Friday, December 28, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
OK, of course, this isn't Warhol's factory. This is the art factory of one of the most capitalistic places on Earth: China, in particular, Shenzhen.
Posted by Susan at 2:30 AM
Friday, December 21, 2007
One thing I enjoy about the end of the year is the year end wrap up. The recent issue of Artforum which is as thick as a September Vogue does a great overview.
Posted by Susan at 12:25 AM
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Oscar Niemeyer recently turned 100 and he's still going strong with lots of ideas and projects that he's working on. This shows how creative activity will keep a person young and hopefully can inspire all of us to live life fully.
Read more at the above link about this famous architect who created Brasilia. The photo is from that site and shows Brasilia's National Museum and its space-age like ramp.
Posted by Susan at 2:22 AM
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I recently bought this issue of ART iT, a bilingual Japanese/English art magazine based in Tokyo. Publisher Ozaki Tetsuya is celebrating the mag's fourth anniversary.
Posted by Susan at 11:55 PM
Posted by Susan at 12:40 AM
Friday, December 14, 2007
Oops! We're fake.
Posted by Susan at 4:28 PM
The Taipei Fine Arts Museum is currently showing Desire and Consumption: Kaiyodo and Otaku Culture, which is mainly plastic anime and manga figurines of busty maids and transforming robots.
Posted by Susan at 1:53 AM
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Okay, many blogs/news stories covered this. Mark Wallinger won the Turner Prize 2007 for his exacting replica of the anti-Iraq war protest staged by Brian Haw in Parliament Square from 2001 to 2006.
The work was hailed for its "immediacy, visceral intensity and historic importance."
I'm a firm believer that art can be used for social change and bring noteworthy issues to the public's attention. But here I'm a bit cynical. Does awarding this work create change in policy to ending the sanctions and war in Iraq or is this just a superficial feel-good work to say, yes, I'm liberal because I agree with the artist's sentiment? In other words, does this work come alive and change lives?Details of the award here:
This work makes me more curious about Brian Haw.
Posted by Susan at 1:13 AM
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
It is with this problematic tension and the seemingly irresolvable solution that I would have liked to see this issue addressed directly within the next Taipei Biennial scheduled for September 2008. Not only that. We all know that lately the artworld is spending lots of time/money in Beijing and Shanghai.
Instead of the tired model of a Euro/American curator being picked first and then choosing a Taiwanese one for the biennial, wouldn’t it have been much more exciting if the Taipei Biennial 2008 curators could be Fei Dawei and Victoria Lu?
Paris-based critic/curator Fei Dawei was recently named artistic director at the newly opened Ullens Art Center in Beijing. Victoria Lu, who curated exhibitions in Taiwan, was director at MOCA Shanghai and wrote extensively with a feminist slant about women artists in Taiwan.
I think this combination would give us a new perspective about contemporary art especially coming from two experienced curators with firsthand knowledge from this Chinese part of the world.
Posted by Susan at 12:05 AM
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Posted by Susan at 12:10 AM
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Posted by Susan at 12:29 AM
Monday, December 3, 2007
Posted by Susan at 11:47 PM
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Posted by Susan at 12:30 AM
Friday, November 30, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
When I’m not art critiquing, I’m writing TOEFL tests. Recently I wrote about the lack of gender equity in the STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. However, once consciousness was raised and intervention programs occurred, the scores and interests of both boys and girls vastly improved.
And so it is for the arts. Without a Guerrilla Girl-type consciousness, the art world is still having women underrepresented in gallery and museum exhibitions and under-reviewed in print media. See http://anaba.blogspot.com/ for a similar discussion.
Unfortunately, this is not an issue that was resolved in the 20th century, but still ongoing. As artists, critics, curators, art consumers, etc., we need to be aware of this disparity and work on improving the gap as it will just make life better for everyone.
