologies being expressed. However, more widespread access to and use of the Internet and digital cameras has allowed distribution of Chinese art works that critique party ideals.

“…a new kind of expression that has sprouted amid the state-mandated cultural flowering. It’s a thriving underground scene that, through the portability of technology and government indifference, is slowly beginning to promote an idea alien to Chinese thinking – that individual expression can find a place, and an audience, however small, outside the party machine.”

It seems China’s political powers hold an increasingly modern and accepting view in terms of developing the country’s cultural domain. However, even China’s most celebrated artists are finding that they still must toe the ideological line in order to continue to produce their work. There is a dark side to this cultural push and many artists have found out the hard way what happens to those who challenge the government of China.

This is a summary of How China is using art (and artists) to sell itself to the world (Murray White, Toronto Star).

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KN/KCE

Posted in Asia expands, China, Chinese, Globalisation, Museums, Nationalism, Political, Social | 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

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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 »

Thai Chinese artist Nipan Oranniwesna shows installation art made of baby powder in Hong Kong – review

Posted by artradar on August 25, 2009


THAI CONTEMPORARY ART IN HONG KONG

Is national identity still relevant within our globalized world, which is more interdependent than ever before? Where do we get our identity, and what does baby powder have to do with it? Art Radar talks with the renowned Thai contemporary artist Nipan Oranniwesna at the Osage Gallery in Kowloon, Hong Kong before the opening of his latest exhibition Being….. at homE.

Napin

Storytelling through sight, smell, and unexpected mediums

Nipan Oranniwesna had a big job ahead of him when he arrived in Hong Kong for his exhibition at the Osage Gallery, perhaps the most respected experimental art gallery in Hong Kong. In only 4 days, he would create 2 massive installation exhibits that sprawl across the floor of Osage’s Kwun Tong gallery space in Kowloon, which are sculpted out of only baby powder. Not just any baby powder either, mind you. Nipan’s baby powder installations require the signature scent of a product by Johnson & Johnson that is only available in Thailand, and countless packages needed to be flown into Hong Kong for the artist’s materials. The exhibition is essentially a story, and is complete with 3 narrative installation works that consider identity and the idea of home on a global scale, a national scale, and ends considering the idea of home and connectedness to one’s personal space.

Napin_2

Powder cities demonstrate fragility

The result of Nipan’s labor is astounding. The exhibition, titled Being….. At HomE questions the validity of nation-based identity within modern society. The first piece of the show, City of Ghost, is a massive cityscape made of baby powder that depicts 13 major metropolitan cities of the world as interconnected. A similar work of his was also on display at the 2007 Venice Biennale for 6 months, and other sprawling works of sculpted baby powder cities have sold to private collectors, fetching up to $20,000 USD. Nipan explains the meaning of this work:

“Every country is nationalistic, but is it real, or does it just manipulate our thinking? This piece challenges personal and national identity. We think we are Thai, but the interconnectedness of this work demonstrates a question… I used baby powder because global society is both beautiful and fragile. The smell of the specific brand was important, as I wanted this to be a full sensory experience, with a stronger, more serious scent.”

Napin_3

Chinese National Anthem in powder suggests vulnerability

The next piece, titled ...with our flesh and blood, examines the idea of home and identity at the national level, depicting the Chinese national anthem written in baby powder. Accompanying framed works also show the Chinese anthem created from small pierced holes on paper, creating a braille-like version of the lyrics. Through these works, Nipan was subtly suggesting the vulnerability of basing personal identity on one’s nationality or ethnicity.

Nipan_4

Come home, take off your shoes.

The last piece of the show, Narrative Floor, brings the audience to the most intimate interpretation of place and identity, the home. The piece invites viewers to get involved, take off their shoes and walk on the work, which resembles a hard wood floor inlaid with photographic ‘rain drops’. Upon closer inspection, these raindrops are revealed to be small scenes from Hong Kong, China, and Thailand. Nipan admits this piece reflects his heritage; he is ethnically Chinese, but native to Thailand. The work begs the question, when a person is connected to different places, where is home? Nipan suggests everywhere that touches someone becomes a part of him, and all of those places are his home. The piece invites viewers to take off their shoes, sit down, and even lie down, demonstrating home is a feeling that can be felt anywhere one happens to be.

It’s easy to miss the meaning

The last work, Narrative Floor, is decidedly different from the other pieces, most notably because it does not use baby powder. Nipan explains:

“I wanted to use a new language. Baby powder is just one language….. I deal with the perception of the viewer, especially using distance, the space between people and artwork, the space between people and other people. This is what I access in my work. In this piece you come inside…

The exhibition is also full of clues of meaning that could be easily missed. Nipan reveals:

Every piece and work is like a sign. The way to read the exhibition is to look for the signs, issues, even though they are almost hidden, very subtle… The red in this room suggests the color of the Chinese flag. The 5 dots that are present in the exhibition title are a reference to the 5 stars on the Chinese flag. The capital letters in the exhibition title Being….. at homE are a reference to the space between the word ‘be.’ I am concerned with what lies between. Of course my work can be read in other ways, and that is okay. But I want to deal with this triangle of me, Hong Kong, and China.

