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Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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    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.

Posts Tagged ‘public art’

New Taiwanese book focusses on personal connection with art

Posted by artradar on September 7, 2010


ART HISTORY BOOKS PUBLIC ART PERSONAL CONNECTION TAIWAN SCHOLARS

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

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

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

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

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

Editors’ Note

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

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

KN/HH

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

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Posted in Artist Nationality, Medium, Professionals, Public art, Resources, Scholars, Sculpture, Styles, Taiwanese, Trends, Writers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Israeli kinetic artist Yaacov Agam helps make “Taipei Beautiful”

Posted by artradar on July 29, 2010


PUBLIC ART INSTALLATION ISRAELI ARTISTS KINETIC ART

A public art installation by pioneering Israeli kinetic artist Yaacov Agam was inaugurated in May this year in Taipei City, Taiwan. The NTD60 million design was commissioned to cover Shuiyuan Market in the city’s Gongguan business district as part of the Taipei City Government’s “Taipei Beautiful” project.

Yaacov Agam's 'The Heart of the Fountainhead' covers Taipei City's Shuiyuan Market.

Yaacov Agam's 'The Heart of the Fountainhead' covers Taipei City's Shuiyuan Market.

Catherine Shu, in a feature article published in the Taipei Times, describes the work, titled The Heart of the Fountainhead, as such,

It encompasses the exterior of Shuiyuan Market near National Taiwan University, with rainbow-colored panels concealing air conditioners (which Agam refers to as “visual aggression”). The centerpiece is a giant mural facing Roosevelt Road that relies on audience participation to fully blossom. From the left of the artwork, viewers see a blue and white grid, with ovals, circles and triangles sparsely interspersed throughout. From the right is a geometric rainbow that spirals into a white center.

In this same article, Agam describes his work:

The artwork I call unity and diversity, because [on one side] you have this composition, it is only blue and white and then you have the other side, which is all color. The two are different, so you can call it the yin and yang. [The right side] is like the positive, with the revolving lines, the spiral and the color. It’s positive like the movement of life and then the other side is the opposite, with no color.

This is not Agam’s first project in Taiwan; two years ago he erected an installation titled Peaceful Communication for the World, consisting of a number blocky colorful columns, at the Kaohsiung National Stadium. It was one of five public artworks created by world-renowned artists, invited during the building of the stadium.

Yaacov Agam's 'Peaceful Communication for the World' at the Kaohsiung National Stadium.

Yaacov Agam's 'Peaceful Communication for the World' at the Kaohsiung National Stadium.

This could explain why, as stated on the Park West Gallery Art Blog, “when the Taipei City Government decided a renovation was in order for Shuiyuan Market, they immediately invited Agam to design a large-scale public artwork.”

According to the Taipei City Government’s Department of Culture Affairs, The Heart of the Fountainheadis the first super-size polymorph creation in Asia.”

KN

Related Topics: public art, kinetic art, Israeli artists, utopian art

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Posted in Artist Nationality, Installation, Israeli, Kinetic, Public art, Spiritual, Taiwan, Utopian art, Venues, Yaacov Agam | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Anish Kapoor given sculptural commission in London’s Olympic Park

Posted by artradar on April 14, 2010


ANISH KAPOOR TO DESIGN SCULPTURE FOR LONDON’S OLYMPIC PARK

Anish Kapoor’s new work, to be titled The ArcelorMittal Orbit, will commemorate the London 2012 Olympics in Olympic Park.

 

Anish Kapoor, Proposed ArcelorMittal Orbit

Anish Kapoor, Proposed ArcelorMittal Orbit

Anish Kapoor has received a commission to construct The ArcelorMittal Orbit in London’s Olympic Park, continuing his successes in London following a 2003 Unilever installation in the Tate Modern and a 2009 show at the Royal Academy.

The sculpture will be made of tubular steel and will be the tallest in the UK, rising to a height of 115 m- 22m taller than New York’s Statue of Liberty. There will be a special viewing platform near the top, allowing tourists to see spectacular views of all of London. It is already being considered the monument of the Games for the East End.

