On the Ground: 2nd Aichi Triennale, 2013

Japan 

Awakening  — Where Are We Standing? — Earth, Memory and Resurrection.

The 2nd Aichi Triennale, curated by Taro Igarashi, runs from August 8 – October 27, 2013. In addition to the venues in the main city of Nagoya, for the first time the event also takes place at various locations in Okazaki. It is the first major exhibition in Japan since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. The title “Awakening — Where Are We Standing? — Earth, Memory and Resurrection,” in Japanese literally means ‘shaking earth,’ yet the curators stress that the triennale is not intended to be explicitly about the event, but aims to spark a wider discussion about human irresponsibility, loss, tragedy and renewal - as Igarashi says “it is a critical situation where the place we stand and our identities are fluctuating.” It is an ambitious undertaking with 76 participating artists, 50% of those international, leading it to be considered the largest contemporary art event in Japan.

Part of a series titled “Blue Print” by the architectural group Open United Studio, which aims to evoke the memories of various global cities. Fushimi Underground Shopping Street. 

Part of a series titled “Blue Print” by the architectural group Open United Studio, which aims to evoke the memories of various global cities. Fushimi Underground Shopping Street. 

Choja-machi site, Nagoya.

Scattered with signboards stating “Choja-machi textile town,” the area’s past as one of the three thriving textile towns after the war is evident. Although it was affected by the recession, in recent years the area has seen studios and galleries breathing a new life into it and the vacant buildings are now being used to exhibit art.

Wall painting on the former Tamaya building by Portuguese artist Rigo 23 who was inspired by a 1952 photograph of Nagoya workers perched on ladders. Choja-machi site.

Wall painting on the former Tamaya building by Portuguese artist Rigo 23 who was inspired by a 1952 photograph of Nagoya workers perched on ladders. Choja-machi site.

Marlon Griffiths (b.1976) working in his open studio.    Griffiths started out designing Mas (masquerade) costumes for the Carnival in his hometown of   Trinidad and Tobago  .   Choja-machi area.

Marlon Griffiths (b.1976) working in his open studio. Griffiths started out designing Mas (masquerade) costumes for the Carnival in his hometown of Trinidad and TobagoChoja-machi area.

Aichi Arts Centre and Aichi Prefectural Museum, Nagoya.

The Aichi Arts Center. Comprised of twelve floors above ground and five floors below ground it also houses an art museum, rental gallery, art theaters, the Aichi Prefectural Arts Promotion Service, and the Art Library. The Aichi Prefectural Museum is located on the tenth floor.

The Aichi Arts Center. Comprised of twelve floors above ground and five floors below ground it also houses an art museum, rental gallery, art theaters, the Aichi Prefectural Arts Promotion Service, and the Art Library. The Aichi Prefectural Museum is located on the tenth floor.

Romanian artist Dan Perjovschi’s    The Top Drawing,    2013   on the window of the 11th floor-viewing balcony of the Aichi Arts Center.

Romanian artist Dan Perjovschi’s The Top Drawing, 2013 on the window of the 11th floor-viewing balcony of the Aichi Arts Center.

Song Dong  with his installation “ Wisdom of the Poor”  2010-2013, a work the artist has been developing for years which   looks at the importance of borrowing. He believes people work in the same way as politics, moving their borders and territories to claim more power. Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art.

Song Dong with his installation “Wisdom of the Poor” 2010-2013, a work the artist has been developing for years which looks at the importance of borrowing. He believes people work in the same way as politics, moving their borders and territories to claim more power. Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art.

Han     Feng ,  Floating Cit    y   ,   2008. Tracing paper (laser print) and fish tackle thread.  150 x 600 cm.    Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art.

Han FengFloating City2008. Tracing paper (laser print) and fish tackle thread. 150 x 600 cm. Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art.

Architecture historian and member of ROJI,  Fujimori Terunobu    ’ s Flying Mud Boat,   2010. Installed outside the Nagoya City Art Museum.

Architecture historian and member of ROJI, Fujimori Terunobus Flying Mud Boat, 2010. Installed outside the Nagoya City Art Museum.

Toyo Logistics Building, Nayabashi area

A warehouse with a structure originally built for a bowling alley. This is the last time it is being used by the triennale. 

site-specific installation  Lane 61 , 2013. Wilson explains that bowling acts as a metaphor for life; the ball rolls down knocking everything over, yet the pins always come back up.   Toyo Logistics Building.

site-specific installation Lane 61, 2013. Wilson explains that bowling acts as a metaphor for life; the ball rolls down knocking everything over, yet the pins always come back up. Toyo Logistics Building.

A dramatic foam landscape continually changes in shape by the Japanese artist  Nawa Kohei.  Third floor of the Toyo Logistics Building.

A dramatic foam landscape continually changes in shape by the Japanese artist Nawa Kohei. Third floor of the Toyo Logistics Building.

Okazaki area

 30 minutes by train from Nagoya and located in the center of the former Mikawa Province, Okazaki city was once a bustling castle town. This is the first time the area has been used for the triennale.

LA-based artists   Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz, collectively known as    Guerra de la Paz   , pictured in front of  Secret Garden , 2013 on the unused top floor of a shopping mall in the Higashi Okazaki Station.     While they generally source their materials from the waste bins of second-hand goods shipping companies in Miami’s Little Haiti, for their site-specific work at the Aichi Triennale they use clothes from the factories in Ozahaki.   Okazaki site.