Problem: Fragile art gets harmed

The delicate nature of the work is part of the art’s significance, and also leads to inevitable mishaps. Staff at the Osage Gallery mentioned they considered turning down the air conditioning to prevent air flow from disturbing the powdery surface, and Nipan cheerfully recalled the footprint he discovered in the Venice Biennale’s installation.

Solution: That’s OK.

He explains that damaging the artwork is not encouraged, but minor accidents are natural and ultimately contribute to the participatory quality of the work, relating it to viewers. Such an attitude is wise, considering the tours of school children that parade through the gallery. Furthermore, upsetting the fragile medium reinforces the essence of the work. Nipan proves although something is not meant to be broken, it may still be far too easy to destroy.

Nipan’s exhibition is among 2 others on display at the Osage Gallery in Hong Kong. Other exhibited artists include Cheo Chai-Hiang from Singapore, and Sun Yuan & Peng Yu (China). The exhibition runs from August 21-October 4, 2009.

-contributed by Erin Wooters

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Related Links:

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Asia Society brings historic show of Pakistani art to US Sep 2009

Posted by artradar on August 4, 2009


Faiza Butt. Get out of my dreams II, 2008. Ink on polyester film. H. 22 x W. 28 1/2 in. (55.9 x 72.4 cm). Private collection, London.

Faiza Butt. Get out of my dreams II, 2008. Ink on polyester film. H. 22 x W. 28 1/2 in. (55.9 x 72.4 cm). Private collection, London.

PAKISTANI ART SHOW

Along with the Japan Society and the ICP, the Asia Society based in New York is developing a reputation for curating the most influential books and shows to document emerging art coming out of Asia today.

Its upcoming show Hanging Fire promises to be no exception. Introducing Pakistani contemporary art to a wider Western audience, this taste-making show highlights the major artists to watch and trends to follow.

Find below more information from the press release:

Despite Pakistan’s reputation in the West as a politically and socially volatile nation, it has been fostering a vibrant yet low-profile contemporary art scene for the past two decades.

The Asia Society Museum in New York City is proud to present this work in the first major exhibition of contemporary Pakistani art in the United States.


Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art From Pakistan will explore the seeming contradiction of Pakistan’s flourishing art scene within the struggling nation.

Hanging Fire is curated for the Asia Society by the distinguished Salima Hashmi, one of Pakistan’s most important writers and curators, and the daughter of Pakistan’s most renowned poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

The exhibition will showcase 55 works by 15 artists, comprising installation art, video, photography, painting and sculpture. A number of the works have never been exhibited, including a large-scale site-specific painting by Imran Qureshi.

On the inspiration for the show, Asia Society Museum Director,  Dr. Melissa Chiu, comments:

“The idea for Hanging Fire came from a recognition that over the past decade, a new generation of artists in Pakistan have created compelling works that have largely gone unnoticed outside their country. The exhibition includes artists for whom the highly charged socio-political context in which they live and work is critical to understanding their art.”

The exhibition’s title, Hanging Fire, refers to an idiom that means “to delay decision.” In the context of the exhibition, the title invites the audience to delay judgment, particularly about contemporary society and artistic expression in Pakistan. It also alludes to the modern economic, social, and political tensions––both local and global––from which the featured artists find their creative inspiration.

A full color, 160-page publication by Yale University Press will accompany the exhibition. On exhibition 10 September through 3 January, 2010.

A list of artists in the exhibition follows:

  • Hamra Abbas, b. 1976, Kuwait; lives and works in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and Boston
  • Bani Abidi, b. 1971, Karachi; lives and works in Karachi
  • Zahoor ul Akhlaq, b. 1941, Delhi; died 1999, Lahore
  • Faiza Butt, born 1973, Lahore; lives and works in London
  • Ayaz Jokhio , b. 1978, Mehrabpur, Sindh; lives and works in Lahore
  • Naiza Khan, b. 1968, Bahawalpur, Punjab; lives and works in Karachi
  • Arif Mahmood, b. 1960, Karachi; lives and works in Karachi
  • Huma Mulji, b. 1970, Karachi; lives and works in Lahore
  • Asma Mundrawala, b. 1965, Karachi; lives and works in Karachi
  • Imran Qureshi, b. 1972, Hyderabad, Sindh; lives and works in Lahore
  • Rashid Rana, b. 1968, Lahore; lives and works in Lahore
  • Ali Raza, b. 1969, Lahore; lives and works in Boone, North Carolina, and Lahore
  • Anwar Saeed, b. 1955, Lahore; lives and works in Lahore
  • Adeela Suleman, b. 1970, Karachi; lives and works in Karachi
  • Mahreen Zuberi, b. 1981, Karachi; lives and works in Karachi

Related Links:

Imran Qureshi (born 1972). Moderate Enlightenment, 2007. Gouache on wasli. H. 9 x W. 7 in. (22.9 x 17.8 cm). Aicon Gallery, New York.