Posted by Susan at 3:39 PM
Monday, November 26, 2007
Cai Guo-Qiang's fireworks extravaganza at the APEC meeting, Shanghai, 2001. Photo courtesy http://www.caiguoqiang.com/
According to Bloomberg.com, Hong Kong Christie's brought in $US 108.3 million on the first day of a five-day sale.
Cai Guo-Qiang's work, a set of dynamite drawings commissioned for APEC sold for HK$74.2 million.
Christie's recent sales show that Chinese art is hotter than Western art.
Of course, as an art audience we shouldn't be seduced by dizzying prices, but try and understand the value of art, and I don't just mean the market value.
Posted by Susan at 11:50 PM
Sunday, November 25, 2007
In 1985 to conceive of Beijing as a center for contemporary art would have been a fanciful and preposterous idea. How much the world changes in such a short time-frame.
An ambitious art space opened earlier this month. The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) founded by the Belgian baron and baroness Guy and Myriam Ullens is in a huge factory building, Bauhaus style in the popular 798 art zone.
This is the only non-profit privately funded art organization in China. Architects Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Ma Qingyun renovated the 8,000 square meters with 31 foot-high ceilings. Famed curator and critic Fei Dawei is the newly appointed artistic director.
The inaugural exhibition '85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art focuses on the time period where it was extremely difficult for artists to make avant-garde works and which prompted an exodus of artists to the west such as Huang Yong-ping to Paris and Xu Bing to New York.
Posted by Susan at 10:11 PM
Thursday, November 22, 2007
The exhibition is slated for September 2008 so it can hook up with the other biennials that take place in Asia during that time period.
Vasif Kortun served as director of the Istanbul Biennial in 1992 and 2005 and was curator of the Turkish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1998.
Manray Hsu was the 2000 Taipei Biennial co-curator. At that time, despite numerous entreaties from the museum, his curatorial essay never materialized, so the 2000 Taipei Biennial catalog was published along with the 2002 Taipei Biennial catalog. Hey, he’s got a second chance. Will Manray Hsu write a curatorial essay this time around?
Here he claims to have a PhD from Columbia University:
But strangely enough, his published dissertation never shows up in database searches.
Posted by Susan at 4:13 PM
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The way artworks are installed in the cavernous lobby of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum for its biennials acts as a barometer for the social and cultural climate in Taiwan. One only needs to examine the lobby installations of subsequent installments of each biennial to get a true picture of Taipei’s social, economic, and artistic climate.
In 1998, for the first biennial, titled Site of Desire and curated by Fumio Nanjo, Dean E-Mei’s beaded Taiwan dollar curtain was suspended from the bank of escalators. Korean artist Choi Jeonghwa’s obese inflatable golden goddess statue, whose wings flapped, added to an atmosphere of excess that was akin to walking into a capitalistic arcade where the unabashed pursuit of money, market, and riches was waved in everyone’s faces. This paralleled the hope and excitement that Taipei residents felt at the time. There was a new mayor, and promises of riches seemed to be within grasp. The sense of opulence and optimism, with a bit of chaos thrown in, created a lively biennial. Cai Guo-Qiang’s bamboo structure of advertisements enveloping the outside and moving inside of the museum, combined with Hou Chun-ming’s erotic woodblock prints, created a mini scandal in the press, while Cai’s missile-shooting performance hinted at a promising future.
The 2000 biennial, The Sky is the Limit, curated by Jérôme Sans and Manray Hsu, created a more welcoming lobby. The entire floor was covered with Michael Lin’s pink-hued floral painting, while huge balloons of Jun’ya Yamada’s participatory calligraphic strips floated overhead. The dynamic conversation between these works created what seemed like a cozy space rather than a stuffy institution, encouraging visitors to forget politics and the economy and to just enjoy life.
In 2002, with the Great Theatre of the World, curators Bartomeu Marí and Jason Chia-chi Wang exhibited Rita McBride’s Arena, a large grandstand that transformed the lobby into a theatre space so that audience members became both performer and spectator, thus making the lobby an open forum for discussion.