LA-based artists Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz, collectively known as Guerra de la Paz, pictured in front of Secret Garden, 2013 on the unused top floor of a shopping mall in the Higashi Okazaki Station. While they generally source their materials from the waste bins of second-hand goods shipping companies in Miami’s Little Haiti, for their site-specific work at the Aichi Triennale they use clothes from the factories in Ozahaki. Okazaki site.

Secret Garden,    detail.

Secret Garden, detail.

Okazaki CIBICO department store.

Okazaki CIBICO department store.

Palestinian-born UK-based artist  Bashir Makhoul 's   installation   Ghost, Exit Ghost  , 2012 - a 100m long cardboard maze that eventually leads to an Arab town or refugee camp. Images of East Jerusalem and a Palestinian refugee camp change as the viewer walks past. Okazaki CIBICO.    

Palestinian-born UK-based artist Bashir Makhoul's installation Ghost, Exit Ghost, 2012 - a 100m long cardboard maze that eventually leads to an Arab town or refugee camp. Images of East Jerusalem and a Palestinian refugee camp change as the viewer walks past. Okazaki CIBICO.

 

Matsumoto-cho site in the Okazaki area.

Matsumoto-cho site in the Okazaki area.

News: Wangechi Mutu's Imaginative Journey

Sydney, Australia 

Interwined, 2003

Interwined, 2003

An interview with Kenyan-born, Brooklyn-based artist Wangechi Mutu. Her sculptures, works on paper, installations, and videos explore gender, race, and sexual identity using collage and assemblage strategies that create provocative juxtapositions of the female body. 'Wangechi Mutu', curated by Rachel Kent, is on at the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney from 23 May - 14 August 2013. 

Lucy Rees: How did you first come to art?

Wangechi Mutu: I was always a visual person. I’m not really sure how I came to it. My earliest memory is drawing. Drawing until I ran out of paper. Something I would do without being asked to. I think it was my blessing and curse. It was given to me.

LR: And do you still draw?

WM: I love it. For me it’s the most genuine part of my practice. It’s the most intimate because I don’t draw for anyone but myself. I draw and sketch everything before making it. I love the quality and flow of lines in other peoples’ work. It is something I always respond to. I have a lot of sketchbooks filled with ideas. Some of my major works have started as a small sketch in one of these books. I always say to people who can’t do art that you just didn’t have a good teacher. 

Wangechi Mutu Lucy Rees Art


LR: You seem to have moved away from collage in recent years and have been focused on creating these larger all-consuming installations. Have you exhausted collage for the moment?

WM: I haven’t exactly moved on from collage but I have been doing other things, that’s true. I have just finished a collage on linoleum series titled “Girl Specimens.” It is a new body of work, thinking about the body as collected specimen. Knowledge, like science, natural science, progresses by cutting things up or even killing things in order to study them, which is such a bizarre thing. It’s a fascination for me, but also a problem. How we consider what we learn. I was looking at a lot of books of paleontological specimens and I came across these old, strange crustaceans. I loved the way they were arranged in the book formally, but also how similar some of these animals were to body parts. So, I am still making collage and I am using a new surface — linoleum. I used to use Mylar, but I was finding it limiting. It’s a tough material but it is thin so you can’t stick too much on it. So now the works are collage, sculpture, video and installation all in one. 

LR: Your use of difference mediums seems to integrate seamlessly. I mean, even in your sculptures and installations there are elements of cutting, layering, building…

WM: Yes, it’s definitely the way I think. I don’t naturally segregate them. You know, it’s funny; I get invited to do these artist talks at painting schools. Because a lot of my work is 2-D, I suppose the painting departments think of me. But I actually studied sculpture. I kind of have this weird, ambidextrous, upside-down approach to these things. I naturally combine them.

wangechi mutu lucy rees art
wangechi mutu lucy rees art


LR: Is there an angle we are supposed to read your works from?

WM: I don’t think so. That would be such an amazing thing to be able to prepare people and decide how everyone should look at something. Part of what I am saying with this interest and ability of mine to combine things is also about not treating them in a hierarchal manner. For me, my work is more about the viewer. I want people to see them how they want. Some people see women, and that’s it. And then there are other people who see that the women are cut up, or broken, or question if they are really women or animals. If you are not interested in the issues, such as the objectification of women’s bodies, then this part won’t strike you. I think people are willing to see what they are ready to see. That said, I try to infiltrate the subconscious. I try to get far enough, so that if you remember the work a few months or years from now you might say, wait a minute… that is maybe what is going on.

LR: I’d agree that they have that ability. While some of your works have a more obvious or explicit message, such as your pin-up girls from The Ark Collection (2006), with others you’re not really sure what is happening. But you’re aware you are looking at something powerful and confrontational.

WM: Right. That’s my method. I am not didactic in that way. They are opinions on history or politics or social issues. They are my opinions and I want to transmit them, communicate then or even convince people that there might be some truth to them. But I just don’t believe in banging people over the head. I also really love visually interesting seductive things. I like to draw people in to a difficult message to be accepted. You can put a little pill in there. I think there are also many creatures and animals that act in this way. They draw you in, and then they bite you, or poison you or engulf you. I admire what nature does when it tries to bring you hither.

wangechi mutu lucy rees art

 

LR: A lot of the time your work is thematized, either in curated group shows or when it’s written about in art journals. It can be pigeonholed. If there was a myth to be dispelled about your practice, or something you feel has been too focused on, what would it be?

