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.

Archive for the ‘Artists as curators’ Category

Sa Sa Gallery and Art Project, new artist-run initiatives in Cambodia

Posted by artradar on July 8, 2010


CAMBODIAN EMERGING ARTISTS ARTIST-RUN SPACES PHOTOGRPAHY

In 2009, a group of artists and photographers called Stiev Selapak founded Sa Sa Art Gallery, Cambodia’s first artist-run gallery. The programming focuses on emerging Cambodian contemporary artists. With the idea of wanting to promote the Cambodian contemporary art by supporting emerging Cambodian artists, Stiev Selapak started a new non-commercial initiative in early 2010, the Sa Sa Art Project.

Art Radar Asia spoke with Vuth Lyno, manager of Sa Sa Art Gallery, to find out more about this remarkable and influential group, gallery and project.

Chhin Taingchhea, Untitled, from Old Building series, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist.

Chhin Taingchhea, 'Untitled', "Old Building" series, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist.

Stiev Selapak formed to share ideas

Artist group Stiev Selapak was formed by six Cambodian artists and photographers in 2007, after meeting at a photography workshop. The ideal behind the group is to share, to communicate and to learn together. Three of the members graduated from the Royal University of Fine Arts and the other members came from various backgrounds.

Vuth Lyno, Sa Sa Art Gallery’s manager, for example, began his career in the arts as an information technology and communications specialist. In his work, he was required to take photographs for promotional communications which lead to a desire to explore artistic photography.

“Later on I realised that photography is not just about taking photos of happy people. I wanted to show real lives of people. For me that was the entry point.” Vuth Lyno, speaking with Art Radar Asia.

Vuth Lyno, Untitled, from Reflect series, 2007. Image courtesy of   the artist.

Vuth Lyno, 'Untitled', "Reflect" series, 2007. Image courtesy of the artist.

Each of the members implement their projects individually, but also work together. As Lyno elaborates: “Sometimes we would go out, take photos and document, review and show them to each other, comment and share what could be improved in a way where we could reflect [on] our personal inner perspectives.”

Sa Sa Art Gallery is founded

Stiev Selapak opened Sa Sa Art Gallery in early 2009. Significantly, Sa Sa is an abbreviation of Stiev Salapak, who are also known as the Art Rebels. For the group, the name Art Rebels did not find meaning in rebelling, but saw it more as wanting to do something new. “We want to introduce contemporary photography to people here and promote it to a wider audience,” Lyno divulges.

In the beginning, the group wanted to find a space which they could work in. Having some support, they could start having exhibitions. Mostly these events showcased photographic works, but the group soon realised that it was not only about Stiev Selapak, it was also about Cambodian artists and Cambodian contemporary photography.

“I believe that we contribute to the local art scene. When we had finished our creation of Sa Sa [Art Gallery] we had attended a one year photography workshop; we had group exhibitions together from all the students graduating from the class. That for me was the big step into the scene, when we look at it from the contemporary photography side.” Vuth Lyno, speaking with Art Radar Asia.

In Cambodia, most of the galleries are foreign-owned. Being artists themselves, the members of Stiev Selapak felt that Cambodian artists did not have a productive and equal relationship with these galleries. They commonly felt they needed a space that was Cambodian-owned, independent and that helped other artists.

Creating the gallery, the founders did not only exhibit their own works, but also work from other local artist groups. Though the size of the gallery is limited, they can still present and sell a decent-sized body of work. ”It’s a matter of how we can present that. So far we’ve exhibited a lot of photography, but we also show paintings and drawings,” Lyno elaborates.

Kong Vollak, Untitled, from Building 2 drawing series, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist.

Kong Vollak, 'Untitled', "Building 2" series, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist.

Sa Sa Art Project – a haven for experimental art practice

Earlier this year, Stiev Selapak founded a non-commercial initiative called the Sa Sa Art Project. This project is dedicated to experimental art practice and can accommodate installation art, residencies, meetings, and classes. The main goal is simple – to create opportunities for young artists to realise new ideas, to share their experiences and knowledge, as well as to educate the next generation about art.

