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Mar 05 2021

New Developments: Friday News Roundup

by The Editors

Seoul’s Korean International Art Fair (KIAF) is contemplating its expansion to Singapore. Image via Facebook.

Two months into the ever hopeful 2021, activities are picking up across the world and among cultural spheres. Numerous art institutions have announced new initiatives or plans during the past week. Here is a look at some of these updates as well as other news.

South Korean Fair Plans Singaporean Expansion

Korean International Art Fair (KIAF), South Korea’s primary art fair, is considering expanding to Singapore to coincide with the city-state’s yet-to-launch Art SG, whose inaugural fair was recently delayed for the fourth time to January 2022. Reported by Korea JoongAn Daily on March 1, the new head of the Galleries Association of Korea, Hwang Dal-seung, also shared that the organization is still in the talks with Frieze Art Fair to invite the international fair to run concurrently with KIAF in Seoul. News of Frieze’s potential Asian edition was first published last September, amid speculations that such a partnership was slated for 2022. 

Portrait of TIANLONG JIAO. Courtesy West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Palace Museum Hong Kong Appoints Head Curator

On March 3, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority announced Tianlong Jiao as head curator of its Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM), slated to open in 2022. Jiao will oversee the museum’s collection, exhibitions, and publications, as well as advance HKPM’s vision in promoting Chinese art and culture with a Hong Kong perspective. Educated at Peking University and Harvard University,  Jiao is returning to the city from the United States, where he was the Joseph de Heer Curator of Asian Art at Denver Art Museum since 2015, curator of Chinese Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco from 2014–15, and chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Bishop Museum in Honolulu from 2003–2013. He was in Hong Kong from 2013–14 as the chief curator of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum.

From left, KENSUKE SEMBO and YAE AKAIWA of art duo EXONEMO. Photo by Niko. Courtesy the artists.

New York Art Duo wins Obayashi Foundation Research Program Grant

Obayashi Foundation named New York-based experimental art duo exonemo as the winner of its Urban Vision-Obayashi Foundation Research Program on March 2. The third recipient of this biennial grant, which funds projects related to cities, the duo is credited with an unique digital outlook that the Foundation hopes will help expand its focus on urban development amid Covid-19. A forerunner in web-based practices since 1996, exonemo members Kensuke Sembo and Yae Akaiwa facilitate dialogues between the online and physical realms via installations and performances. Previous recipients include artists Theaster Gates and Aida Makoto in 2019 and 2017, respectively. Details of exonemo’s project have yet to be released.

A portrait of RYU SUNG-SIL. Courtesy the artist.

Social Issues-Focused Artist Wins Hermès Foundation Missulsang

On March 2, Seoul-based multimedia artist Ryu Sung-sil was announced the laureate of the 19th Hermès Foundation Missulsang, which recognizes and supports emerging Korean artists. Ryu was awarded for her diverse practice, which melds contemporary socio-political issues in Korea with that of her family’s history as well as traditional culture via mediums such as video, sculpture, and installation. Launched in 2000 by Hermès Korea, the biannual award includes a KRW 20 million (USD 17,800) cash prize for the creation of new works to be exhibited at Seoul’s Atelier Hermès gallery in the following year. Ryu obtained a graduate degree in sculpture at Seoul National University this year.

An interior view of restaurant Jing Fong, New York. Image via Facebook.

New York Arts Community Try to Save Iconic Chinatown Restaurant

Members of New York’s arts community, led by the Chinatown Art Brigade (CAB) for Asian diasporic artists, rallied among 200 supporters on March 2 to fight against the permanent closure of the historic restaurant Jing Fong. Gathering outside Eastbank, which is owned by the restaurant landlord, financier Jonathan Chu, and his family, CAB joined the 318 Restaurant Workers Union in condemning the landlords and their “luxury gentrification projects” with “a history of union busting.” In operation at its current location since 1993, the 800-seating banquet hall has been a buzzing center for local cultural and fundraising events, such as those held by nonprofit art organization Creative Time. The restaurant announced via a Facebook post on February 20 that it will be shutting down on March 7 due to financial pressures.

The Juukan Gorge site in Australia that was destroyed by Rio Tinto in May 2020. Image via Twitter.

Rio Tinto Chairman Quits Over Damaged Aboriginal Site

On March 3, Simon Thompson announced his resignation as chairman of multinational mining conglomerate Rio Tinto (RT) after the company triggered anger and grief from the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura peoples as well as the wider public for its destruction of two sacred 46,000-year-old Aboriginal rock shelters in Western Australia’s Pilbara region in May 2020. RT attempted to extract USD 135 million worth of high-grade iron ore from the shelters last year after a 2014 excavation found ethnographically and culturally significant artefacts at the site. A parliamentary inquiry into the destruction has recommended that RT pay restitution, including reconstructing the damaged shelters and a permanent ban on mining in the area. The full report is due later this year.

An exterior view of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Image via Facebook.

Matthew Wong paintings donated to key New York institutions

Monita and Raymond Wong, parents of the late Canadian-Chinese artist Matthew Wong (1984–2019), have donated his oil painting, Unknown Pleasures (2019), to the Museum of Modern Art in his memory, according to Artnet News on February 26. Depicting a cool-toned, idyllic pastoral landscape, the canvas was featured in Wong’s posthumous solo exhibition, “Blue,” at New York’s Karma Gallery in 2019. Last year, Wong’s parents donated another painting, Garden with Cosmic Vase (2016), to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A departure from his signature oils, the ink work draws parallels to the artistic tradition of Hong Kong, where he lived throughout his adolescent years. A budding self-taught artist before his suicidal death, Wong’s works first appeared at auctions in early 2020, and have quickly become highly sought after with records in the millions.

The unveiling ceremony for the donation of a YAYOI KUSAMA sculpture at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. Courtesy Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.

Yayoi Kusama Sculpture Installed in Singapore’s Urban Park

Singapore- and London-based art collector Tuan Lee has donated a 2.6 meter-tall sculpture by multidisciplinary artist Yayoi Kusama to Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, the 110-hectare nature park at the city’s center. Unveiled in the garden’s Flower Dome greenhouse on March 1, the work, titled Kei-Chan (2011), depicts a larger-than-life cartoon girl covered in Kusama’s signature polka-dots with blue pigtails and a red frilly dress. Since 2015, 81-year-old Lee has donated around 100 artworks from her collection of contemporary art and jewelry to institutions such as Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and London’s Royal Academy of Arts. 

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