WM: I think people get lazy. They read what has already been written and base their writing on other people. And it spirals. I follow certain trains of thought. And I can say: “That came from that article, which came from that article…” Even when I go to a museum and see a show I think I should try to be open and fresh about it. But I think there are some things that haven’t been focused on enough, or brought up with my work. Until recently people were still confusing me for American. So I think one of the things I have always wanted is to be understood in the realm of contemporary African art. 

LR: So you feel very strongly rooted to your African heritage?

WM: I really do. I lived there until I was twenty, my formative years. It’s hard to ever get rid of those influences and that training. And the beauty of being born there, you can’t undo it. I think some things that I place in the work have so much to do with Kenya. America is not as interested in contemporary Africa as I would like it to be.

LR: Would you say the same for the rest of the world, or America specifically?

WM: I think Europe has an interesting, problematic and long relationship with Africa. The geographical proximity, the colonial history. There are a lot of Africans living in Europe. I have found that there are more Europeans willing to go there, who are more confident about saying things without looking over their shoulder and worrying: “Am I being stereotypical?" Sometimes I do think that people extrapolate feminism a lot. I am a big feminist, but I am not coming from the Western understanding of feminism. It’s not an American feminism. The protests I follow by African women are very different from the protests that happen in the US or Europe. 

LR: Let’s talk about this idea of multiple feminisms.

WM: I was in a show in 2007 at the Brooklyn Museum called “Global Feminisms.” It had so many problems that were interesting because they were inherent in the idea of feminism being plural. There were all these women from all over the world, but the discussion between the feminisms was really difficult to have. I mean, people’s feminism, or rather, people’s interest in women’s empowerment, comes from totally different places. It’s not about art anymore. It’s about life and politics.

LR: Interesting that the concept of feminism is a Western construct — it doesn’t actually exist in most of the world.

WM: Yes, yet there is a long history in these countries of the strength of the female, and the female body, that is undeniably a feminist space. These are some of the areas I’d like more focus on. 

LR: Your largest retrospective to date is currently on at the MCA. Let’s talk about some of the works.

WM: The curator, Rachel Kent, knew of all these works, and I was astounded that she wanted to transport so many big installations to Australia. All my works are like babies, they’re my children; it’s hard to pick out favourites. Although some have been problem children! Exhuming Gluttony: Another Requiem (2006) was a very expensive and very elaborate installation with a lot of dense issues, but ultimately I wanted to create a feast, a communing of people and minds and viewers. Something has gone wrong, there is a tragedy or unfolding of evil. It is a confluence of issues to do with war, with consumption and waste, wealth, America. Exhuming Gluttony: Another Requiem (2006) took a lot longer, it was much more complicated in terms of how many people assisted me to make it. Then there’s of course my little Intertwined (2008) piece where I combine two bodies from a fashion magazine in this erotic sexy pose. When I made the decision to put the hunting dog heads on them it was such a milestone. A moment when I decided to make African women like animals. I wanted to pay homage to mythology and the use of animals as a way of understanding human behaviour, but also how women are depicted like animals. All these things are intertwined into the one piece. There are two energies — one is much stronger and the other is coyer. It was magnificent how it just worked. Mud Fountain (2010) is a video work where I am actually posed as a woman in a cell. Actually I’ve been thinking how I use Catholicism and the Catholic Church as a major form of inspiration.

wangechi mutu lucy rees

LR: You were educated at a strict Catholic school, weren’t you?

WM: For a long time, twelve years! Catholicism is so rigid and really deeply affects you. It really gets into every little crevice. 

LR: And the visual imagery of the religious and biblical stories, you can see those elements of sacrifice, transformation, etc. in many of your works. From Metha (2010) with the bottles of milk and wine, to Mud Fountain.

WM: A suffering body in the middle of the cell. The notion of suffering and bloodletting. It is ancient, pre-Christian. There is something primitive about religious imagery. It reaches back to our oldest ancestors. This notion that if you kill an animal or a person and offer its blood then the gods will be kind to you. I believe it is still there. Bride killings, war, offering animals. Mud Fountain is bringing the eye to the center of the room, to the offering.

wangechi mutu lucy rees

 

LR: Where do you get your inspiration? You emit a curiosity about the world.

WM: I think a lot of it is within me. And I have attention deficit disorder [laughs]. I did travel a lot before I got to the US, and then I became stationary mainly because of these issues of immigration and also at times not being able to afford it. I traveled in the work, I traveled in a fantasy… 

wangechi mutu lucy rees

LR: And that’s the name of your show at the Nasher Museum?

WM: Yes. We tried so hard to find an appropriate name. Trevor, the curator, who knows me really well, told me about this show called “Fantastic Journey,” about this group of kids who get lost in a parallel universe and can’t seem to find their way home. It had a Wizard of Oz–like connotation — I am trying to get back home. It references the way I think, the way I go wandering off into my imagination, and it goes into my collages. The End of Eating Everything is a new 8-min video where I actually animated the way I think, my process. So that was a collage come to life. And in it, there is this female multi-cellular crazy thing traveling. She is travelling with no sense of where she is coming from and where she is going. 

This interview took place in Sydney at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2013. 

 

 

On the Ground : Sharjah Biennial 11, 2013

  

Sharjah Biennial 11. Re-Emerge: Towards a new Cultural Cartography

 

External View of the Sharjah Art Museum. Photo: Lucy Rees.

External View of the Sharjah Art Museum. Photo: Lucy Rees.

Inspired by the courtyard in Islamic architecture — in particular the historical courtyards of Sharjah, where elements of both public and private life intertwine —  the curator Yuko Hasegawa proposes a new cultural cartography that reconsiders the relationships between the Arab world, Asia, the Far East, through North Africa to Latin America.

 

Zeinab Alhashemi. Circumvolution State of Mind. 2013. Site-specific installation, metal string, traditional fish trap. Photo: Lucy Rees.

Zeinab Alhashemi. Circumvolution State of Mind. 2013. Site-specific installation, metal string, traditional fish trap. Photo: Lucy Rees.

Courtyard in Sharjah Heritage Area. Photo: Lucy Rees

Courtyard in Sharjah Heritage Area. Photo: Lucy Rees

External view of Thilo Frank's  Infinite Rock . 2013. Mixed media, steel, aluminum, fabric, glass mirrors, wood, rope, light, swing. Photo: Lucy Rees.

External view of Thilo Frank's Infinite Rock. 2013. Mixed media, steel, aluminum, fabric, glass mirrors, wood, rope, light, swing. Photo: Lucy Rees.

Thilo Frank's  Infinite Rock . 2013. Mixed media, steel, aluminum, fabric, glass mirrors, wood, rope, light, swing. Photo: Lucy Rees.

Thilo Frank's Infinite Rock. 2013. Mixed media, steel, aluminum, fabric, glass mirrors, wood, rope, light, swing. Photo: Lucy Rees.

The opening of SB11 marked the inauguration of SAF's five new multi-functional art spaces, which have been in development since 2009. With approximately 20,000 square feet of interior space, connected by open-air courtyards and roof-top terraces, these new spaces will provide venues for SAF's growing activities and the increasing needs of its community.

 

Francis Alys, Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River. 2008.  Videos, paintings, drawings, sculpture and photographic installation. In collaboration with Julien Devaux, Rafael Ortega, Felix Blume, Ivan Bocara, Jimena Blasquez, Roberto Rubalcava, Begoña Rey, Abbas Benhnin and the kids of Tarifa and Tangier. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Haupt & Binder. 

Francis Alys, Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River. 2008.  Videos, paintings, drawings, sculpture and photographic installation. In collaboration with Julien Devaux, Rafael Ortega, Felix Blume, Ivan Bocara, Jimena Blasquez, Roberto Rubalcava, Begoña Rey, Abbas Benhnin and the kids of Tarifa and Tangier. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Haupt & Binder. 

Monir Farmanfarmaian, Untitled 8 and Untitled 1. Mirror and reverse glass painting on plaster and wood. Photo: Haupt & binder. 

Monir Farmanfarmaian, Untitled 8 and Untitled 1. Mirror and reverse glass painting on plaster and wood. Photo: Haupt & binder. 

External view of SAF new art spaces.

External view of SAF new art spaces.

Wei Liu: Merely a Mistake II. 2009-13 Exotic Lands. 2013. Installation with doors and door frames. New SAF spaces. Photo: Haupt & Binder.

Wei Liu: Merely a Mistake II. 2009-13 Exotic Lands. 2013. Installation with doors and door frames. New SAF spaces. Photo: Haupt & Binder.

Near the Sharjah heritage area on Bank Street, works could be found in the Sharjah Islamic Bank—a 1970s building soon to be demolished for reconstructing heritage housing. Sara Ramo's site-specific installation made an interesting use of the top floor.

 

External view of the Sharjah Islamic Bank. Photo: Haupt & Binder. 

External view of the Sharjah Islamic Bank. Photo: Haupt & Binder. 

Sara Ramo, The Garden From Free Zone. 2013 Site-specific installation, varied objects found inside the bank building and the basement of the Culture Department located in the Free Zone of Sharjah. Photo: Haupt & Binder.

Sara Ramo, The Garden From Free Zone. 2013 Site-specific installation, varied objects found inside the bank building and the basement of the Culture Department located in the Free Zone of Sharjah. Photo: Haupt & Binder.

On the Ground : 'Birth of a Museum' in Abu Dhabi, 2013

   Model of Saadiyat Island Cultural District. The completed cultural district will include the Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Maritime Museum, and a Performing Arts Centre. The district already includes the Manarat Al Saadiyat (open since 2009) and the UAE Pavilion (2011). Photo: Lucy Rees

 

Model of Saadiyat Island Cultural District. The completed cultural district will include the Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Maritime Museum, and a Performing Arts Centre. The district already includes the Manarat Al Saadiyat (open since 2009) and the UAE Pavilion (2011). Photo: Lucy Rees

I recently attended the opening of the much anticipated exhibition, “Birth of a Museum,” on April 22, 2013 in the galleries of Manarat Al Saadiyat - the exhibition centre on Saadiyat island where the Louvre Abu Dhabi is currently under construction.

It is the first large-scale presentation of a selection of the museum’s permanent collection. Divided into 10 thematic sections, on display are 130 of the 460 artworks already acquired. 

Following a number of delays and setbacks with the museum’s construction, the exhibition gives the viewer a hint of what is being created prior to the museum’s actual opening in 2015.

Designed by Jean Nouvel, the construction of the building began in 2009 and was initially expected to open in 2012. HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, says the exhibition aims “to evoke the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ambiance and aesthetics, and to begin to tell the story of the birth of this museum.” 

The exhibition runs from April 22 - 20 July 2013 in Abu Dhabi and will then be presented at the Louvre Paris in October 2013.

   HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, HE Zaki Nusseibeh, Adviser Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Rita Aoun-Abdo, Executive Director, Culture Sector, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. Photo: Lucy Rees

 

HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, HE Zaki Nusseibeh, Adviser Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Rita Aoun-Abdo, Executive Director, Culture Sector, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. Photo: Lucy Rees

Standing outside the Manarat Al Saadiyat. Photo: Lucy Rees

Standing outside the Manarat Al Saadiyat. Photo: Lucy Rees

UAE Nationals and diplomats line up for the “Birth of a Museum” opening, Abu Dhabi. Photo: Lucy Rees.

UAE Nationals and diplomats line up for the “Birth of a Museum” opening, Abu Dhabi. Photo: Lucy Rees.

   Pablo Picasso, Portrait of a Lady, 1928. A practically unknown work, it has never been exhibited before, and only mentioned in A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years 1917-1932 by John Richardson. It was purchased by the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2012. Photo: Lucy Rees

 

Pablo Picasso, Portrait of a Lady, 1928. A practically unknown work, it has never been exhibited before, and only mentioned in A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years 1917-1932 by John Richardson. It was purchased by the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2012. Photo: Lucy Rees

Architect Jean Nouvel and friend at the exhibition opening. Photo: Lucy Rees.

Architect Jean Nouvel and friend at the exhibition opening. Photo: Lucy Rees.

Opening night at the Manarat al Saadiyat exhibition centre. Photo: Lucy Rees

Opening night at the Manarat al Saadiyat exhibition centre. Photo: Lucy Rees

Bactrian Princess. Central Asia, late third millennium BCE – early second millennium. Chlorite for the body and headdress, calcite for the face. 25cm. 

Bactrian Princess. Central Asia, late third millennium BCE – early second millennium. Chlorite for the body and headdress, calcite for the face. 25cm. 

Birth of a Museum, Vernissage.

Birth of a Museum, Vernissage.

Read my article about the exhibition in Flash Art International here 

On the Ground : Gallery hopping in Dubai

After a fantastic couple of days in Abu Dhabi for the "Birth of a Museum" exhibition opening (April 22 – 20 July 2013), I headed north to Dubai where I planned to spend just one night. Having never been before, upon arrival I immediately realised that I needed more time.

DIFC

First stop was a visit the commercial galleries at the DIFC - a Federal Financial Free Zone administered by the Government of Dubai. Free zones in Dubai stimulate business growth by providing ownership, tax incentives and assistance in setting up companies in the UAE.

Nestled among the banks and financial institutions are 12 galleries including: 

 Cuadro Fine Art Gallery 

Farjam Collection

Opera Gallery

the Empty Quarter Fine Art Photography 

Alserkal Avenue

I then spent the afternoon at Alserkal Avenue with the director of Cultural Development, Vilma Jurkute. Developed by Mr. Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, the industrial precinct featuring desiccated row of warehouses has become a vibrant cultural hub in Dubai housing 25 creative spaces including art galleries, a private art museum and auction house.  

Among the galleries are:

Ayyam Gallery

Carbon12

Etemad Gallery

Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde

Green Art Gallery

Grey Noise

Lawrie Shabibi

Salsali Private Museum 

Al Quoz. Photo: Lucy Rees

Al Quoz. Photo: Lucy Rees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ramin Salsali Private Museum, Dubai. Photo: Lucy Rees.

Ramin Salsali Private Museum, Dubai. Photo: Lucy Rees.

There are plans in place to expand the Avenue by 2014.

Update: The district laid its first foundation for its 250 000 sq. ft. expansion in Al Quoz in November 2013 doubling its size with a private investment of 50 Mln AED (13.8 Mln USD) by Alserkal family. 

The Third Line, Dubai 

After a quick visit to the Gold Souk I attended the opening of an exhibition by New York-based Egyptian photographer Youssef Nabil (b.1972). 

His most recent show "Time of Transformation" at The Third Line, Dubai (April 24 - June 12, 2013), reveals Nabil's anguish about the changes taking place in Egyptian society after the recent revolution.

Youssef Nabil (b.1972) pictured at the opening of his exhibition, Third Line Gallery, Dubai. Photo: Lucy Rees. 

Youssef Nabil (b.1972) pictured at the opening of his exhibition, Third Line Gallery, Dubai. Photo: Lucy Rees. 

Above, he stands in front of two works from “The Veiled Women” series where he asked well-known women artists, actors and musicians such as Catherine Deneuve, Isabella Rosselini and Alicia Keys to pose for him wearing the traditional Middle Eastern veil. 

"Veiled Women" series. Photo: Lucy Rees   

"Veiled Women" series. Photo: Lucy Rees

 

In the above “Transformation” panels, Nabil asked performance artist Marina Abramovich and actress  Idasabelle Huppert too act out their interpretation of what the artist is feeling. Photo: Lucy Rees. 

In the above “Transformation” panels, Nabil asked performance artist Marina Abramovich and actress  Idasabelle Huppert too act out their interpretation of what the artist is feeling. Photo: Lucy Rees. 

Exhibition : 13 Rooms

Sydney

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Curated by Klaus Biesenbach and Hans Ulrich Obrist, “13 Rooms” opened in Sydney on April 11.

The first two iterations, “11 Rooms” and “12 Rooms,” took place in Manchester (2011) and Essen (2012). Brought to Australia by Kaldor Public Art Projects (KPAP), it is the first time the project stands alone rather than as an annex to a larger festival. Entering Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay, visitors are invited to open the door and enter the thirteen purpose-built rooms and experience living, breathing artists.