AL/KCE

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Posted in Anish Kapoor, Indian, London, Public art, Sculpture, UK | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gallerist Salwa Zeidan explains mission of inaugural Abu Dhabi Sculpture Symposium – interview

Posted by artradar on March 13, 2010


UNITED ARAB EMIRATES SCULPTURE SYMPOSIUM

Salwa Zeidan, gallerist and an organiser of the inaugural Abu Dhabi International Sculpture Symposium (ADISS),  (25 February to 7 April 2010 at Zayed University) talks to Art Radar about the mission of ADISS, government sponsorship of the arts and her favourite Emirati sculptor.

Her gallery, the Salwa Zeidan Gallery. has collaborated with Zayed University to bring ADISS to Abu Dhabi. Its theme is “Bridging Societies Through the Language of Art,” and involves bringing specially commissioned sculpture to the city as well as opening a dialogue about public art in Abu Dhabi.

Billy Lee, EOS 2004

Billy Lee, EOS 2004

What is the mission of ADISS?

Our mission is mainly to make art available and accessible to everyone so that ordinary people from all walks of life can enjoy a piece of art and interact with it. We also want to create an artistic atmosphere in Abu Dhabi for residents and visitors to enjoy. As beautiful and peaceful as it is, Abu Dhabi is missing public art in its streets and roundabouts and so I believe we came at the right time to compliment the city with these monumental pieces of art.

Has its mission changed since its conception?

No. However, it became more interesting.. to see how many people are so excited about seeing the sculptures in the streets.

Gregor Kregar, Twisting the Void

Gregor Kregar, Twisting the Void

How is ADISS different from other art-related international symposiums?

Well it is taking place in Abu Dhabi, a city known for its high-quality events but the most significant difference is that it is under the patronage of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and is being organized by major entities such as Zayed University and the Municipality – all of these factors have elevated the project to a national scale.

How will ADISS impact the local art scene?

It is very important to see art every day in our lives, and interact with it til it becomes a permanent part of our lives. Events such as ADISS have the power to enrich the art scene as a whole by making it more common and this is very important for a contemporary country such as Abu Dhabi.

What about its global impact?

If we look around the world, we see the economy is not at its best, and this situation is reflecting on the art scene in general, so it is in some areas getting from bad to worse for artists. Abu Dhabi is extending so much attention towards art through Art Abu Dhabi, ADISS and other cultural initiatives by ADACH (Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage) and TDIC (Tourism Development and Investment Company), and through future projects that are being developed such as Saadiyat (the Art district) – this is very encouraging for artists from all over the world as it places art at the forefront of sociological evolution. Such progress is very promising for artists from all walks of life including myself.

Jo Kley, Helix Anröchter

Jo Kley, Helix Anröchter

Do you have a favorite piece being created for ADISS? If so, why?

I like most of the pieces being created, the most important thing is that they are being created in Abu Dhabi and for Abu Dhabi the city that I love, and these pieces are going to stay, the thought that we are creating a new reality for this city is great. When I see how these blocks are being transformed into wonderful sculptures everyday and how the artists are so happy to be here to create and leave their work on this land, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. We are about to change the face of Abu Dhabi with all these great artworks!

How does the general population in Abu Dhabi view art, and will their perceptions change after ADISS?

I’m sure it is going to help the change, and eventually their perception about art will change since living with art on a daily basis is bound to change their way of thinking about art in general no matter what the current state of mind may be.

Is public art the best way for people to include art in their everyday lives?

I guess so, it broadens their horizons to a new reality that will bring forth new questions and new answers which will eventually impact their evolution positively.

Masahiro, Lotus

Masahiro, Lotus

The Abu Dhabi art scene is thriving? Is there anything you would like to change? Why? Regarding the Abu Dhabi art scene, do you have any favorite local artists?

Hassan Sharif is my favorate Emirati artist… He is also one of the Symposium artists working on a great piece called “step” which is going to be 6 meters high. Hassan was the first Emirati national to pursue a career as an artist in the UAE; he has and continues to be one of the most significant influences on the local art scene. There are a few young local artists that I like as well, whom I believe have lots of potential to advance and grow. As a gallerist I have made it my mission to find such talents, nurture them, offer them a place to exhibit their works and give them the right advice to help them realize their full abilities.