One of the main activities of the project is inviting new and emerging artists to live and work at the Sa Sa Art Project’s space. Here they can experiment with new ideas free of any of the limitations normally encountered in commercial galleries. Each residency ends with a short exhibition. One drawing class every week is also held under the project which caters to students and local artists.

Both the Sa Sa Art Gallery and the Sa Sa Art project were created and founded by  Stiev Selapak, but what sets them apart from each other is that the gallery is operating commercially, hosting artist talks and welcoming students. The gallery focuses on showcasing emerging Cambodian contemporary artists’ bodies of work. The art project’s aim is to foster a community of knowledge sharing among artists. It tries to create opportunities for new artists, but also works as an educational program.

Funding and support in the Cambodian art industry

Finding spaces for the gallery and the project was easy, but the more challenging task was finding sustainable funding. In early March this year, Stiev Selapak organised a fundraiser so that they could continue with the programming of the gallery and to expand activities for the art project. Though they sometimes depend on the support from the public, most of the time the founders fund the gallery themselves. Since it is run with minimal funding and minimal resources, their communication and marketing are limited as well.

At the moment, the Sa Sa Art Gallery doesn’t operate on the same scale as other galleries in Cambodia, who represent a number of artists. Sa Sa is limited to representing the founders of Stiev Selapak and a few other artists they have close relationships with. One of the founders, internationally-known artist Vandy Rattana, is one of the more exposed artists in the group, exhibiting his works in Asia and in the U.S.

Vandy Rattana, Untitled, from Fire of the Year series, 2008. Image courtesy of the artist.

Vandy Rattana, 'Untitled', "Fire of the Year" series, 2008. Image courtesy of the artist.

“We have a new wave of artists and photographers coming now, continuing their practices in contemporary photography.” Vuth Lyno, speaking with Art Radar Asia.

One big difference in the Cambodian art scene is that ten years ago there were maybe a couple of contemporary art galleries, a number which has increased significantly over the past few years. Having the experience of creating and starting a gallery, Lyno’s advice would be to consider the idea carefully.

“Putting on an exhibition might not generate enough funds to continue running the gallery. Those who wish to start thinking of opening a gallery need to consider it carefully in terms of marketing [and] connections with buyers and collectors. These approaches have been adopted by many other galleries in town already. There are many gallery/restaurant/café [establishments]. My approach when I mean art gallery, [I mean] a clean gallery where they can appreciate the art.”

Neighbouring countries are more established and more systematic in terms of the development of their arts industries. The founders of Stiev Salapak believe that artists should make an effort to engage with each other in order to learn more. As there is almost no support from the government for the art in Cambodia, artists need to make the effort to create opportunities for themselves in the Southeast Asian region as well as in Cambodia itself. In saying this, although the art scene in Cambodia is relatively new, there has been a significant advancement in recent years.

The main goal for Stiev Salapak has always been to promote Cambodian contemporary art and by doing that, they support emerging artists. As Lyno states, this original idea has not changed. It has evolved into something bigger, meaning that the idea has evolved into something that can now accommodate and support Cambodian artists adequately.

“When we started as a group, we thought we wanted to create a new way of contemporary photographing and to support that we needed a space. Later on we realised it was not about our group, but about Cambodian artists, new emerging artists, the Cambodian contemporary art scene and [making a contribution] to the art scene. We also wanted to welcome other artists. That’s why we created the art project, so we can engage more emerging artist to realise their ideas; to create opportunities for them to experiment [with] their new ideas without any limitations.” Vuth Lyno, speaking with Art Radar Asia.

JAS/KN

Related Topics: artist-run spaces, Southeast Asian artists, photography

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more on Southeast Asian art spaces

Bookmark  and Share

Posted in Art spaces, Artist-run, Artists as curators, Business of art, Cambodia, Cambodian, Emerging artists, From Art Radar, Groups and Movements, Photography, Promoting art, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Will Vietnamese non-profit art space Sàn Art shift the art scene from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city? – interview Dinh Q Le

Posted by artradar on December 15, 2009


SOUTHEAST ASIAN CONTEMPORARY ART

Here is a useful Art Info interview with artist Dinh Q. Le, one of the four founders of the renowned Vietnamese non-profit Sàn Art. Multimedia artist Dinh Q. Le will be having a solo show at MOMA in 2010. Read on for his perspective on the Vietnamese art scene, the challenges and opportunities ahead and how San Art is already drawing artists away from Hanoi to create a new vibrant art scene in Ho Chi Minh City.