Hans Ulrich Obrist says: “The exhibition is like a sculpture gallery where all the sculptures go home at night.” Klaus Biesenbach explained the rules of the game at a press conference in Sydney: “You enter a room. There’s a sculpture. They are living people. But they are not the artists.” He adds, “It’s a simple rule and it seems easy, but it was actually very difficult. To come up with a rule like this meant that we needed to eliminate many others. Hans Ulrich and I had a conversation every day for 200 days.”

Twelve major international artists have created rooms: Marina Abramović, John Baldessari, Joan Jonas, Damien Hirst, Tino Sehgal, artist duo Allora and Calzadilla, Simon Fujiwara, Xavier Le Roy, Laura Lima, Roman Ondák, Santiago Sierra and Xu Zhen. Australian artist duo Clark Beaumont have created the thirteenth room and will be the only artists to personally perform their work, entitled Coexisting. More than 140 local Australian performers will participate in “13 Rooms.”

Kaldor Public Art Projects presents major public artworks by acclaimed international artists in sites across Australia. Art patron John Kaldor says: “We work with important artists who work in museums all the time. Working in a public space provides a challenge to them. It also connects the artists to Australia, which is part of our mission. We don’t just pick up a show and plonk it down. Allora and Calzadilla’s revolving door, for example, is completely different from what they showed in Manchester.” Obrist adds: “Yes, it’s not a fly-in-fly-out mentality.”

“For us it’s been hard to limit ourselves to only thirteen rooms and thirteen artists. John had to hold us back; if it wasn’t for John we probably would’ve had seventy or eighty rooms... But that said, we don’t want to encourage artists to take on this sort of work if it’s not already present. We don’t want to be instrumentalizing practice. Obviously there are many artists who could potentially work in this way, but we want to find those already involved. Curating always comes after the art — we follow the artists.” - Hans Ulrich Obrist 

So where will it be next year? Hans Ulrich Obrist says there is talk of Switzerland for 2014, and then maybe Asia in 2016.

The project runs for eleven days, from April 11 through 21, 2013, at Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay, Sydney.

Exhibition : 7th Asia Pacific Triennial

Brisbane, Australia

Asia Pacific Triennial lucy rees

The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) is the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s flagship contemporary art event. It is the only major exhibition series to focus exclusively on the contemporary art of Asia, the Pacific and Australia.

APT7 in 2012-13 celebrates the 20th anniversary of the first APT held in 1993. 

The APT is distinguished from other international art biennales and triennales by its extensive acquisition program and focus on commissioning the artists to produce new works. For this edition, 51 artworks were commissioned, and 24 of those are now in the collection, including Huang Yong Ping’s Ressort (2012) and Atul Dodiya’s Somersault in sandalwood sky (2012).

We have really been pushing hard for commissions since the late ’90s, which is a very unusual thing for museums to do, as it’s risky.
— Suhanya Raffel, acting director

Over the years they have commissioned major pieces such as Cai Guo-Qiang’s gunpowder drawings in 1996, Yayoi Kusama’s Soul under the moon (2002), Ai Weiwei’s Boomerang (2006) and Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s Lightning for Neda (2009). 

This year sees two co-curated projects that explore specific focuses. Works from Papua New Guinea include a group of performance masks and painted and carved structures from New Britain and the Sepik, co-curated by architect Martin Fowler. '0 – Now: Traversing West Asia' displays work by seven artists and collectives from the Middle East and Central Asia, and is co-curated by Istanbul-based November Paynter. 

Runs from 8 December 2012 —  14 April 2013 at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) and Queensland Art Gallery (QAG). 

Profile : Punta della Dogana

Venice

The Punta della Dogana is an extraordinary building that sits on the corner of the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal in Venice. Originally the customs house of the city in the 15th century, it now houses the collection of Francois Pinault. 

In 2006 the city of Venice launched a contest for the creation of a centre for contemporary art at Punta della Dogana. Palazzo Grassi, under the direction of Jean-Jacques Aillagon, was a candidate in competition with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Palazzo Grassi won a partnership with the building for 33 years. Acclaimed Japanese architect Tadao Ando was selected  to design the space and after two years of restoration the new space opened in 2009 with the debut exhibition “Mapping the Studio: Artists from the François Pinault Collection”.  

When I was living in Venice in 2010 doing an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection this museum was my favourite to visit on days off. It invokes an immediate sense of calm upon entering, created by the cool polished concrete, clean lines, and low window openings to the soft green water of the canal outside. 

Punta della Dogana from above 

Punta della Dogana from above 

Interior. 

Interior. 

Installation view  

Installation view  

Installation view of the most current exhibition 'Prima Materia' which ended December 2013.   This neon work by Italian artist  Mario Merz  was created betweem 1982 and 1989. The english translation is 'If the form disappears, its root will be eternal'. 

Installation view of the most current exhibition 'Prima Materia' which ended December 2013. 

This neon work by Italian artist Mario Merz was created betweem 1982 and 1989. The english translation is 'If the form disappears, its root will be eternal'. 

Roni Horn, Well and Truly, 2009-2010. Solid cast glass with as-cast surfaces on all sides, 10 parts each 45.5 x91.5 cm. 

This work was part of an exhibition 'In Praise of Doubt' in 2011. 

The lowness of this room and the semicircular windows reflect both the light of the sky and its reflection on the water of the sea.  The round forms change colour during the day in perfect harmony with these external elements. 

Maurizio Cattelan.  All, 2008. 9 sculptures, white Carrara marble “P”. Install view at 'In Praise of Doubt' 2011. 

Maurizio Cattelan. All, 2008. 9 sculptures, white Carrara marble “P”. Install view at 'In Praise of Doubt' 2011. 