I believe local artists will advance much more once the art projects in Abu Dhabi are fully realized and once they have the chance to see and live with works by some of the most influencial artists of our time. They will definitely develop their talents even more and are keen to do so… I see them working very hard at developing themselves and have all the tools they need at their finger tips so why not? I’m very optimistic about the local art scene and find that all the support they are receiving from their rulers and their governments is bound to strenghten their resolve even further and enable them to acquire their place on the international art arena.

Petre Petrov, Guatemala

Petre Petrov, Guatemala

Is there any particular news or information you’d like to share with our readers?

Yes I would like them to come and visit this wonderful City that is giving so much attention to art, culture and music, when the whole world is so busy with other matters and thus taking art for granted. Here art has been taken to another dimension and is becoming part of its identity. It is wonderful to see the government focusing on the cultural aspect of the country to make cultural events and artifacts more accessible to the entire community. I wish all the governments of the world paid as much attention to culture, perhaps there will be no more wars!

ADISS lecture: What is Public Art?

ADISS lecture: What is Public Art?

On 14 March 2010, there will be a public art discussion at Zayed University. Hassan Sharif from UAE, Caroline Ramersdorfer from Austria, Ehab El Laban from Egypt, Billy Lee from United Kingdom and Jon Barlow Hudson from USA will talk about the Public Art, its effect and its importance within the premises of Abu Dhabi at the scheduled lecture programme. Other ADISS events can be found here.

Zayed University - Location Map

AL

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Posted in Abu Dhabi, Events, Interviews, Sculpture, UAE, Uncategorised | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

What is Street Art? Vandalism, graffiti or public art- Part I

Posted by artradar on January 21, 2010


URBAN ART DEFINITIONS

In recent years there has been an increasing interest in an ephemeral and viral form of art that is marking urban settings around the world, and has developed a flourishing sub-culture all its own. Now though, street art is going mainstream. Auctioneers, collectors and museum directors are scrabbling to learn urban art vocabulary and develop positions on the big street art issues. In this primer post Art Radar gives you a heads up on what you need to know.

What is Street Art?

There is as yet no simple definition of street art. It is an amorphous beast encompassing art which is found in or inspired by the urban environment. With anti-capitalist and rebellious undertones, it is a democratic form of popular public art probably best understood by seeing it in situ. It is not limited to the gallery nor easily collected or possessed by those who may turn art into a trophy.

Considered by some a nuisance, for others street art is a tool for communicating views of dissent, asking difficult questions and expressing political concerns.

Its definition and uses are changing: originally a tool to mark territorial boundaries of urban youth today it is even seen in some cases as a means of  urban beautification and regeneration.

Whether it is regarded as vandalism or public art, street art has caught the interest of the art world and its lovers of beauty.

Is street art vandalism?

In an interview with the Queens Tribune, New York City’s Queens Museum of Art Executive Director Tom Finkelpearl said public art “is the best way for people to express themselves in this city.” Finkelpearl, who helps organize socially conscious art exhibitions, added, “Art gets dialogue going. That’s very good.” However, he doesn’t find  graffiti to be art, and says, “I can’t condone vandalism… It’s really upsetting to me that people would need to write their name over and over again in public space. It’s this culture of fame. I really think it’s regrettable that they think that’s the only way to become famous.”

Is street art illegal?

The legal distinction between permanent graffiti and art is permission, but the topic becomes even more complex regarding impermanent, nondestructive forms of graffiti (yarn bombing, video projection, and street installation.)

With permission, traditional painted graffiti is technically considered public art. Without permission, painters of public and private property are committing vandalism and are, by definition, criminals. However, it still stands that most street art is unsanctioned, and many artists who have painted without permission, (Banksy, Shepard Fairey)  have been glorified as legitimate and socially conscious artists.

Although it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to clearly define what unsanctioned imagery is art and what is not, the effects of such images can be observed and conclusions can be reached regarding images’ function within a public environment.