Imran Qureshi (born 1972). Moderate Enlightenment, 2007. Gouache on wasli. H. 9 x W. 7 in. (22.9 x 17.8 cm). Aicon Gallery, New York.

Related Posts:

The posts below provide more introductory material to Pakistani contemporary art useful for comparison with the Asia Society’s take on the art scene in Pakistan.

Contributed by Erin Wooters

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Posted in Art spaces, Events, Islamic art, Miniatures, Museum shows, Museums, Nationalism, New York, Pakistan, Pakistani, Rashid Rana, USA | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

80 per cent of Iraqi artists live elsewhere – Creativity vs Destruction review

Posted by artradar on July 23, 2009


IRAQ ART REVIEW

Around 80 per cent of Iraq’s artists now live elsewhere but many are still driven to explore events in their former homeland, as is shown in Creativity vs Destruction, a group exhibition of Iraqi art in Edinburgh, part of the Reel Iraq Festival. A review in the Scotsman explains that although the title pits creativity against destruction, the work displayed suggests a more subtle relationship between the two.

Here is an extract from the review:

Hanaa Mal Allah, who is regarded as one of Iraq’s foremost female painters, left Baghdad in 2006 under the Scholars at Risk Scheme which helps academics whose life or work is threatened in their home country. Her two large canvases, from a series called Vivid Ruins, are creative works born of destruction – canvas which has been burned, cut, patched together and pierced with threads and twigs. Hung in the middle of the Roxy’s subdued, ecclesiastical space, they are both painful and beautiful.

Hanaa Mal-Allah, The Map of Iraq 2008

Hanaa Mal-Allah, The Map of Iraq 2008

In a small, darkened side chapel, she presents three smaller works, including a book in which the pages, though similarly damaged, show fragments of Arabic writing and patterns. They speak of the way a culture is destroyed by the looting of its artefacts and wrecking of its sites; how its sense of itself is reduced to fragments. This is complex, mature work, elegiac rather than angry – all the more remarkable for being achieved in the midst of ongoing destruction.

Wafaa Bilal takes a more confrontational approach. Arrested and tortured for his political artwork under Saddam Hussein, he now lives in the United States. He lost his father and brother in the most recent war.

Wafaa Bilal dodges paintballs

Wafaa Bilal dodges paintballs

In Domestic Tension: Shoot an Iraqi, an interactive performance work, Bilal lived in isolation for 31 days in a Chicago gallery where visitors – or viewers online via a 24-hour webcam and automatic setup – could operate a paintball machine to fire at him at any time. The response was immense, and polarising. More than 60,000 shots were fired, while a group of self-appointed “protectors” worked shifts online to point the gun away from him.

 

The project received overwhelming worldwide attention, garnering the praise of the Chicago Tribune, which called it “one of the sharpest works of political art to be seen in a long time,” and Newsweek’s assessment “breathtaking.” It spawned provocative online debates and ultimately, Bilal was awarded the Chicago Tribune’s Artist of the Year Award.

Buy book here: Wafa Bilal's life journey Save an Iraqi

Buy book here: Wafa Bilal's life journey Save an Iraqi

In the film shown here, he speaks matter-of-factly about that experience while dodging a barrage of paintballs behind a plastic shield. The work captures something of the sense of living under fire, while showing that interactive art, when it is done well, can do what good art has always done: make us understand something important in a new way.

 

 

 

 

Sama Alshaibi, an Iraqi-Palestinian artist who is now a naturalised American, uses her work to explore the complex issues which arise from her nationality. Her film Diatribes, which intersperses her own dialogue with US broadcasts from the time of the bombing of Baghdad, feels raw and unresolved – understandably so.

To Eat Bread, Sama Alshaibi

To Eat Bread, Sama Alshaibi

Her photographs use more oblique means. In her Birthright series, which focuses on Palestine, and Between Two Rivers, about Iraq, she uses her own body as a symbol of a country subject to damage.

The Loss, Sama Alshaibi

The Loss, Sama Alshaibi

Contemporary art is sometimes described as self-indulgent, but the pressure of the political circumstances give the works in this show an urgency and vitality. Yet it’s wrong to expect artists to produce answers; these are individual responses, each is the product of the artist’s own experience and concerns.

 

 

Related links

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Posted in Activist, Collaborative, Collage, Human Body, Interactive art, Iraqi, Nationalism, Participatory, Performance, Photography, Political, Reviews, Shows, UK, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »