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Apr 09 2021

The World Ahead of Us: Weekly News Roundup

by The Editors

Installation view of DALE CHIHULY’s Ethereal White Persian Pond, 2018, at Kew Gardens, London, 2019. The work will be displayed at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay in May. Image via Twitter.

Activity is picking up around the globe. While Singapore stages public art exhibitions to boost public spirit in the city-state, others are pursuing new ventures such as the introduction of a new art fair and significantly enlarged gallery spaces. Here is a look at these updates and other news from the past week.

Singapore’s Parks Enlivened by Art

A string of site-specific installations are slated for Singapore’s green spaces as part of two upcoming public art initiatives. From April 9 to June 6, 14 installations by Singapore artists will be displayed across eight parks as part of “Rewritten: The World Ahead of Us,” commissioned by the National Arts Council. Exhibited works include street artist Sam Lo’s Temporary Escapism (2021), a set of signs and murals bearing humorous messages of encouragement at Punggol Waterway Park, as well as Robert Zhao’s durational installation It Takes Time (2021), comprising 11 light boxes documenting the monthly growth of a young tree at Jurong Lake Gardens. On May 1, the iconic Gardens by the Bay will unveil glass sculptor Dale Chihuly’s first major outdoor exhibition in Asia, titled “Glass in Bloom.” More than 100 works will be spread across the site. Highlights include Float Boat (2014), a vessel filled with colorful planetary globes, and Ethereal White Persian Pond (2018), comprising clouded glass lily pads.

A portrait of ARIC CHEN. Photo by Yoha Jin. Courtesy Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam.

New Director at Het Nieuwe Instituut

On April 8, Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Instituut, the institute of architecture, design, and digital culture, announced Aric Chen as its new general and artistic director, effective May 1. Chen succeeds founding director Guus Beumer, who will retire this May. Chen is currently professor and founding director of the Curatorial Lab at the College of Design & Innovation at Shanghai’s Tongji University as well as curatorial director of art fair Design Miami. Previously, he was lead curator at Hong Kong’s M+ museum from 2012 to 2019, where he oversaw the formation of the new museum’s design and architecture team. Currently based in Shanghai, Chen will join Het Nieuwe Instituut remotely on a part-time basis until he relocates to Rotterdam in September. 

An interior view of the private mansion of Cornette de Saint Cyr, Paris. Image via Facebook.

New Parisian Fair for West Asian and North African Art

Beirut Art Fair director Laure d’Hauteville will launch a new Paris showcase titled MENART Fair. The first European fair dedicated to modern and contemporary art from the Middle East and North Africa, MENART 2021 will bring around 20 galleries to the private mansion of the Cornette de Saint Cyr auction house from May 27 to 30.

Rendering of the new Toyota City Museum, designed by SHIGERU BAN. Image via Twitter.

City of Toyota Gets New Museum

Aichi prefecture’s city of Toyota is currently building a JPY 8.8 billion (USD 9.1 million) museum, tentatively named Toyota City Museum, which will integrate the current Toyota City Museum of Modern Industry and Living with the Toyota City Museum of Local History, and will be constructed next to the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art. First announced by the city in January, the museum will preserve and exhibit artifacts and archives concerning the city’s history and culture. Designed by Shigeru Ban, the four story, 7,700 square-meter building will feature permanent exhibition spaces as well as storage facilities, a reading room, and meeting halls. Peter Walker has been enlisted as the landscape architect, and the exterior facilities will include an outdoor exhibition area as well as a plaza. The museum is slated to open to the public in 2024.

JONONE’s graffiti artwork at Seoul Arts Center, 2016. Image via Instagram.

Couple Deface Artwork Thinking It is Interactive

On March 28, a young couple unknowingly vandalized a USD 500,000 large-scale abstract painting by American graffiti artist JonOne. Buckets of paint and brushes were placed in front of the piece, leading the pair to mistake it for a participatory artwork. Currently on view at the exhibition “Street Noise,” at P/O/S/T gallery in Seoul’s Lotte World Mall, the artwork was originally painted in front of a live audience at Seoul Arts Center in 2016 and has since been displayed with the used paint cans and brushes. The couple was arrested and later released when the gallery declined to file charges, saying it was “an honest mistake.” However, the couple may be partially liable for restoration costs of up to USD 9,000. The gallery has since placed a wire fence around the artwork with a “Do not touch” sign.

An exterior view of the Bangkok Art & Culture Center during Bangkok Art Biennale 2020. Image via Facebook.

Bangkok’s Largest Public Gallery to Stay Independent

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang has decided that the Bangkok Art & Culture Center (BACC) will remain under the management of its nonprofit foundation for another ten years. Foundation committee member Luckana Kunavichayanont told TimeOut Bangkok that the governor announced the decision after a March 23 meeting with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), which owns the BACC venue. The BMA previously provided over half of the cultural center’s budget, but withdrew its funding in 2018 after its attempt at assuming direct control of BACC was met with strong opposition from many Thai artists and patrons. The parties are still discussing the terms of BACC’s lease extension at the time of writing. Its current contract ends in August. 

TEAMLAB’s interactive installation Ephemeral Solidified Light, 2021, at its newest Tokyo exhibition. Image via Twitter.

teamLab Wants Viewers in a "Sauna Trance”

Interdisciplinary tech-art collective teamLab collaborated with video-sharing platform TikTok to launch “Reconnect: Art with Rinkan Sauna” on March 22 at a temporary venue in Roppongi, Tokyo. Visitors are required to wear swimsuits or designated indoor clothing as they navigate seven saunas of various temperatures featuring teamLab’s interactive digital and light installations, all while donning mandatory face masks. The show is designed to induce a “sauna trance” with “alternating hot and cold baths” to help visitors “experience art in their finest mental state.” Among the displays is Ephemeral Solidified Light (2021), a mirrored room with countless floating, digital light crystals that break when “touched.” The exhibition runs through to August 31.

Exterior view of Le Beige Building, Seoul. Photo by Sangtae Kim. Image via Facebook.

Pace Gallery Ups its Game in Seoul

Mega gallery Pace has just significantly expanded its four-year-old Seoul gallery, moving from its current 86 square-meter space to a two leveled, 790 square-meter exhibition space across the street in Le Beige Building, next to the private Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art. Announced on April 8, the move comes amid increasing market activity in South Korea, including recent discussions of Seoul outposts for Paris’s Centre Pompidou and the international art fair Frieze. Architectural firm Mass Studies, who designed the building, will helm the renovation of Pace’s new gallery. The inaugural exhibition opens on May 27 and will present new works by Sam Gilliam.  The gallery currently holds additional permanent spaces in New York, Palo Alto, Geneva, Hong Kong, and London, which also just upgraded to a gallery space more than twice its original size in November 2020.

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