Banksy, North London

Broken Window Theory: Vandalism vs. Street Art

Vandalism is inexcusable destruction of property, and has been shown to have negative repercussions on its setting. It has also been observed by criminologists to have a ‘snowball effect’ of generating more negativity within its vicinity. Dr. James Q. Wilson and Dr. George Kelling studied the effects of disorder (in this case, a broken window) in an urban setting, and found that one instance of neglect increases the likelihood of more broken windows and graffiti will appear. Then, there is an observable increase in actual violent crime. The researchers concluded there is a direct link between vandalism, street violence, and the general decline of a society.

Their theory, named the Broken Window Theory and first published in 1982, argues that crime is the inevitable result of disorder, and that if neglect is present in a place, whether it is disrepair or thoughtless graffiti, people walking by will think no one cares about that place, and the unfavorable damage is therefore acceptable.

Street Art and Gentrification

Thoughtful and attractive street art, however, has been suggested to have regenerative effects on a neighborhood. In fact, the popular street artist Banksy, who has catapulted his guerilla street art pastime into a profitable career as an auctionable contemporary artist, has come under criticism for his art contributing to the gentrification of neighborhoods. Appropriate Media claims that:

“Banksy… sells his lazy polemics to Hollywood movie stars for big bucks… Graffiti artists are the performing spray-can monkeys for gentrification. In collusion with property developers, they paint deprived areas bright colours to indicate the latest funky inner city area ripe for regeneration. Pushing out low income families in their wake, to be replaced by middle class metrosexuals with their urban art collections.” [Times Online]

Banksy himself has received requests from residents in the neighborhoods he paints, which ask that he stop painting so they can continue to afford homes in the neighborhoods where they grew up.  A letter received by Banksy reads:

“My brother and me were born here and have lived here all our lives, but these days so many yuppies and students are moving here that neither of us can afford to buy a house where we grew up anymore. Your graffities are undoubtably part of what makes these [people] think our area is cool. You’re obviously not from around here, and after you’ve driven up the house prices you’ll just move on. Do us a favor and go do your stuff somewhere else like Brixton.”

Forms of Street Art

Traditional- Painting on the surfaces of public or private property that is visible to the public, commonly with a can of spray paint or roll-on paint. It may be comprised of just simple words (commonly the writer’s name) or be more artful and elaborate, covering a surface with a mural image.

Stencil– Painting with the use of a homemade stencil, usually a paper or cardboard cutout, to create an image that can be easily reproduced. The desired design is cut out of a selected medium, and the image is transferred to a surface through the use of spray paint or roll-on paint.


Sticker(aka sticker bombing, slap tagging, and sticker tagging) Propagates an image or message in public spaces using homemade stickers. These stickers commonly promote a political agenda, comment on a policy or issue, or comprise an avantgarde art campaign. Sticker art is considered a subcategory of postmodern art.


Mosaic- Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of smaller parts or pieces, to resemble a single giant piece of art.

Video Projection– Digitally projecting a computer-manipulated image onto a surface via a light and projection system.

Street installation- Street installations are a growing trend within the ‘street art’ movement. Whereas conventional street art and graffiti is done on surfaces or walls, ‘street installations’ use 3-D objects and space to interfere with the urban environment. Like graffiti, it is non-permission based and once the object or sculpture is installed it is left there by the artist.

Wood blocking- Artwork painted on a small portion of plywood or similar inexpensive material and attached to street signs with bolts. Often the bolts are bent at the back to prevent removal. It has become a form of graffiti used to cover a sign, poster, or any piece of advertisement that stands or hangs.

Flash mobbing- A large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse. The term flash mob is generally applied only to gatherings organized via telecommunications, social networking, and viral emails. The term is generally not applied to events organized by public relations firms or as publicity stunts. This can also be considered mass public performance art.

Yarn bombing- Yarn Bombing is a type of street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted cloth rather than paint or chalk. The practice is believed to have originated in the U.S. with Texas knitters trying to find a creative way to use their leftover and unfinished knitting projects, but has since spread worldwide. While other forms of graffiti may be expressive, decorative, territorial, socio-political commentary, advertising or vandalism, yarn bombing is almost exclusively about beautification and creativity.