Barbara Vanderlinden and Amy Huei-hwa Cheng’s 2004 Do You Believe in Reality?
combined Chang Yong-ho’s voyeuristic viewing platforms, providing a kind of privacy that was similar to placing a peep show in a big public area. With Kuo I-chen’s shadow of a real plane flying overhead, they created a lobby filled with marvel that made one want to look up in the air. The juxtapositions of works and viewing areas created a sense of shifting perspectives between reality and illusion.
For 2006, Dirty Yoga curated by Dan Cameron and Wang Jun-jieh, the placement in the lobby of solitary dark objects that did not interact with each other, that seemed solipsistic and bleak with little communication taking place among them, coincided with the Biennial’s own snubbing of the September convergence of other Asian biennials.
Posted by Susan at 5:49 PM
Monday, November 19, 2007
Posted by Susan at 11:00 PM
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Then there's the (C) Murakami retro currently at LA MOCA with its Louis Vuitton shop and high commerce marketing tie-ins.
Art at the high end of the market functions a lot like the famed Hello Kitty image.
Hello Kitty does not have a mouth, so her face does not show emotion. It gains strength and resonance by viewers who read their own psychological readings into it. The Hello Kitty image is like a mirror and reflects the viewer's own empty wishes and desires back.
Don't you think Koon's Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold), for example, operates in a similar vein? It is fairly vapid in meaning and seems to reflect back its ostentatious feelings of wealth to the viewer (potential owner), kind of giving a metaphorical pat on the fat cat's back "greed is good; wealth is good. Don't think too much."
Writer Andrew Berardini writes on his blog (uber.com/andrew) about not being swayed by the art market and for the need for holding art to the same standards of literature:
"When market decides quality, and curators get in bed on this to satisfy trusties something wicked this way walks. These definitions can be based, somewhat, on the same definitions as literature. Art that is made for a high-end market with little actual significance and of substantially lower intellectual quality or complexity are the pulp. Complex art works of rich intellectual quality are the literature."
Posted by Susan at 5:31 PM
Thursday, November 15, 2007
For more details, check the Kaohsiung Harbor Public Art Project official website on http://khharborpa.com.tw/ The site says that this is the first time to have a public art project for harbors in Taiwan and that competition between Asian harbors is "ferocious." Hmm, does Taiwan need its very own Merlion?
Posted by Susan at 11:42 PM
In spite of the high visibility of Murakami's imagery, it was still hard to find good downloadable images. This one comes from the Saatchi Gallery site.
Posted by Susan at 12:51 AM
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Somedays, the arts pages resemble the sports pages in terms of misdeeds. The Nov/Dec issue of Art AsiaPacific has good coverage on the recent art scandal that rocked Seoul, Korea.
It turns out that Shin Jeong-Ah, the chief curator at Sungkok Art Museum lied about having a PhD from Yale. And her BFA and MBA degrees from the University of Kansas turned out to be fraudulent too.
When this came to light, Shin's curator position and her appointment as artistic co-director to the 2008 Gwangju Biennale were revoked.
In this day of computerized databases and internet search engines, why would anyone be so brazen to fake credentials?
Posted by Susan at 11:34 PM
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Here are photos from my latest interactive project titled Love/Hate that was exhibited at Taipei MOCA's Fashion Accidentally exhibition in May 2007. Boxing gloves and knitted tubes worn together were designed to help to improve the relationship between two people.
Opening Night: The knitted items and photos are on display, while an impromptu boxing performance takes place.
Posted by Susan at 11:35 PM
Sublime cultural moments happen when the time, place and art meet in perfect harmony.
Artist Paul Chan worked with Creative Time to bring the Classical Theatre of Harlem to stage Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in the ninth ward of New Orleans.
The ninth ward was the heaviest hit in the devastating 2005 Hurricane Katrina and people are still desperately waiting for help to get back to their homes.