 Sàn Art was established in 2007 as an independent, non-profit, artist-run exhibition space located in Ho Chi Minh City. The contemporary art space is completely supported by grants and individual contributions, and dedicates itself to the exchange and cultivation of contemporary art in Vietnam.

 

Interior photo of the San Art exhibition space

The focus of the interview with Dinh Q. Le is about Sàn Art’s cultural context, history, and future in Ho Chi Minh City. After frustration with trying to fund a non-for-profit organization in Vietnam, Dinh Q. Le set up the Vietnam Foundation for the Arts (VNFA) in Los Angeles with the help of his dealers Shoshana and Wayne Blank, owners of Shoshana Wayne Gallery.

Dinh Q. Le

VNFA’s original programs were focused on disseminating information about art from outside Vietnam, lecture series, and grant programs. After realizing the need to showcase artists’ works, they switched some of the funding from the VNFA lecture and artist grant programs to fund the opening of Sàn Art.

Here are some questions and responses from the interview:

What was the art scene in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) like when you first returned to Vietnam in 1993? What inspired you to get involved?

The biggest reason I wanted to do something to help was because of the respect I felt for young artists at the time. They were well trained as painters and traditional sculptors and could actually make a decent living by creating works catering to the emerging tourist art market. But they decided to abandon their traditional training and try out installation and conceptual art, even when they had little information on these practices. I thought they were very brave.

How does Sàn Art fit within the Vietnamese art system? Is it recognized by the government?

Sàn Art acts as a bridge between local and international art scenes. We are nationally recognized. All our openings have been televised nationally by government stations and written up in the local and national newspapers. I guess, in a way, they are supportive. But at the same time, they are also keeping their distance and keeping a watchful eye on us.

Photo from current exhibition titled "Collection Show" running from December 1-28. Unknown Monsters; acrylic on canvas Dimensions Variable; 2009 Artist: Tyke Witnes

How do you think Sàn Art has impacted the local art scene?

The biggest impact is that Sàn Art created a community that was not here before. Hanoi used to be the place to go if you were an international curator coming to learn about the Vietnamese contemporary art scene, but today many artists from Hanoi are considering moving to HCMC.

Upcoming solo exhibition of American artist Hap Tivey, titled "Light Shreds - 2000 Car Paintings" opening on December 31st.

With new leadership in place, a new building, and two years of experience behind you, what does the future hold for Sàn Art?

We hope that Sàn Art will have a closer working relationship with the HCMC Fine Arts Association and the HCMC Fine Arts University so that we can reach out to the older members of the Fine Arts Association and to the students at the university. Sàn Art can contribute a tremendous amount of content to their programs through our international connections. Like many artist-run spaces, our most fundamental hope is for Sàn Art to be financially stable so we can keep serving the community.

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more market and auction house news

SF/KCE

Posted in Art spaces, Artist Nationality, Artist-run, Artists as curators, Connecting Asia to itself, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Interviews, Nonprofit, Profiles, Vietnam, Vietnamese | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sin Sin, Hong Kong gallerist and Indonesian art specialist, on recently flourishing Indonesian art scene- interview-

Posted by artradar on September 9, 2009


INDONESIAN CONTEMPORARY ART

Sin Sin, Hong Kong curator, artist, and designer

Sin Sin, Hong Kong curator, artist, and designer

It was a sweltering Hong Kong afternoon, and I was feeling scattered after running through Hong Kong’s charmingly retro Hollywood Road district in search of the renowned Sin Sin Atelier. Upon discovering it, I was escorted into Sin Sin’s office, which was unlike any ‘office’ I have ever seen. I felt I had stumbled upon an oasis of tranquility within Central, or a secret inner sanctum. Clearly I had found a special place, and a very special woman. Her name is Sin Sin, and she was kind enough to spend some of her time speaking with Art Radar.