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Posted in Definitions, Graffiti, Open air, Profiles, Public art, Social, Street art, Urban | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Hugs in Hong Kong by mainland artists formerly branded national criminals – interview Gao Brothers

Posted by artradar on September 3, 2009


CHINESE PERFORMANCE ART

Take a walk down a public Hong Kong street these days and you might find yourself bumping into some portable – and surprisingly intimate – art.

While Hong Kong artist Tim Li’s private bed has been erected all over Hong Kong from Pedestrian Street in Mong Kok to the center of Times Square, last month the Gao Brothers from the mainland brought their special brand of peace-promoting intimate performance art into the hustle and bustle of the city. Bring on the hugging! 

Gao Zhen and Gao Qiang, a pair of prominent artists born in Jinan and based in the Beijing 798 Art Zone were invited by Para/Site Art Space to spread an hour of love and hugs outside the Hong Kong Arts Centre on July 29 2009. The Gao Brothers share with Wendy Ma how their ideals are reflected in their installation, performance, sculpture, photography works and writing, and how these beliefs were shaped by their unusual experiences.

Q: What inspired you to create artwork such as Miss Mao, etc.? Did it create any controversy in China at the time?

Miss Mao by Gao Brothers. Painted fiberglass. 85 x 55 x 59 in.

Miss Mao by Gao Brothers. Painted fiberglass. 85 x 55 x 59 in.

Miss Mao is mainly inspired by Chinese people’s “mao” bing (毛病*), ignorance, and immaturity. The artwork is only permitted to be displayed in overseas galleries and museums, it still forbidden in mainland China.  We can only find information regarding the exhibition of this artwork on the internet. The reactions from the audience are a mix of praises and criticism.

*Note: Mao bing means “problem” or “syndrome”. In Chinese it is the same “mao” in “Mao Zedong”. 

Q: What inspired you to initiate the World Hug Day*?

Utopia of Embrace. Performance by Gao Brothers.

Utopia of Hugging for 20 minutes. Performance by Gao Brothers in 2000..

There are too many conflicts in this world. The hatred and blood-shedding tensions among humans, among ethnicities, among nations have never ceased. In 2000 we believed that the human civilization should enter a millennium of compromises. So we began to promote the act of hugging among strangers.

At that time we were forbidden to leave China, which left us unable to promote hugging overseas. By proposing the “World Hugging Day” on the internet, we earned corresponding support from various parts of the world. Among the advocates there were non-artists, artists, as well as the organizer of the Venice Biennale, Harald Szeemann.

*Note: “Gao Brothers carried out their first group hug performance, “The Utopia Of Hugging For Twenty Minutes” on September 10, 2000 by inviting one hundred and fifty volunteers, who were previously strangers to each other, to take part in the event. They asked all participants to choose a person at random for a hug of fifteen minutes duration. Afterwards, all participants huddled together for an additional five minutes.

Since 2000, Gao Brothers have hugged hundreds of strangers and organised group hugging performances with strangers at many public locations in different ways and have taken a lot of interesting photographs.

The Gao Brothers are proposing an ongoing series of World Hug Day events around the globe via the internet, and so far have got enormous feedback and support.”

Q: In your view what is the most meaningful artwork you’ve created? Why?

 

 

Point of View Chair by Gao Brothers (2007). Mixed Media.

Point of View Chair by Gao Brothers (2007). Mixed Media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In our eyes, our artworks are all different and irreplaceable. It’s difficult to decide which one carries the most meaning.

Q: How long have you been involved in art and how has your art evolved over time?

We have been working for 20 years. Regarding the transformation of our artwork, there’s a lot of articles written by art critics, but it’s hard for us to say.

Q: Were your parents supportive of your decision to pursue art as a career? Would you encourage your children (if you have any) to pursue art? Did you think you would become this successful?

My father passed away a long time ago during the Cultural Revolution. My mother was skillful at paper-cutting but she became ill and died in 1999. She gave us plenty of support for creating art. Our children are interested in art, too, so we definitely support their decision to pursue their interests. Initially we became involved in art purely from the heart and never considered whether or not we would succeed. Even now we don’t consider ourselves too successful.