Dan Cameron vividly describes the experience of the event: http://artforum.com/diary/#entry18895
Creative Time’s site: http://creativetime.org/programs/archive/2007/chan/welcome.html. Photo courtesy of Creative Time.
Posted by Susan at 1:47 AM
Friday, November 9, 2007
This is titled “Landslide.” I was thinking of Monty Python’s “run away, run away” and thought of “roll away, roll away” during a landslide or a speeding truck on the highway.
Also at that time in Taiwan, stores didn’t sell disposable sponge paint rollers, so if you wanted to replace a roller, you always had to buy a new one with a metal handle. I had many paint rollers around my house as a result.
Posted by Susan at 11:30 PM
The Singapore group Kill Your Television performed Design for Death in 2004. Here is an image of Rizman Putra performing, courtesy of http://www.killyourtelevision.info/ .
This small image is courtesy of IT Park, the famed alternative art space in Taipei, here exhibiting Tsong Pu's installation of tape measures and snoring beds, to symbolize the aging body.
Posted by Susan at 12:31 AM
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
This wonderful image is from http://www.pyuupiru.com/ . Pyuupiru is one of the artists who agreed to be in my exhibition titled "Interventions and Inspirations" that unfortunately had to be cancelled due to lack of funding.
The artists all agreed, but then no funding, hence a cancelled/postponed exhibition. Too bad! I wanted to show that exciting art is being created in Asia. If anyone is interested to sponsor this exhibition, please contact me via comment.
Here's my curatorial statement:
“Interventions and Inspirations” is an exhibition of conceptual art by artists based in China, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Taiwan and include works that stir up society with works that are pure poetry.
Artists: Singapore: Kill Your Television, a multimedia performance group who blurs the boundaries between media and art. China: Peng Yu and Sun Yuan provocatively relate to society. Korea: Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries, Flash animations of word jazz poems in several languages. Japan: Pyuupiru combines obsession with costume making. Taiwan: Tsong Pu is a visual poet while Wu Mali uses an art vocabulary wielding it like a social activist’s megaphone to rally the masses.
What separates us from other species is the possession of two powerful cognitive tools: the capability to intervene and the capacity to imagine. The world’s history is dynamically shaped both positively and negatively by interventions and inspirations.
The practice of agriculture can be seen as an early and broad-sweeping intervention that dramatically changed the course of society. Then there are those solo acts by courageous individuals who did not follow conventional thought, but followed their own inner voices. Individuals such as Rosa Parks sparked a movement, the Civil Rights Movement in the USA, just by her intervention of sitting on a restricted bus seat.
An intervention is an interference that changes a situation. Euphemistically a military intervention is an invasion, while a family intervention involves a group of people stopping their loved one from his chemical dependency. An art intervention challenges the status quo and shakes up commonplace thinking, while also simultaneously inspiring viewers to effect change in their own lives.
Inspiration allows one to dream and to reach for the stars. Advancements in science, medicine, arts and society all started off with a dream. Without being able to dream, one will not want to get out of bed in the morning. The capability to dream and to feel inspired is what makes us look forward to tomorrow.
By juxtaposing these two cognitive tools in an art exhibition, “Interventions and Inspirations” seeks to encompass the wide-range of thought in conceptual art that is currently happening in Asia and brings together 8-10 compelling artists and 4 provocative writers for an exhibition that will long be remembered.
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Posted by Susan at 11:54 PM
Here, in “Wonderful: The Holy Ridge under the Milk-way” (photo courtesy of the artist) a figuratively-shaped mountain that is formed by intensely worked black ink scribbles show the erratic, quick hand movements by the artist.
Posted by Susan at 12:27 AM
Monday, November 5, 2007
Now that curators are getting top billing that is equal to artists, isn't it about time to start publishing their birthdates along with the obligatory artists' birthdates?
Why is it only artists whose birthdates get published in catalogs and press releases?