To be blunt, Sin Sin is the reigning queen of Indonesian art in Hong Kong. A well-traveled ‘lifestyle designer’, she opened the Sin Sin Atelier in 1998, which features her personally designed collection of Southeast Asian inspired clothing, handbags, and jewelry. She also runs the Sin Sin Fine Art Gallery, which is widely considered to be among the most prominent art galleries in Hong Kong, and represents the best artists from Indonesia and around the world. The Sin Sin Annex, located across from the atelier, displays progressive installation and performance art, and serves as a public space for artist lectures. Sin Sin’s establishments are distinguished as Hong Kong’s only art spaces specializing in Indonesian art.

Also, as though Sin Sin weren’t multi-tasking enough, art lovers traveling to Bali in Indonesia can stay at Villa Sin Sin, Sin Sin’s 3 signature villas designed in collaboration with star-architect Gianni Francione, which surround guests in Balinese art and Indonesian beauty.

But questions remain, what makes this energetic art maven tick? Why is she working with Indonesian art in Hong Kong, and what insight can she offer into the Southeast Asian art scene? Read on for more.

Humble Hong Kong beginnings

Sin Sin now deals in artworks from all around the world and wistfully describes art as the ‘taste of life’, but once upon a time she was a Hong Kong Chinese girl growing up in a Chinese incense-filled temple in the rural mountainous Diamond Hill area of Kowloon, Hong Kong, and lived alongside native clans people.

Born into a devout Catholic family in the late 50’s, she studied at a Catholic school. As far her education beyond that, she is proud to be self-taught and comments, “I wasn’t into academics… I was always involved in creative activities, like acting, dancing, singing… There is an ancient Chinese saying about my approach to education. Roughly translated it means I would rather gain life experience by walking my journey.”

A true free spirit, she says that she always wanted a career in art, but her highly successful career has been spontaneous rather than strategic. She remarks, “I didn’t plan this, you can’t plan.” When she is not making and managing art at her atelier, she can be found performing Chinese opera, practicing calligraphy, or traveling and enjoying life.

Eddie Hara, Yunizar

Left: Monster City, by I Gusti Ngurah Buda, 2007. Middle: Big Mouth Says Nothing, by Eddie Hara, 2005. Right: Frizzy Buddha, by Yunizar, 2004.

Lucky eye for art

She always had a keen eye for art, and her ability to pluck artwork that will appreciate in the future from far-flung galleries is uncanny. She describes her first experience buying art, which was 18 years ago in Vietnam, when she bought a piece for a few hundred US dollars that is now estimated to be worth 30-50 times what she paid:

“Years ago [1991] when I was starting to collect art, I was lucky to see the work of Bùi Xuân Phái in Vietnam. I felt strongly attracted by his work, and wanted to learn more about him… It happens to have appreciated quite a lot, but it is extremely special to me for the way it makes me feel.”

“West is mature, the East is upcoming”

Sin Sin has a connection to multiple places and cultures, including Hong Kong, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, and mainland China. She explains:

“I appreciate the earthiness of these cultures, the simple and beautiful life of the people. Of course I’ve traveled to the States and Europe, but when I was younger the West didn’t speak to my soul yet. Their attitudes are developed, not exciting and new. There is no pleasure in the modern world… In the East there is something new, but under developed. You can feel the suffering and people waiting to be discovered. It speaks more to the soul, more natural, more earthy… West is mature, the East is upcoming.”

Regarding her extensive travels, Sin Sin says, “I love India, Shangri-la, Yunan… Bali and Indonesia was amazing energy for my 20’s, so many people go and never come home. And people there are willing and wanting to do something, there are so many possibilities when things are cheaper. Now there is a different need in my life. I go to places like Tuscany and Switzerland. [Also] there is different energy in Yunan, it is mysterious, powerful, and severe, but in a calm and peaceful way.”

Bob Sick, Eddie Hara, and Putu

Left: Family, by Bob Sick Yudhita, 2007. Middle: Postcards From the Alps 29, by Eddie Hara, 2003. Right: Where Are My Wings, by Putu Sutawijaya, 2007.

Why Indonesian art?

