Thursday, July 1, 2010

Asia Triennial Manchester 2011 and the Curatorial Labs

I worked on Asia Triennial 2008, a pioneering international art event set in Manchester. Here is a link which describes it a little:

I also gave a paper about the ontology of Biennials and Triennials (and even quadennials), let's just call them 'ennials, at Manchester Metropolitan University's 2007 conference, Everyday Life in the Global City. Here I asked whether the host cities of 'ennials work to convey art talent from around the world on a global scale or whether the city itself contains the event within the parameters of its own art institutions, attracting often local visitors. When the visitors are international, do 'ennials work to sell the city more than the art works. How important is the host of the 'ennial? Should the works of art submitted be customised, glocalised to corroborate their temporary location? If art is to be viewed globally, then surely it needs to be viewed form multi-site locations? We are currently asking ourselves questions like these in the discursive curatorial labs leading up to the next Asia Triennial Manchester next year. The labs are not just for curators, but for local academics, artists and the organising and marketing bodies surrounding the triennial, such as Shisha, the Asian art arts agency

Another question which arose in the last lab was, what do we mean by 'Asia' and why do we mean it? Whose Asia is it? When we speak of Asia is the 'we' the West? Is it we and them? Fifty years after the collapse of the British Empire, is our language still orientated to think like a centre peering upon a periphery. Contemporary art in South Korea, India and China is leading the rest of the world, arguably, - and these countries also host famous 'ennials. Is Europe the periphery now? Perhaps it is not necessary to divide the globe into two hemispheres - East, West or North, South and certainly not Orient, Occident. Is it better to talk of nations than continents or hemispheres, or is it best to simply talk of localities, like Manchester, Kwangju and Tapei? The world is brimming with localities and they are all different from each other but their difference perhaps doesn't have to be political. Each locale contains a multiplicity of cultural identities. Each place and, hence, each host is like a chunk of sedimentary rock. Slice a piece off and examine its layers.

Gwon Osang, from Deodorant Types, seen in Manchester Art Gallery at ATM08. Overlayered photos stuck to styrofoam, life sized molds.

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