Reviewing exhibitions, museums, films, literature and happenings
3-7 February 2016, Berlin
Reflecting the ambiguity of present digital culture
Anxious to Act
Anxious to Make
Anxious to Share
Anxious to Secure
These are the thematic streams of this year’s transmediale. Under the name Conversation Piece, artistic and research practice will unfold live through discussions, workshops, temporary installations, performances, and various hybrid formats
Kochi Muziris Biennale, India 2014/15
Hong Kong Arts Festival 2014
The Trisha Brown Dance Company performing at the Tamar Park at a stage facing the Hong Kong harbour.
Perhaps the Harbourfront Commission, a group of largely planners, bureaucrats and engineers, should include artists to develop more ideas on people-focused development of the area? The Commission, set up in 2010, describes itself as a “high-level champion for harbourfront issues to ensure that design, development and management are effectively integrated”. Inviting artists to the Commission could add another dimension to the development.
Art Basel Hong Kong 2013
Transitory Cities: Mumbai and Hong Kong
Mumbai-based contemporary artist, Jitish Kallat, showed his faux-bamboo installation Circa at the Art Basel Hong Kong in the Encounters section of the fair. The 120-part installation, which is a handcrafted sculpture cast in pigmented resin and steel, appears like a real bamboo scaffolding, which can be seen all over in Hong Kong and Mumbai, reminding us of the perennial (re)development of cities.
Only a closer look reveals the intricate sculptural reliefs of mythical animals devouring each other, inspired by the portico of the Victoria Terminus in central Mumbai, where millions of passengers pass through every day.
It the vast hall at the Art fair, it is easy to walk past this sculpture assuming it’s just one of the ubiquitous scaffolds we are so used to.
Circa was earlier exhibited in Melbourne, where the artist experimented with the existing structure and space of the Ian Potter Museum of Art. This intervention between the museum and Kallat’s artwork has been documented in a recently published book* and includes a conversation between the artist and the curator of the museum, as well as other materials about the background of the installation which Kallat says can also be understood as a scripture (see his interview on YouTube).
Circa shifts shape depending on the architecture of the space where it is installed and has been shown in different settings since it was first presented in 2011 in the Dr Bhau Daji Lad museum in Mumbai. Circa inhabits the space it is given, and the fascinating interaction between the spirit of the Potter museum and the artwork, could not be evoked by the rather profane character of the exhibition hall in the Hong Kong, which elicits no narratives or secret histories.
*Natalie King, Bala Starr (eds) 2013. Jitish Kallat: Circa, Utopia@AsialinkUniversity of Melbourne
Jitish Kallat discusses Circa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM2FTsDzqvo
Jitish Kallat on Artnet http://www.artnet.com/artists/jitish-kallat/
Possibilities of Non-Knowledge
In an interesting exhibition on the possibilities of non-knowledge at the municipal contemporary Art Gallery in Dresden, artists question existing, legitimate forms of knowledge. Does non-knowledge possess the potential to view existing knowledge in a different and novel way? What are the borders between knowledge and non-knowledge?
Exhibition at the Kunsthaus, Dresden, September 2011
13-15 September 2012, Asia-Europe Museum Network Conference (ASEMUS)
New and Sustainable Museum Education
How are Museums Communicating with the Viewer?
At the recent conference of the Asia-Europe Museum Network (ASEMUS) in Seoul on New and Sustainable Museum Education (13-15 September), different aspects of museum education were discussed, among others new forms of learning in museums using information and communication technologies and engaging the visitor in the information environment of a museum. Following this conference, a visit to the Seoul Museum of History to a special exhibition on 100 Years of the Koreans in Japan may illustrate that creating a museum exhibition as a mode of learning is often quite challenging.
The exhibition is announced on the museum’s homepage http://www.museum.seoul.kr/eng_new/index.jsp, which also has a short description in English. At the exhibition itself, however, the non-Korean speaking visitor is largely left alone since the information displayed next to the objects and pictures are not in English, making it nearly impossible for the viewer to understand the context. The website also has a virtual exhibition which it is entirely in Korean, and no other information tools such as leaflets or English audio tours were available.
Probably many museum visitors have had a similar experience when visiting a museum. For a museum to be considered a space of learning, one of the first questions is about the presentation of a topic and how the narrative context is created by the curator. The medium of presentation, if the objects are not self-explanatory, is a language.