Sin Sin has been cultivating close relationships with Indonesian artists for the past 6 years. She does not speak Indonesian Bahasar yet she does not experience barriers communicating with the artists: “That is part of the beauty between me and the artists, we still understand.”

So why is Sin Sin so interested in Indonesian art? She explains:

“It makes me happy to see them [the artists and communities] grow. They are open, free, and they share. When one artist sells, it is good for the group. I don’t want to say mission- but, I want to share the beauty of this part of the world. I’ve traveled to Indonesia for about 24 years, and I fell in love, even though there are things to hate, like there are in any country. But, I loved the nature and the culture, that it’s between Hindu and Muslim, and it’s so beautiful. Who doesn’t like this? It is full of color, freedom, the beauty of nature, and ceremony. You feel free as a bird.”

The Indonesian Invasion Exhibition

Sin Sin credits curating the Indonesian Invasion exhibition as the favorite project of her career, and it was certainly a significant event in the Asian art world. It stands as the largest and most important survey of contemporary Indonesian art that has ever been shown outside of Indonesia. It took place April 2- May 15, 2008 at the Sin Sin Annex and Atelier, featuring 14 of the most notable Indonesian artists of this generation. Each artist was chosen for his distinct individuality, and most already had prior success selling at auction. The following artists were included:

Bob Sick YudhitaEddie HaraEntang WiharsoI Gusti Ngurah Buda Jumaldi AlfiMuhamad IrfanPande Ketut Taman

Putu SutawijayaRudi MantofaniS. Teddy DarmawanTisna SanjayaUgo UntoroYunizarZulkarnaini

Enin Supriyanto, an Indonesian curator, also contributed to the exhibition with his lecture ‘The Contemporary and Sub-Cultures: A Slice of Indonesian Contemporary Art,’ on March 31, 2008 at the Hong Kong Visual Arts Center. This lecture was recorded and is currently accessible to the public at the Asia Art Archive.  The Indonesian Invasion exhibition was also documented by Roland Hagenberg, and his coverage and artist interviews are available on Youtube.

Kokok sculpture and paintings

Left: Cutting Soldier, by Kokok Sancoko, 2009. Middle: Painting #11, by Kokok Sancoko, 2009. Right: Painting #15, by Kokok Sancoko.

Sin Sin on the Indonesian Art Scene

Q: Which artists do you collect and admire?

“I admire so many… I don’t put myself in a box, like, this is the only kind of work I like- boring! It depends on the message they channel. I like primitive and contemporary. I appreciate ancient things. I would also like to see Western artists inspired by the East, and Eastern artists inspired by the West, but this takes time…”

“Of Indonesian artists, I collect YunizarRudi MantofaniPutu Sutawijaya, S. Teddy Darmawan, and Jumaldi Alfi. Of Chinese artists, I collect Sun Guangyi,  Wong How Man, Wong Yan Kwai, and Niu An (Ann New). Overseas artists in my collection include Rolf Lorenz [UK], and Rick Lewis [USA].”

Q: Who is the most significant Indonesian artist right now?

“I love them all, the beauty is that they are all individual and different. YunizarPutu Sutawijaya, Rudi Mantofani, and Jumaldi Alfi are very established, and their work is difficult to get because they are very hot at the moment… Bob Sick Yudhita is one of a kind. He is a real, true artist, and works in a street art style, like Jean-Michel Basquiat.”

Kokok Sancoko is among the most prominent upcoming artists, and is a great observer. His work gives viewers a lot of room to think.”

S. Teddy Darmawan is an artist who is never afraid of taking risks and making art with many possibilities. There is no doubt of Teddy’s passion to the art world.”

Sin Sin describes a big jump in the Indonesian art scene recently (in the past 2-3 years) and for the first time is seeing interest from the West and overseas. Coincidentally, Indonesia was classified as a ‘Next 11’ country by Goldman Sachs in 2005, a country with a newly emerging economy with optimistic outlook for investment. Sin Sin agrees these shifts in world affairs ‘obviously’ appear to correspond to the contemporary art market, because citizens are finally becoming monied enough to purchase their own cultural symbols, and the international profile of a country rises and gains esteem among other nations, which will also purchase the artwork from that country. Hence, Indonesian art is finally making its way to New York City.

