Archive for May, 2010


May 28, 2010


May 28, 2010

What are new directions in Hong Kong curation?
May 25, 2010 by Katie Grube no comment

As Hong Kong prepares for the third annual ArtHK fair launching May 26, InBrief brings you an on-the-ground interview between RedBox contributor Katie Grube, and Para/Site director Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya to discuss current directions in Hong Kong curation and Para/Site’s risk-taking approach to programming, particularly the recent collaboration between Ai Weiwei’s FAKE Studio and Acconci Studio in New York.
Katie Grube (KG): Let’s start by talking about Para/Site’s on-going projects. Let’s talk about “The Problem of Asia” at Chalk Horse, Sydney. You had mentioned that you had wanted this to be a “discursive platform” for possibly series of group shows or exhibitions.

Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya (ARF): This exhibition is like the “starter”. We still have the main course to come. And that will be very interesting. It’s not easy to find the organisations that are interested in this type of discussion. It’s easier to find organisations that are just interested in an exhibition. That’s the great thing about Asia there is loads of potential, partners that you can talk to. Museum protocols are not like in Europe and things can be done in short-term in Asia. Things can be planned and you can do them in 2-3 months. That’s the good thing about Para/Site – our flexibility.

That’s what happened with the thing we’re doing at Tate Modern [as part of No Soul for Sale – A Festival of Independents]. It’s a project that has been organised with very short lead-time, but we got invited and I saw the opportunity of being there with five artists from Hong Kong. This is a project that is in cooperation with Leung Chi Wo and is called, “Silent Impact.” We are going to be working with Lee Kit, Lam Tung Pang, Cedric Maridet, Morgan Wong and Win Fat. It’s connected to the idea of politics in Asia, Chinese culture, connected into the history and memory of Hong Kong, connected into also to London and the situation where this project is going to be, which is Tate Modern. We are not working with the idea of a white cube setting. This is like a festival. Lots of the works are very much performance-based.

KG: Can you tell me more about the Ai Weiwei and Acconci collaboration?

ARF: This project started with an invitation that I mentioned to Ai Weiwei more than a year ago. The idea of involving Acconci Studio, I came up with that idea because of similarities in the development of both artists, although there are huge conceptual differences between both of them. Both artists — or architects — were very interested in developing the project, so we offered our space to do that. It’s a project that is larger than Para/Site. We are used to handling small sized projects and to handle two large studios is not usual for us. We are small team of only four people. We have to organise all the projects. Additionally, we have an educational program, which is a curatorial training program, a mentoring program with four students every year and thirteen lecturers for the year.

KG: To return to the Ai Weiwei show, will you be showing architectural renderings?

ARF: We are going to divide the gallery into a virtual grid. We are going to play a game, but a game that is the result of a virtual discussion process. Where they will occupy for the period of the exhibition the exhibition space. They will send to us the physical result of their discussions. There is going to be a discussion happening every week over the phone between the two of them from New York and from Beijing. That’s going to help the development and to define the direction of the project over the course of eight weeks, although the output is going to be differentiated from each studio. Each studio will submit their own projects, drawings, text or models. So the gallery at the start will be quite empty and it will be updated at the end of the project at the end of two month. This is a project I hope we can make tour.

KG: How did you come up with the project?

ARF: I just came up with the idea. It’s not a stroke of genius. Whenever I approach an artist, I never approach them with “do you want to do a show?” I approach them with ideas that I feel can engage them. Basically, when you approach artists that are right now quite successful and very much in demand, you need to give them a reason of why they are going to be working with you, why are they going to give you their time. We don’t have much to give at Para/Site. Hong Kong is a great city, but, in terms of venue, the venue is tiny and the budget – the budget is smaller than the venue. But, that, throughout my career, working that way and always try to give the artists a reason of why they want to work with me. I proposed several ideas I had in mind that I thought would be interesting for Ai Weiwei. And working together with Acconci Studio was the idea that he really liked.

KG: Does Para/Site have much interaction with institutions in Hong Kong or organisations in Asia?

ARF: It’s open-ended. I am looking for collaborations all the time. And since Hong Kong is stopover for curators that are going to South East Asia, Australia, China…it’s a great place to be and to find new relations that can help the organisation. Right now the collaborations that I mentioned are happening with Tate Modern and White Chapel, the organisations I already mentioned. We are also planning a collaboration with the Liverpool Biennale. The partners we have been working with, for example, Chalk Horse and Gallery Ver, they operate in a different way than we do because they are commercial but, why we work with them, is because part of what they do is totally non-commercial. The way they operate started as an artist collective which is very interesting for us. But to find pure not-for-profit organisations that we can relate to is not easy in China.

KG: What is your focus for the long-term?