An exhibition with a lot of objects depicting lives of Koreans in Japan over the past 100 years should also explain the socioeconomic and historical background as well as which perspective is taken in the narrative presented.
Museum displays can be examined from many perspectives: which historical facts are presented and which are omitted? What narrative of the past does the museum tell? How do its design, layout and use of media engage the attention and emotions of visitors? How do visitors experience past events as they walk through the museum’s halls?” Tessa Morris-Suzuki (2009) asks these questions when analyzing contested memories of the Korean War, and they are relevant for any exhibition about past social events and developments.
At Asian studies institutes at universities around the world the topic of “Koreans in Japan” has been widely studied as a case of intra-Asian migration and discrimination. Koreans constitute the largest “foreign” community residing in Japan. The East Asian Institute at Columbia University uses the story of Korean migration to Japan as an example on how physical and cultural similarities between ethnic groups do not guarantee that majority groups will accept the minority groups.
How is the ethnic discrimination displayed in the exhibition? Non-Korean speaking visitors can only guess discrimination issues from pictures of extremely poor living and working conditions of Koreans in Japan, however, no information is available in English.
A review in an English-language blog by Stephane Mot offers some more information about the exhibition; he comments the Japanese discrimination of Koreans through the objects and pictures on display and compares it to anti-Semitic propaganda in WWII, for example, he explains that a picture about a police briefing is about how to tell “Joseon” people from “authentic” Japanese people. Since there are few physical or behavioral differences, the police offers lets Koreans read a poem of a Japanese citizen, because that is a way of spotting a Korean accent. These are the kind of insights, visitors to this exhibition are interested to learn about.
Migration and discrimination of ethnic groups is a big topic both in Europe and in Asia; and the story of Koreans in Japan could be of interest to anyone trying to understand migration-related topics. Why was the opportunity of putting the Korean experience into a larger context not seen by the curators? Was the exhibition only meant for Korean visitors, since it was opened on the occasion of the national Independence Day?
Stephane Mot (2012) http://seoulvillage.blogspot.hk/2012/08/100-years-of-koreans-in-japan.html
Tessa Morris-Suzuki (2009) http://www.japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3193
Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition design http://accessible.si.edu/pdf/Smithsonian%20Guidelines%20for%20accessible%20design.pdf
Future Culture: [ln]tangible Heritage | Design | Cross Media
2 December 2012: Opening reception & exhibition
3-5 December 2012: Symposium
Please register for NODEM 2012 Hong Kong. This conference is free of charge.
NODEM 2012 Hong Kong will bring together leading theorists, practitioners and artists in conversation about the future of digital heritage, creative practices, design and emerging technologies. Pioneers from diverse countries and cross-disciplinary fields will focus on a range of issues covering new forms of heritage interpretation and the future of new media at the forefront of museum design. Emphasis will be placed on cutting edge research and practice from around the world, with a focus on tangible and intangible heritage in Asian contexts. The three-day programme will include day-long special sessions on Digital Intangible Heritage of Asia (DIHA) and the inaugural Museums and the Web Asia. The three-day event will stimulate research networks for those in pursuit of excellence in the digital work of museums, galleries, archives and libraries.
Primary symposium activities will be held at the landmark Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre. At Gallery 360 the seminal 3D exhibition ‘Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang’ (2012) will be open for private viewing by Future Culture participants. Events will also take place at ALiVE’s state-of-the-art immersive exhibition spaces.
NODEM 2012 Hong Kong is hosted by City University of Hong Kong’s Advanced Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Studies in collaboration with the School of Creative Media and the Applied Laboratory for Interactive Visualization and Embodiment (ALiVE) supported by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
Future Culture is part of the NODEM (Nordic Digital Excellence in Museums) conference series under the stewardship of the Interactive Institute of Sweden.
Email contact: future. culture (at) cityu.edu.hk
The Role of Museums in Knowledge Societies
Following the Museum and the Web conference in Philadelphia in April 2011, the role of museum in knowledge societies has become one of our research topics. This year’s conference took place in San Diego http://www.museumsandtheweb.com/conferences/mw/mw2012 and will be in Portland in 2013.
The inaugural Museum and the Web Asia will be part of the Future Culture Symposium in Hong Kong (see above)