Q: Who are the professionals you most admire and enjoy working with in Indonesian art?

Enin Supriyanto, a curator of Indonesian art. He knows it and is supportive, and gives his honest idea.

Q: Which institutions do you recommend to art lovers in Indonesia?

Komaneka Fine Art Gallery in Bali, a casual Ubud gallery, and the Nadi Fine Art Gallery in Jakarta.

Q: Where are most Indonesian artists educated?

The most artists are in Jogja [Yogyakarta, also Jogja, Yogya, Jogjakart], and the school is there [Indonesian Institute of the Arts]. Most artists are trained at this one school.

Q: I noticed your formal title on your website is ‘Lifestyle Creator’. What is a lifestyle creator?

I’m involved in all aspects of creative design. Sometimes I’m a curator, a designer, and sometimes I feel like a producer when I put so much of my energy into a project. Who am I, then? Call me an artist, a creator.

Q: What future projects are you excited about?

Something I’m planning, but can’t speak on yet. I’m also interested in creating a show overseas. It is a beauty for people to see another part of the world like this. I’m looking for the right gallery, and I’m ready to see what we can collaborate overseas. I am based here to contribute something to my society, but I’m sure my artists want to go further, and I’d like to take them far away. I’d like to take the East to the West to show the new vision of the East. As a Hong Kong Chinese, I want to introduce this artwork, because I believe people want to know things but do not have access. Or maybe people want to know but don’t know who to talk to. Maybe I can have a contribution here.

Sin Sin’s Advice

For artists starting out:

Starting is easy! It’s like a honeymoon. If you decided, don’t give up, because it will be difficult. But I would say to artists from China, Laos, Indonesia… Why do you want to do this? Everyone discourages an artist, and being a 100% artist is so hard. They want to be free, okay, but everything comes with a price. This is the choice. It is a difficult way to go, especially in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s history is less than 50 years as a developed city, since the 1960’s. But now, art helps people… Now is like a revolution, and people should focus on life and have more energy.

For artists approaching galleries:

Do research, see what work the gallery represents and if your work matches. Then you can approach by sending something, pictures.

For new collectors:

Well, I don’t know the stock market, but if I want to buy a stock, I’d go to a good broker. If I want to buy art, I’d go to a gallery with a collection that is appealing to me, and start there.

The Sin Sin Atelier and Annex is located at 52-53 Sai Street, in Central Hong Kong, and the Sin Sin Fine Art Gallery is at 1 Prince’s Terrace, Mid-levels, Hong Kong.

-contributed by Erin Wooters

Related Posts

Related Links

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more interviews with artists and art professionals

Posted in Artists as curators, Curators, Gallerists/dealers, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Artists, Indonesia, Indonesian, Interviews, Putu Sutawijaya, Uncategorised | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by artradar on August 19, 2009


HONG KONG ART

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

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

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

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

Pigment Ink on canvas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Do you have a favorite city or place? 

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

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

Q: What does the bed symbolize?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about the Artist behind the Folding Bed

IMG_2637

Tim Li before his artwork. Photography by Erin Wooters.

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

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

Q: Are you from Hong Kong?

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

Q: How does that affect your art?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: When did you know you were an artist?

I don’t even think about it.

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

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

Q: Which art publications do you read/recommend?

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

Q: Tell us about your book?

It incorporates articles about the folding bed idea.

Q: Which is your favourite art museum in Asia?

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

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

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

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

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

Contributed by Wendy Ma

Related Links:

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for exclusive Hong Kong artist interviews

Posted in Art spaces, Artists as curators, Asian, Books, Chinese, Domestic, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Artists, Individual, Installation, Interviews, New Media, Nonprofit, Open air, Photography, Professionals, Public art, Space | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by artradar on June 25, 2009


 

 

Christian Bumbarra Thompson, The Sixth Mile, video

Christian Bumbarra Thompson, The Sixth Mile, video

AUSTRALIAN ART HONG KONG

 

 

Rare display of Australian contemporary art in Hong Kong 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Kate Mitchell, 9-5, performance

Kate Mitchell, 9-5, performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for emerging artist news in and from Asia

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