Q: Any obstacles in your art career?

IMG_9799Too many unforgettable obstacles. The most memorable took place in 1989 during which we participated in the Contemporary Chinese Art Exposition in Beijing. By coincidence we took part in the “Pub Petition Incident” in which the intellectual circle demanded that the government release the political criminal Wei Jing Sheng*.

After Wei Jing Sheng was released from the prison and before his second imprisonment, we paid him a visit. As matter of a fact, we weren’t acquainted with Wei Jing Sheng. He simply wanted to invite us to participate in the China-Japan-Korea Contemporary Art Show organized by him and Huang Rui. However, due to the petition and the correspondence with Wei, we were placed on the government’s infamous black list as “national criminals”. For ten years we couldn’t obtain our visa, which had a profound impact on our participation in international art activities.

In 2001,  the organizer of the 49th Venice Biennale, Harald Szeemann invited us to the  Opening Ceremony to demonstrate our “hugging”. Unfortunately we failed to obtain a visa. We were even prepared to smuggle ourselves out but eventually we decided not to go. It wasn’t until 2003 when we were invited to attend the Second Rome International Photography Festival that we were taken off the black list and given the visa.

*Note: Wei Jing Sheng was “an activist in the Chinese democracy movement, most prominent for authoring the document Fifth Modernization on the “Democracy Wall” in Beijing in 1978.”

Q: What message do you want to convey through your art?

Liberty, peace and compromises, human love, and many more related yet ineffable messages.

Q: What are the characteristics of your artwork?

This is rather difficult for us to discuss too…

 Q: You’ve done so many “world hugging” events in various cities (which ones?). Which have made the biggest impression on you and why? What did you think of the one in Hong Kong?

 

Final round of embrace on a hot July day in Hong Kong.

Final round of embrace on a hot July day in Hong Kong.

Gao (in black) giving a participant an enthusiastic hug.

Gao (in black) giving a participant an enthusiastic hug.

Ever since 2000, we have been “hugging” in Jinan, Beijing, London, Nottingham, Marseilles, Arles, Berlin, Tokyo, and many more cities. Each “hugging” left a deep impression on us. Despite the fact that the fewest number of people showed up for “hugging” in Hong Kong, it was still memorable. The number of attendees at the hugging event carries more or less some sort of implications. Actually, we don’t really think it’s that Hong Kong doesn’t embrace hugging. It was so scorching hot that having some hugging enthusiasts was enough to move us deeply.

Q: You just went to Macau today. Was it for the “world hugging” event again? What are the differences between their attitudes and Hong Kong people’s?

Gao Brothers' demonstration of hugging outside the Hong Kong Arts Center, late-July 2009.

Gao Brothers' demonstration of hugging outside the Hong Kong Arts Center, late-July 2009.

We were invited by Para/Site to do the hugging in Hong Kong. Macau didn’t invite us. We only went as tourists and didn’t make any hugging plan.

Q: Your next stop is Israel. What do you expect?

Last year we already received the “hugging” invitation from Israel. It would be nice to have an Israeli and a Palestinian hug each other.

Q: Have there been any changes in mainland contemporary art? How is the freedom of expression? Have you encountered any difficulties or objections?

Every artist is different. We’ve always been busy with our own work, so we haven’t paid sufficient attention to other artists. With a lack of comprehensive understanding, it’s difficult to say about the changes in mainland Chinese contemporary art. To us, it’s not bad, even though the art examination regulations in China do not permit public exhibition of certain pieces of our artwork.

Q: Can you perceive any differences between Hong Kong and mainland contemporary art?

We don’t have an adequate understanding of contemporary Hong Kong art to discuss it. 

Q: Which other artists inspire you?

Are there not enough ridiculous, not enough stimulating events happening in the world every day? Why would we need to excavate inspiration from the salt of other artists?

Q: Among photography, sculptures, and performance art, which one do you prefer?

About the same. A bit bored with all of them.

Q: What would you like to do next artistically?

Film. We’re in the process of revising a script to make a film.

