First in Asia, M+ Museum and Architecture Collection Previews in Hong Kong’s ArtisTree

Originally published on 16.Jan.2014 via INDESIGNLIVE HONG KONG

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Above, Herzog & de Meuron’s winning M+ Building Competition.

The M+ Museum, the main cultural anchor of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), is slated to open in 2017. However, prior to its launch, the museum and its curatorial teams have been busy spending the last several months giving form to its vision as a “museum of visual culture” via a continuous effort on the building of its works – local, regional, and global. Prior to the unveiling of the museum’s Architecture Collection at ArtisTree last week, the museum so far has had a jump start with the news of its Sigg Collection thanks to a sizeable donation of over 1,500 pieces by Swiss collector, Uli Sigg, the world’s largest universally recognised private collector of Chinese contemporary art from the 1970’s to present.

Below, Utopic constructs by Urbanus, Steven Holl, and MAD Architects.

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Excluding the Sigg Collection, M+ has since recently acquired around 800 works to date, of which 80 per cent are by local artists and designers. A percentage of this is of course the Architecture collection, the first and only one of its kind in Asia, consisting of models and drawings of realised and unrealised architectural and urban projects as it relates to Hong Kong and China, including all shortlisted entries to the actual design of M+ itself. The show, part of the museum’s “Mobile M+” series of exhibitions allow Hong Kong’s citizens to engage with the museum’s curated programmes in the people’s turf (site specific shows all over town), and is certainly more than a peek of things to come. This allows curator, Aric Chen, and Assistant Curator, Shirley Surya, to present their vision of what it means to house a permanent collection of Architecture as it relates to visual culture and the Hong Kong context.

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Above, M+ Building Design entries by Shigeru Ban and Renzo Piano, respectively.

As of now, the vision for the exhibition – excluding the M+ competition collection – is posited via five lenses: Place Making (Architecture within locality), Crossed Transfers (Architectural form studies beyond cultural borders), Urban Laboratory (manifested urban strategies as it relates to Hong Kong), Critical Futures (grand Utopic ideals), and Digital Reality (conceptualisation of space via Computer-aided Design). I’m pretty sure the narratives will continue to evolve even beyond the Museum’s actual opening, as new issues and frameworks present themselves from now until then. However as it is presented at this moment, the chapters work well at indexing a varied collection, defined by multiple mediums.

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Above, brick work by Jiakun Architects.

Scale models of stand-alone buildings from designers Ai Wei Wei, Steven Holl, and William Lim of CL3 are placed adjacent to full sized brick works via Jiakun Architects’ “Rebirth Brick” project for the survivors of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Original courtyard drawings by modernist master Ludwig Mies van der Rohe are exhibited adjacent to studies of courtyards by Jackson Wong Chack Sang, who founded Wong & Ouyang. Of course models of completed typical Hong Kong residential towers by Rocco Design Architects and unbuilt dream towers by MAD are expected of architecture shows, but it’s the critical studies by the likes of artists such as MAP Office, anothermountainman, and Cao Fei, that really give us a full picture of the affect of Hong Kong and China’s building culture.

Below, Photographs by anothermountainman.

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MAD Office’s Laurent Gutierrez and Valerie Portefaix question the grim practice of luxury tower design as subservient to the developer’s marketing message, usually as muddled euro-centric desires of the nouveau riche. Anothermountainman’s large-scale photographic prints reframe China and Taiwan’s uncompleted development dreams. Perhaps the best work that spoke to me in the whole collection is the one by artist Cao Fei, titled “The Birth of RMB City (2007)”, a video simulation of a virtual city comprising an amalgamation of architectures from China, Macau, and Hong Kong, built and destroyed within the online world of Second Life. I call it a critique of a building frenzy led by money; others would define it as an introspective work of the built environment.

Below, Cao Fei’s “RMB CIty” Video Installation and works by MAP Office.

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According to curator Aric Chen, “collecting architecture requires both humility and judgment… (with) a constant awareness that what and how a museum collects can have an impact on architectural practice itself.” The impact of such a collection to the building industry will only be clear several years from now, however with so much being torn down and built in China and Hong Kong these days, a building archive such as this one is necessary if only to define an architectural identity before it disappears completely to yet another one of the region’s bullet speed urban redevelopment projects.

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VISIT Mobile M+: The Museum and Architecture Collection will be held from 10 Jan – 9 Feb 2014. Opens daily from 10am – 8pm. ArtisTree, 1F Cornwall House, Taikoo Place, Island East, Hong Kong.

JJ.