What is the reasoning behind that? That a young person is a natural genius and an older person has lived experience. With that reasoning, why aren't the birthdates of curators, critics, directors, etc. published in promotional materials?
Posted by Susan at 2:05 AM
Saturday, November 3, 2007
What’s black and white and ‘read’ all over? A newspaper. Get it?
English language newspapers, at one time, published the best in arts criticism: dance, classical music, fine arts, architecture and drama. But those days are long gone.
Terry Teachout writes about how valuable newspaper criticism was in the 20th century: “… a considerable number of the most significant collections of criticism published in the 20th century, including Virgil Thomson’s The Musical Scene (1945), Edwin Denby’s Looking at the Dance (1949), Kenneth Tynan’s Curtains (1961), and Hilton Kramer’s The Age of the Avant-Garde (1973) consisted in large part of newspaper reviews.” http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm?id=10980
Are English language readers no longer interested in the arts or reading cerebral criticism? What happened? Is celebrity gossip taking over our brains?
Posted by Susan at 12:24 AM
Friday, November 2, 2007
As the populations of industrialized nations get older (i.e. the world’s baby boomers), aging is a hot topic these days. Computer scientist turned bio-geneticist Aubrey de Gray proposes an incredible thesis that if the muck can be cleaned out of our cells (the mitochondrial DNA), then we can live to be 1000 years old, that’s an extra 900 years or so. He believes we have the capability of finding a cure for aging. Imagine.
Traditionally artists staved off aging by having sought immortality through their artworks. There are notable artists who dealt directly and honestly with aging in their work: Picasso who tried holding onto his potency, Gilbert & George in elderly bodies but with still young lust at heart and John Coplans who is known for graphic black and white photo closeups of his aging body. The Tang Dynasty poet/painters musing about life in their old age. Female artists, hmm? Society doesn’t actually encourage the menopausal “crone” to express herself, so not many women seem to make art about their aging bodies – even an artist such as Louise Bourgeois: in her 90s and she’s still stuck on her childhood. Only Hannah Wilke comes to mind, but she was also focusing on the transitory states of sickness and health.
In this day, where grants, residencies and gallery programs focus on the emerging and the young artist, it is visionary to see the artists who tackle these universal ideas of aging. Especially, now that we are living longer, it is puzzling why there is not much more art about aging. Culturally, this is developed society’s major taboo. Aging equals impending death, and no one really wants to be reminded of such a mortal truth.
Posted by Susan at 2:03 AM
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I live in Taiwan, a place that considers itself a country, and yes, I can vouch, by personal experience, it does function as an independent country as it has its own currency, banks, elected officials, laws. I pay my taxes, have health insurance, residency, and have public education available, etc. Now many other countries do not consider Taiwan as an independent country, but rather a “renegade province of China.”
So this got me to thinking about statehood and what constitutes a country. Artists have been questioning this idea for decades. An early example is Ono-Lennon’s Nutopia. Then there is Ladonia by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, AVL Ville by Atelier van Lieshout and Peter Coffin’s display of micronations which summed up the current situation of autonomous states at the Palais de Tokyo last March. Check http://mnn.mncentre.net for a current list of micronations; the list seems to be expanding. (I want to secede from my current state … of mind).
And check out www.culture.tw , a website sponsored by Taiwan’s Council of Culture Affairs. I write an Opinion column for it. You’ll see that there’s a lotta kulchur comin’ out of this (non) country.
What do you think?
Posted by Susan at 10:20 PM
Art biennials seem to be everywhere these days as they are becoming deeply rooted in the global art arena. Before this phenomenon began, however, there were just three key biennials: Venice (founded 1895), Sao Paulo (1951) and Istanbul (1973).
This year’s Istanbul Biennial that ends November 4, 2007 is organized by the internationally acclaimed curator Hou Hanru, who is the current Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the San Francisco Art Institute.