Donald Judd,  Untitled, 1989. Plywood, each 50 x 100 x 50 cm. Courtesy Froehlich Collection, Stuttgart. © ART © Judd Foundation, by SIAE 2011 © Palazzo Grassi. Install view, 'In Praise of Doubt' 2011. 

Donald Judd, Untitled, 1989. Plywood, each 50 x 100 x 50 cm. Courtesy Froehlich Collection, Stuttgart. © ART © Judd Foundation, by SIAE 2011 © Palazzo Grassi. Install view, 'In Praise of Doubt' 2011. 

Korean artist Lee Ufan's work "Relatum (formerly Phenomena and Perception B ) 1968/1969/2012. Install view at ''Prima Materia'. 

Zeng Fanzhi , This Land so rich in Beauty no.1'  2010

Zeng Fanzhi, This Land so rich in Beauty no.1'  2010

Sturtevant, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, AMERICA AMERICA, 2004. Light bulbs, rubber light sockets and cords, dimensions variable. Install view 'In Praise of Doubt' 2011. 

Sturtevant, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, AMERICA AMERICA, 2004. Light bulbs, rubber light sockets and cords, dimensions variable. Install view 'In Praise of Doubt' 2011. 

Kishio Suga, 'Gap of the Entrance to the Space', 1979/2012. Install view 'Prima Materia' 2013. 

Kishio Suga, 'Gap of the Entrance to the Space', 1979/2012. Install view 'Prima Materia' 2013. 

For more information visit the museum's website here 

Read about François Pinault here 

 

News: Imran Qureshi wins Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year 2013

Berlin

Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi (b.1972) was recently announced the winner of the award in Berlin, where his works will be shown in a major solo presentation at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in spring 2013. The award is based on recommendations of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council, which includes internationally renowned curators Okwui Enwezor, Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann, and Victoria Noorthoorn and honors artists whose work “addresses social issues in an individual way and has created an outstanding oeuvre that concentrates on the two focal points of the Deutsche Bank Collection: works on paper and photography." Previous winners include Wangechi Mutu in 2010, Yto Barrada in 2011, and Roman Ondák in 2012.

Born 1972, Hyderabad, Sindh; lives and works in Lahore. Trained in miniature painting, Qureshi works from the motifs, symbolism, and ornaments of the Moghul tradition that flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries in the north of the Indian subcontinent. In fact, Qureshi is an assistant professor of miniature art at  Department of Fine Art, National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan.

His works have been shown in solo and group exhibitions and collected across Japan, India, the UK, the US, Australia and Pakistan.

He created large scale installations at the Asia Society Museum in New York ("Modern Enlightenment" series in "Hanging Fire Contemporary Art from Pakistan" September 2009 - January 2010).

Read my interview with Imran Qureshi in Flash Art International here.

On the Ground : Gwangju Biennale, 2013

Gwangju Korea

7 September – 11 November 2012

Roundtable 

Founded in 1995 by Yongwoo Lee in memory of the civil uprising of the 1980 repression of the Gwangju Democratization Movement, the Gwangju Biennale is Asia’s oldest biennial of contemporary art.

This 9th edition ROUNDTABLE is curated by a group of six Asian women: Sunjung Kim, Mami Kataoka, Carol Yinghua Lu, Nancy Adajania, Wassan Al-Khudhairi, and Alia Swastika. Derived from their working method method of being geographically distant, the theme is intended as a non-hierarchal exchange concerning global cultural production and is articulated by the following six subthemes: Logging In and Out of Collectivity / Re-visiting History / Transient Encounters / Intimacy, Autonomy and Anonymity / Back to the Individual Experience / Impact of Mobility on Space and Time. 

All photos © Lucy Rees  

Read my interview with the curators here

On the Ground : dOCUMENTA(13)

The opening days of dOCUMENTA(13). Kassel,  9 June - 16 September 2012

 

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Participating artist Ryan Gander and his dealers from Lisson Gallery at the Absolut Art Bureau cocktail party to celebrate their collaboration with dOCUMENTA13. Thursday June 9.  © Lucy Rees 

View from above the Rotunda in the Fridericianum. © Lucy Rees 

View from above the Rotunda in the Fridericianum. © Lucy Rees 

Alighiero Boetti.   Mappa.  1971. Embroided Tapestry. Made in Afghanistan. 147 x 228 cm. Fridericianum. © Lucy Rees 

Alighiero Boetti. Mappa. 1971. Embroided Tapestry. Made in Afghanistan. 147 x 228 cm. Fridericianum. © Lucy Rees 

Fabio Mauri.   Forse L’arte non e’ autonomia . Doormat cuts. 200 x 420 cm. Fridericianum. © Lucy Rees 

Fabio Mauri. Forse L’arte non e’ autonomia. Doormat cuts. 200 x 420 cm. Fridericianum. © Lucy Rees 

Giuseppe Penone    .  Idea di Petree. (Ideas of Stone)  . Bronze and Stone. 2008/2010/2012.  © Lucy Rees 

Giuseppe Penone. Idea di Petree. (Ideas of Stone). Bronze and Stone. 2008/2010/2012. © Lucy Rees 

View of the Orangerie, where considerations around mapping and questions of time space and experience are explored. Artists include Tarek Atoui, Erkki Kurenniemi, Anri Sala, Jeronimo Voss, Ryan Gander, Susan Hiller, David Link, Mika Taanila and Konrad Zuse. © Lucy Rees 