Seen&Scene: Ai WeiWei Frames Hong Kong Artists; Artists Respond In Kind

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This evening, friends, supporters, and media, were invited to Duddell’s 4th Floor to preview Chinese artist, Ai WeiWei’s first curated exhibition in Hong Kong titled, Framed. What is in fact being framed, is literally the work of 13 of Hong Kong’s finest art practitioners, hand selected by Ai WeiWei himself; Nadim Abbas, Kitty Chou, Ho Sin Tung, Frog King, Kum Chi-Keung, Kwan Sheung Chi, Michael Lau, Kingsley Ng, MAP Office, Tozer Pak Sheung Chuen, Angela Su, Tsang Kin Wah, and Stanley Wong anothermountainman. 

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Before the opening party, a private gathering was hosted by Duddell’s founder, Alan Lo and M+’s Executive Director, Lars Nittve, for an intimate panel discussion with some of the artists in the group show, plus a special welcome video of WeiWei himself introducing the exhibition.

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The 45 minute long discussion was focused primarily on the idea of “Framing” and being “Framed”. Some of the artists, like Tozer Pak Sheung Chuen, yearned to work outside the frame conceptually and physically imposed by WeiWei (a wooden frame uniform about 65 x 65 cm, square). Other artists welcomed the possibility of the frame’s unifying factor, like Kitty Chou’s work. MAP Office took the idea of the Frame as an opportunity to focus on the curator, WeiWei, stating that the artists are not the focus of the show, but WeiWei himself because essentially the works are a reaction to the curator’s theme. MAP Office’s response reflects on the different facets of Ai WeiWei, a man, an island, trapped “within his own kingdom, and defined by his own territory in China”. Ho Sin Tung’s portrait of Ai WeiWei, titled Alien 2013 (seen at the top of the post),  framed a portrait of the curator within the imposed timber frame as his response.

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Frog King’s Frog Fun 2013 piece which hangs proudly on the feature stair’s main landing, is all “balls-out”, literally, and proposes play in reference to his 20-plus year relationship with Ai WeiWei. 

Work by Tsang Kin Wah, MomFDadFDaughterFTeacherFJesusF MaryFBillFMonicaFPoliticianFPastorFKidFMomFTeen… 2007.

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While it is true that Duddell’s is not your typical gallery exhibition space, it is a bar/restaurant/members-club, with atraditional spaces for exhibiting works of art. It is in this context of which Ai WeiWei was intrigued, and uses the idea of the frame as a way to bring focus to Duddell’s position, not only its contribution to Hong Kong’s maturing cultural landscape, but also in the way this newly minted venue can bridge Hong Kong artist to a more global contemporary audience.

In the foreword for the exhibition’s book, Ai WeiWei states: 

When these artists have chosen to work with me at their own will, changes have already occurred, and change is what culture has longed for and worked towards… With the political conditions and social developments today (categorizing cultural activity by regions) are no longer applicable in the age of digital communication and globalization. A good exhibition or a good artist may come from any social background, or we can say that backgrounds are no longer relevant. This is a remarkable feat; I wish that all artists residing in Hong Kong will be blessed by this era.

In the paragraph before, Ai Weiwei stresses; that “Framed” as a theme hints at the “absurdity of our conditions.” And that continually expressing Hong Kong’s history, and links to its colonial past whether politics or art or both, is an “inevitable fable” and maybe a complete “rejection” of any “adaptation” that is taking place right now today. 

Work by Nadim Abbas, The Trial of Lady Chatterley 2013.

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Work by Michael Lau, Chrazymichael 2010.

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Work by Kum Chi-Keung, Hand 2006.

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Duddell’s seemingly takes pride in being a truly Hong Kong product, from the perspective of Hong Kong as a city of the world. Members of Duddell’s may identify with the idea that being a true Hong Konger also means being a global citizen, and that they’re one and the same. Whether that’s a position Hong Kong’s artists are ready to take on board after this show, depends on them. It’s interesting to note that it takes a curator of Ai Weiwei’s stature to have to coax such an idea of “globalness” to Hong Kong’s own cloistered art community… and he’s doing all this from the confines of his compound thousands of miles away… as an alien and outsider looking in.

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VISIT Framed. Ai Weiwei and Hong Kong Artists . 5 NOV 2013 - 15 FEB 2013 . Duddell’s, Level 3, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong . T: +852-25259191

JJ.

Urban Reveries; My Top 5 Favorite Works at This Year’s AAA Fundraiser

Non-profit Art organization, Asia Art Archives (AAA) ultimate aim is to raise $6.5Million US for their endowment in order to continue their core work in Hong Kong, which is to archive and accumulate works, stories, and idedas as it relates to Asia’s contemporary art in the new millennium.

85% of their archive is donated material, and whether it be online or their physical space in Sheung Wan, all materials are free and open to the public to access. Starting today you too can support AAA as well as own a piece of work by any one of Asia’s hottest contemporary artists to date via the Archives’ Annual Fundraiser 2012. Proceeds of the pieces at auction can be bid online or bid live depending on the block for each work. All pieces for auction go on exhibit starting today at Sotheby’s One Pacific Place from 10AM to 5:30PM. Preview ends on the 23rd and live auction is this Saturday, November 24th. 