In this dismal age of Bush, war is on everyone’s minds. Hou’s timely theme for the biennial is: Not only possible, but also necessary: Optimism in the Age of Global War which takes a look at how globalization is changing modernity and features artists who work in developing areas of the world.
The selection of artists show that creative types no longer need to live in Western art centers like New York or Paris, as truly exciting and provocative art is being made in many parts of the world.
Artists include: Kutluğ Ataman, Atom Egoyan, Cao Fei, Renée Green, Huang Yong Ping, Rem Koolhaas / AMO, Raqs Media Collective and Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries. Check out the latter’s cool website for their Flash text animations set to evocative jazz tracks: http://www.yhchang.com/
Taiwanese artist Peng Hung-Chih is exhibiting his videos (see photo): 10 Commandments and Islamic Exegesis which features his dog licking an empty wall to reveal religious texts that are violent in message, thus showing both religions’ shared violence and misogyny. As the dog licks the blank white wall, dark-colored words suddenly materialize. In his videos, Peng looks at the complicated world of society, religion and politics from a dog’s perspective. As we know, dog spelled backwards is god.
For further info: the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts www.iksv.org.
Posted by Susan at 12:30 AM
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Is it just me? Or is it totally obnoxious to have a top 100 list of the movers and shakers in the artworld that is predominately filled with white men. I felt soiled after reading the ArtReview’s Power 100. I felt like mukamuka (Japanese word for feeling so angry you want to puke).
In these post-colonial, post-Saidean days, how can there be such a Anglo-testosterone-laden list? Only one person of African descent and a meager 27 percent of women were included. It boggles the mind. But then I live in Asia, so I don’t have the narrow mind-frame of such blatant western (and sexist) arrogance. (Thank God!)
What do you think?
Here's the link to London's ArtReview Power 100:
Posted by Susan at 10:28 PM
Last year I interviewed Gordon Tsai, a real estate developer in Taipei’s suburbs who claims he wants to be Taiwan's Medici, for Art AsiaPacific issue 52.
Gordon has 4 acres of land set up as the Dream Community which includes a bakery whose loaves are filled with the goat’s milk from the goats he raises, a restaurant whose dishes are inspired by the ethnicity of its multiethnic staff, and the ongoing construction of a residential building. His pet project is his annual papier-mâché floats/Samba parade.
He’s pictured here from last year’s parade all diapered up. He’s keen to give back to his community and spends wads of his own money to sponsor international celebration artists to come and create floats and teach stilt-walking to the local school children. Inspired by Seattle’s Fremont Solstice and Nevada’s Burning Man festivals, he longingly craves to create the biggest parade in Asia, something along the scale of Rio’s Carnivale.
He was adamant during our interview that he didn’t want any political influence, that his interest is solely in the arts and that he thinks art can help change society. But this year’s parade on October 20 was not in the suburbs like usual, but on Jenai Road, in Taipei, just blocks away from the Presidential Office. Hmm, do I smell political aspirations?
Posted by Susan at 1:22 AM
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Art and law really seem like oil and vinegar; they don’t mix well. Many of us think art is for nourishing our spirits, while law functions in the domain of unpleasant necessities, so it is strikingly newsworthy when art and law confront each other as in the malicious case of the artist: Christoph Büchel vs. the institution: MassMOCA.
Click here for a recent photo essay: http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2007/10/21/dismantled/
I experienced Büchel’s meaty installation Shelter II at the O.K.Centrum in Linz, Austria (their photo) in the summer of 2002 . One first had to enter a sausage stand on the sidewalk and climb into the building, passing through rooms literally and figuratively frozen in entropy. Feeling like a disembodied Alice in a dysfunctional wonderland, I was so moved by how Büchel could convey anxiety to me, the viewer, that I quickly wrote an essay about this work and sent it to him.
The moral of the story is that the relationship between an artist and an institution is a lot like a marriage: some work out well, while others really require a pre-nup agreement.
Posted by Susan at 12:40 AM