View of the Orangerie, where considerations around mapping and questions of time space and experience are explored. Artists include Tarek Atoui, Erkki Kurenniemi, Anri Sala, Jeronimo Voss, Ryan Gander, Susan Hiller, David Link, Mika Taanila and Konrad Zuse. © Lucy Rees 

This white sculpture, several meters high, was designed by the Thai artists Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chai Siri. "The ghost followed us from Thailand to Kassel. Thanks to the sculpture, we recall the victims of political violence in Thailand" commented Weerasethakul. © Lucy Rees 

This white sculpture, several meters high, was designed by the Thai artists Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chai Siri. "The ghost followed us from Thailand to Kassel. Thanks to the sculpture, we recall the victims of political violence in Thailand" commented Weerasethakul. © Lucy Rees 

Mathias Ardnt, director of  Ardnt Gallery  in Berlin and Lilly Wei of  Art in America,  New York. Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney cocktail party. Il Convento. Friday June 8.  © Lucy Rees 

Mathias Ardnt, director of Ardnt Gallery in Berlin and Lilly Wei of Art in America, New York. Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney cocktail party. Il Convento. Friday June 8.  © Lucy Rees 

Lucy Rees, Lilly Wei of Art in America, and Ann Strauss, associate curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the  Metropolitan Museum of Art,  New York. © Lucy Rees 

Lucy Rees, Lilly Wei of Art in America, and Ann Strauss, associate curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. © Lucy Rees 

Mark Hughes, former director of Gallery Lelong New York, and Ann Strauss curator of Modern and Contemporary Art from the MET, © Lucy Rees 

Mark Hughes, former director of Gallery Lelong New York, and Ann Strauss curator of Modern and Contemporary Art from the MET, © Lucy Rees 

Stuart Ringholt,  Anger Workshops.  Neue Galerie. During the workshops visitors are offered the opportunity to express their anger using voice and movement to the sound of loud house music for five minutes before then embracing other members of the group. The room is closed to the public, although the sound of the workshops can be heard outside its walls. © Lucy Rees    

Stuart Ringholt, Anger Workshops. Neue Galerie. During the workshops visitors are offered the opportunity to express their anger using voice and movement to the sound of loud house music for five minutes before then embracing other members of the group. The room is closed to the public, although the sound of the workshops can be heard outside its walls. © Lucy Rees 

 

Geoffery Farmer.  Leaves of Grass  (2012) consists of hundreds of shadow puppets that have been fabricated from photographs cut out from Life, the classic American news magazine. © Lucy Rees 

Geoffery Farmer. Leaves of Grass (2012) consists of hundreds of shadow puppets that have been fabricated from photographs cut out from Life, the classic American news magazine. © Lucy Rees 

Theaster Gate’s site specific work, activating as a venue and permanent sculpture for Kassel in the dilapidated Huguenot House, built in 1826, resulting in a lived in laboratory. 1 2 ballads for the Huguenot House,  (2012). © Lucy Rees 

Theaster Gate’s site specific work, activating as a venue and permanent sculpture for Kassel in the dilapidated Huguenot House, built in 1826, resulting in a lived in laboratory. 12 ballads for the Huguenot House, (2012). © Lucy Rees 

Theaster Gate. Room detail in 12 ballads for the Huguenot House, (2012). © Lucy Rees 

Theaster Gate. Room detail in 12 ballads for the Huguenot House, (2012). © Lucy Rees 

Garden outside Theaster Gate’s work, leading to Tino Sehgal’s piece. © Lucy Rees    

Garden outside Theaster Gate’s work, leading to Tino Sehgal’s piece. © Lucy Rees 

 

Ground floor at Ottoneaum, where artworks and projects surround the question of seeds, and making the earth, life, food, art, stories, intra action and worldliness. © Lucy Rees    

Ground floor at Ottoneaum, where artworks and projects surround the question of seeds, and making the earth, life, food, art, stories, intra action and worldliness. © Lucy Rees 

 

Yan Lei.  Limited Art Project  (2011 – 2012), in the Documenta Halle. 360 works all sourced from internet searches are arranged on the ceilings, walls, and in storage shelves. © Lucy Rees 

Yan Lei. Limited Art Project (2011 – 2012), in the Documenta Halle. 360 works all sourced from internet searches are arranged on the ceilings, walls, and in storage shelves. © Lucy Rees 

© Lucy Rees 

© Lucy Rees 

Lara Favaretto.  Momentary Monument IV (Kassel)  (2012). © Lucy Rees 

Lara Favaretto. Momentary Monument IV (Kassel) (2012). © Lucy Rees 

Haegue Yang developed a new installation inspired by the architecture of a depot next to the Hauptbahnoff, Kassel’s former central train station. It consists of motorized venetian blinds performing a mechanical action. © Lucy Rees 

Haegue Yang developed a new installation inspired by the architecture of a depot next to the Hauptbahnoff, Kassel’s former central train station. It consists of motorized venetian blinds performing a mechanical action. © Lucy Rees 

dOCUMENTA 13 director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev giving a talk in the Sahwari Tent Cooperative, 2012.  The Art of Sahrawi Cooking  (2012) is a solitary ceremonial desert tent stitched by women from Western Sahara, prisoners in their own territory.  © Lucy Rees    

dOCUMENTA 13 director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev giving a talk in the Sahwari Tent Cooperative, 2012. The Art of Sahrawi Cooking (2012) is a solitary ceremonial desert tent stitched by women from Western Sahara, prisoners in their own territory.  © Lucy Rees