ARF: I’m looking into ways I can concentrate a bit more on the projects. For international projects, I would like to do a little bit more with larger projects. Concentration rather than… For the moment it is a bit like a blanket. I think it has been good that we have been everywhere. That’s why we’re now getting invited to things like No Soul For Sale or like White Chapel because people know about us. I think in a way it’s been good that we’ve been doing many, many projects because it’s given us a chance to select what we want.

[Excerpt in translation:}

随着香港正在筹备于5月26日开始的第三界香港艺术博览会,InBrief为您带来由红盒子撰稿人Katie Grube和Para-Site艺术空间总监Alvaro Rodriguez一次实地采访,主要探讨目前香港展览策划的发展方向,包括最近Para-Site与艾未未和维托・阿康西的合作。在线阅读全文,摘要如下:

KG: 让我们先谈谈Para-Site正在进行的项目吧,你曾经提到过你认为在悉尼艺术实验场的“亚洲问题”展将是为一系列的群体表演或者展览提供的话语平台。


KG: 你能更多地讲讲有关艾未未和阿孔奇合作吗?

ARF: 这个项目一年多以前就开始邀请艾未未。关于阿孔奇工作室的创意,我提出了那个想法因为在这两个艺术家有着相似的发展理念,尽管两者之间有巨大的概念差异。但无论艺术家还是建筑师对进行这个项目都非常感兴趣,所以我们提供我们的空间来做这个事情。这是对于习惯处理小型项目的Para-Site来说着手这样两个大工作室的项目是不寻常的,因为我们毕竟是一个只有四人的团队。

KG: 对于艾未未的展览,你们会展示建筑效果图吗?

ARF: 我们会将画廊空间划分成虚拟的网格。我们打算玩一个游戏,但是这游戏就是这虚拟探讨过程中他们将占据展览的空间内的结果。他们会发送给我们他们讨论的结果。他们两个每周都将从纽约和从北京进行电话通话进行有一个交流和探讨。这将有助于发展和界定在八个星期内的项目的发展方向,虽然每个工作室的最终进度会有所不同,但是他们最后会提交自己的项目、图纸、文字和模型等。因此,在一开始画廊将会相当的空,但它会在这个项目快结束的时候更新和充实。


May 7, 2010

We are now working on the project at full speed. At first, more than a year ago I didn’t really know what to expect from it, although of course I had my own guessing. It has been a long task to get both studios to start communicating, at first everything was really slow, for about a year. Now things are happening at light speed. The gallery space has become a diary that both studios are using for a work in progress. I agree that one strong component is the research on the process, the most interesting part is that the result is multilayered and complex. Very much in concordance with Vito Acconci’s concept of contemporary skimming, which is based in the possibility of access to knowledge in the 21st Century, it is about width and not depth. I like this thought. Both studios have managed to find their own space within the project and be coherent with their respective practices.  The project is about accumulation, about use of space, about sound, about life, conversation and ideas. Every week the project changes with successive additions. We are currently working on what I call a “sound installation”, with 12 channels and a succession of speakers suspended from the ceiling including the conversations from both studios. We have received the design for the sound part from Acconci Studio that is working with ARUP for this, at it makes complete sense to focus on users and not viewers, as the architect mentions.

Ai Weiwei is contributing a series of 128 photographs that record the whole process from Hong Kong to Beijing and back, we are getting them printed in Beijing, and next week we should have them plastered on the walls, according to the virtual grid of 70x70x70 cm cubes that we have prepared in advance. Other layers of photos that will cover the previous ones will be plastered later on. We have also received a huge parcel from Ai Weiwei Studio. Here are some photos of the parcel in Beijing, and here in Para/Site. Inside there are some models that we are placing in the installation.

Also, more online conversations will follow between the studios. The public can participate if they come to Para/Site Art Space. It is all part of the working method, its like an open source computer language.


May 7, 2010

The collaboration with Vito Acconci at Parasite Art Space is an effort in figuring out ways to collaborate, ways defining the actual process of working together. Through the development of a gallery project we are to think the formation of a city.

Urban planning deals with limits. In actual living, rules come after facts, matters of convenience and temporality overrides control. In a densely populated city like Hong Kong, the formation of structure and existence in low income neighborhoods make more sense compare to central planned areas. One could readily discover and observe the charms and intelligence in the traces of living.

This exhibition adapts to logic of urban growth, a stream of work, conversation, resource, text, pictures, images and recordings layered to whatever form they may take. The work here may be interpreted as culture in the end, but not an event intended for culture.

Ai Weiwei

May 6, 2010


May 6, 2010

Here are some images of the exhibition. It opened last week. We are getting ready also for our projects in Hong Kong with Acconci Studio and Ai Weiwei and No Soul For Sale in Tate Modern.