Spice up with Perspectives

                                     – on the Hugging Scene in Hong Kong

 

Gao (in white) hugging a participant outside the Hong Kong Arts Center in late July, 2009.

Gao (in white) hugging a participant outside the Hong Kong Arts Center in late July, 2009.

As the Gao Brothers observed, the number of  participants who turned up for the hugging event organised by Para/Site in Hong Kong  was scanty and many of those who did participate were not even from Hong Kong. So what did the organizers and the spectators think about their World Hug Performance in Hong Kong? Art Radar explores behind the scene:

Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, Curator of Para/Site Art Space:

Q: Why did you invite the Gao Brothers to do this performance (hugging)? 

I wanted to test the use of public space in Hong Kong. The Gao Brothers performance is very much connected to the Chinese physique, but also the public dimension of it is quite fundamental to this work of art. In practice, the project has proved how many burdens and restrictions exist in preparing this type of event that engages the public sphere in Hong Kong.

Q: What did you think of the performance?  

The performance has a degree of improvisation that I love. As it adapts to each new situation, it is quite fluid and dynamic, and it blends and connects with the social, cultural and political framework of the location in which it takes place. This time it was specifically connected to Hong Kong. With the greater involvement of the artists in the performance, this probably highlighted some relational issues, as it took a turn more towards the sculptural and the theatrical.

Q: How is it similar or different from other artists’ performance or exhibitions? 

Every time they stage this performance it has a different meaning and a different result. I find this work meaningful in relation to the other works, but on a superficial level it might seem unrelated to their work, specifically their sculpture, painting and photography. However the notion of the outer boundaries of the body and its political inferences are  themes that run through their art practice.

Beth Smits, an art collector and a professional in the banking sector:

I only wish more people in Hong Kong had participated in the hug day. I was watching from the side at the start, and people came up to me to ask “what is going on?” They were genuinely curious and when I explained it to them, they were very interested and supportive. Later, I did actually get involved and hugged the two artists and others there. While I admittedly felt awkward at first, I appreciate the powerful symbolism of this act amongst strangers. I am now a huge fan of their work – beyond the world hug days, too, and look forward to seeing what they do next.

Contributed by Wendy Ma

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

Posted by artradar on August 19, 2009


HONG KONG ART

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

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

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

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

Pigment Ink on canvas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Do you have a favorite city or place? 

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

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

Q: What does the bed symbolize?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about the Artist behind the Folding Bed

IMG_2637

Tim Li before his artwork. Photography by Erin Wooters.

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

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

Q: Are you from Hong Kong?

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

Q: How does that affect your art?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: When did you know you were an artist?

I don’t even think about it.

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

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

Q: Which art publications do you read/recommend?

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

Q: Tell us about your book?

It incorporates articles about the folding bed idea.

Q: Which is your favourite art museum in Asia?

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

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

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

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

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

Contributed by Wendy Ma

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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 »

Property companies splurge on art in Hong Kong, recent trend

Posted by artradar on June 4, 2009


ART SPONSORSHIP HONG KONG

At the end of last year Time Out noticed a new trend in Hong Kong,

one with its own strange momentum. Property companies appeared to be competing with one another to sponsor the arts.

Zhang Yu, A One and a Two

Zhang Yu, A One and a Two

When the Olympics surged into town in August 2008, the Sun Hung Kai Charitable Fund revealed their City Art Square in Sha Tin, a 190,000 square foot area developed in association with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), featuring 19 public art works by international and local artists (from Zaha Hadid to Freeman Lau). The project won a prestigious Cityscape Architectural Award, and brought a welcome dose of innovation to the New Territories.

There were also exhibitions in Causeway Bay as Wharf, owners of Times Square, launched a series of high profile exhibitions in the development’s public space.

Meanwhile, the Sino Group continued with their award-winning Art in Hong Kong campaign, sponsoring art projects and holding exhibitions in their properties.

Joaquin Gasgonia Palencia, Red Horse

Joaquin Gasgonia Palencia, Red Horse

Even The Link launched the Artsmart fair in Stanley.

But in December, Swire Properties dropped their arts bombshell.