Check out my Top 5 Favorite works on the Auction block.

+ Dream 2007 No. 8 / JING Kewen / Lithograph, 65 x 65cm (SILENT LOT 37)

Jing Kewen’s works have been exhibited prominently in Europe and the United States. Primarily using Oil as his main medium, Jing Kewen’s very formal approach to painting often depict young figures amidst city scapes and architectures, using old 1950s photographs as a jumping off point. It’s not really political as it is aiming towards iconic romance.

+ Lanwei20 Tomorrow’s Resort Taipei, 2009 / anothermountainman (Stanley Wong) / Archival Inkjet Print / 109.2 x 174 CM (LIVE LOT 9)

 

Lan Wei reflects Stanley Wong’s obsessions with mankind’s abandoned construction projects when the economic bubble bursted in Asia in the mid 1990’s. This study, which began in China in 2006, has spread to documentation of other equally haunting ghost sites in the region such as Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. 

+ Al Gubaiba, 2012 / Joao Vasco Paiva / Acrylic and Offset Print on Canvas / 60 x 60 x 2 CM (SILENT LOT 68)

Joao Vasco Paiva is a Portuguese artist who has actively been producing great work from Hong Kong since he moved to the city in 2006. This particular painting reflects his formal studies in 2D and 3D which lean towards symbols, shapes, and topographies with an architectural implication. For example he took the Al Gubaiba (DUBAI) Subway Map and removed it of lines, text, and content, whats left is an alternate reading of the same subject matter via new form. His aim is to create or reveal a new facet of information from his urban studies.

+ Gloucester & Gloucester, 2001 printed in 2012 / LEUNG Chi Wo / C-Print / 35.5 x 55cm (SILENT LOT 47)

Co-founder of Para/Site Art Space, Leung Chi Wo is one of Hong Kong’s most prominent independent art figures. Leung Chi Wo usually works with Hong Kong as the main subject of his works, questioning history and identity through text and photography. This work is an offshoot of the artist’s Colour Series (1999-2003) and deals with perception of the urban space through the photographic capture and subsequent tweaking of the composition. 

+ Light Year No.9, 2006 / LIU Wei / Oil and Acrylic Paint on Metal Plate / 80 x 80cm (LIVE LOT 11)

Beijing born Liu Wei was recently named Artist of the Year in 2007 via the Chinese Contemporary Art Awards and showcased at Art Basel Miami Beach and the Lyon Biannial in 2007. Since then Liu Wei has shown in the Shanghai Biennial and exhibited his first show in London via White Cube Gallery this year. Liu Wei works with multiple mediums from sculpture, to film, to installation, to print. His works touch upon the human and social condition via dream figures and fantastical narratives.

Do you see a common thread in all the work above? Anyway, curious to know what your favorite pieces are in the auction. Check it out at the preview, and let me know!

SUPPORT AAA Fundraiser 2012 / Preview 20-23 November and Auction 24 November at Sotheby’s 5F One Pacific Place, Admiralty HK.

JJ.

Future Industries Hosts Closing Show by Stanley Wong and Charity Auction with Simon Birch

Future Industries, the guys who brought you the cool PRODIP show as well as the latest in works by SIMON BIRCH earlier this year, will be closing their very successful show, traces: on the road again, with anothermountainman (Stanley Wong) this Wednesday. The show explores the persistence of the past in the face of tumultuous change. Images of the desert landscape around Dunhuang in Gansu Province, China, photographed in 2010, are juxtaposed with images of Chinese words taken around the world over a period of fifteen years. Dunhuang was once a thriving commercial and spiritual centre on the ancient Silk Road leading from the north China plains to Mongolia, Southern Siberia, Tibet, India and further Westwards to Europe. Although it may feel remote today, these images remind us that the desert is alive with memory and meaning: tracks, roads, telegraph wires, satellite dishes and fading signage are the traces of an enduring human connectivity.

anothermountainman stands by his work

Also during the closing show, Future Industries will be auctioning artist, Simon Birch’s time and talent for charity that night with all the proceeds of the auction going to Operation Santa Claus. The workshop with Simon Birch can be used by a group of up to 5 people at anytime. (No need to apply to SCAD HK for lessons!)

Familiar faces spotted at the traces opening last month; Yuk below in red. (via FUTUREINDUSTRIES FB)

Future Industries’ Laura and Yardbird’s Lindsay

Artists Peter and Rocky

Future Industries’ anothermountainman and Simon Birch

Sneak peek at the show.

traces (closing) and Operation Santa Clause Charity Auction with Simon Birch / 14th DEC 2011 (Wednesday) / 6:30pm - 9:30pm / 21F, Ho Lee Commercial Building, 38-44 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong / 22910488 / rsvp@thefutureindustries.com / www.thefutureindustries.com

xJJ

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