Following their consistent support of the arts since the 1970s, they opened ArtisTree, an astonishing 20,000 square foot space in Taikoo Place dedicated to visual and performing arts.

The opening exhibition (showing until the end of January) was Dame Vivienne Westwood’s retrospective exhibition ‘A Life in Fashion’, organised in conjunction with London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Just to rub it in the face of the LCSD, the Museum of Art had turned down the chance to hold the same exhibition several years ago.

Essentially, here was a property company doing the work of an art museum.

And looking forward in 2009

one of the most unusual property-art events of the year will occur in autumn when an ‘Art Mall’ will open in the new K11 development in Tsim Sha Tsui. The project is a partnership between New World Development and the the Urban Renewal Authority.

“K11 is probably the first art mall in the world, combining an art gallery with a shopping mall,” explains Adrian Cheng, Executive Director of New World Development. The art loving 28 year old and driving force behind the project promises to showcase artworks by local and international artists throughout the mall.

“TST has the Cultural Centre and Museum of Art, and K11 is the main force to integrate the art and cultural elements of TST, so that the district becomes the ultimate cultural district in Hong Kong, like Tribeca or Soho [in New York],” adds the young developer. “Giving local artists the resources and platform to display their masterpieces is the main vision for K11 to promote local art.”

There is a tradition of arts sponsorship by Hong Kong property companies pioneered by Hong Kong Land,  but now there is a new ‘splurge’ which brings with it some risks. Read more at Time Out

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Anish Kapoor plans largest public artwork in the world in north of England

Posted by artradar on July 31, 2008


 

 

 

 

 

INDIAN MONUMENTAL SCULPTURE PROJECT UK

It began with a pair of tights and two rings. It will become the world’s largest public art project: five huge sculptures dotted around a region attempting to rejuvenate itself.
The Tees Valley Giants, unveiled today, are the work of Turner prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor and one of the world’s leading structural engineers, Cecil Balmond. The pieces will be placed, over the next ten years, in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar, Hartlepool and Darlington.

The project, more than four years in the planning, was announced today with artist’s impressions of the first work, Temenos. The sculpture will fill what is currently a rather bleak landscape between Middlesbrough’s Transporter bridge and the Riverside stadium and, appropriately, at 110m will be as long as a football pitch. The 50m-high steel structure consists of a pole, a circular ring and an oval ring, all held together by a kind of cat’s cradle of steel wire.
Balmond knows how he wants people to react when they see it. “It will be a kind of awe, I think. It will be a new landscape.”

That said, the design will remind some of Marsyas, the Kapoor-Balmond work that filled Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall six years ago and is now – “sadly,” they say – rolled up and stored in a box in Norfolk.

The artist was brought on board in 2004 and says he was bowled over by how grand the thinking was. He told the Guardian: “This is without doubt the biggest art project in the world, in terms of ambition and scale – everything. It’s massive.”

Kapoor and Balmond said they worked together because of a shared interest in interrogating form.

“In many ways scale is a deep, mysterious and wonderful thing, and yet at some levels it gets a bad name. To reinvigorate and re-initiate scale is one of the things we’re about,” said Kapoor.

“There are all the arguments about public art – couldn’t we have spent money on a hospital, say – and all the arguments are correct. But what happens after a while is that these things have the possibility of infiltrating people’s consciousness. You can’t say it’s going to happen, but you can hope it does.”

Temenos will cost around £2.7m, while the whole project will involve a spend of some £15m.

Funding is coming from both public and private sources as well as a welcome meeting of football and conceptual art: Middlesbrough FC will stump up about £350,000. Subject to planning permission, work is due to start in the autumn and be completed by next summer.

The whole project was the idea of Joe Docherty, chief executive of Tees Valley Regeneration. He said it was a declaration that the area had changed, that it was prepared to take risks. “This isn’t something we need in the Tees valley. It’s something we deserve. This is a calling card that the area is on the turn.”

The Tees Valley Giants were announced on the same day that another monumental piece of public art, Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North, celebrated its tenth birthday; it is now one of the most recognised artworks in the UK.

Source: guardian.co.uk Full article here

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