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  • Mar 19, 2021

Opening Up: Friday News Roundup

The Necessary Stage’s

Cultural events and festivals that were once prevalent have become few and far between over the last year. However, several institutions have gained new traction in recent weeks. Here is a look at some of these initiatives taking place in the coming weeks, along with other updates from the art scenes of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

The Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) announced on March 16 that its annual performing arts event will return this year on May 14–30, marking another major art showcase for the city-state following its recent Singapore Art Week in January. Canceled last year due to Covid-19, SIFA 2021 will feature over 60 live and online shows by international and Singapore artists, including nine commissons such as an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's classic Three Sisters (1900) by Singapore's Nine Years Theatre and New York's Siti Company. Recordings of the performances will be made available on demand in June. Last May, in lieu of a live event, the festival launched online platform SIFA v2.020, comprising virtual talks, performances, and workshops.

Illustration by ISWANTO HARTONO, member of the art collective RUANGRUPA, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Documenta 15, Kassel.

Ahead of its 2022 opening, the Kassel festival documenta fifteen will kick off its public program on April 3, with a seven-part conversation series, titled "lumbung calling." Announced on March 18, the program will feature talks with numerous guests to explore the meaning of lumbung—Indonesian for communal rice barns and the curatorial theme of the 2022 edition—across multiple disciplines. A monthly event every first Saturday until October, the sessions will spotlight different lumbung values of "local anchor," humor, generosity, independence, transparency, sufficiency, and regeneration, and will be conducted online until social distancing measures permit physical events in Kassel. Led by South Jakarta-based artist collective ruangrupa, the 2022 edition is at the moment slated to run from June 18 to September 25.

Portrait of TING CHAONG WEN. Courtesy the artist and

On March 16, installation artist and visual designer Ting Chaong Wen received the inaugural Taoyuan International Art Award from the Taoyuan Museum of Fine Arts (TMoFA), winning a NTD 500,000 (USD 17,620) cash prize. Ting’s video installation Going home (2020) examines the intersection of fact and fiction through the story of the late Taiwanese provincial officer, Chen Hua Zong, and is currently exhibited at TMoFA alongside the works of 16 other finalists. The award succeeds the previous Taoyuan Contemporary Art Award, which was launched in 2001 and limited submissions to Taiwanese artists. The new competition opens up calls to international artists, attracting 600 submissions from artists of 46 countries for its first edition. 

Portrait of XIAOYU WENG. Photo by Alexei Ponomarchuk. Courtesy Xiaoyu Weng.

Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario revealed on March 11 the appointment of Shanghai-born Xiaoyu Weng as its curator of modern and contemporary art, effective this summer. Weng is currently the associate curator of the Robert HN Ho Family Foundation at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, where she has worked since 2015. During her tenure, she curated exhibitions such as “One Hand Clapping” (2018), exploring Chinese art and globalization, and also led the commission of 27 new works for the Foundation’s Chinese Art Initiative. She was a curator of Yekaterinburg’s Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2018–19, and was a founding director of Kadist Art Foundation’s Asia Programs from 2012–15.

LO LAI LAI (right)

On March 13, Hong Kong’s IFVA Award, which has supported pioneering independent short films since 1995, announced the winners of its 26th edition at a presentation ceremony at Hong Kong Art Center. Hong Kong and global talents were spotlit at the event, including artist Lo Lai Lai, who won the gold award in the media art category with her three-channel video installation, Give no words but mum (2020). Documenting the watering routine at the organic farm Sangwoodgoon and exploring different modes of communication in plants, the six-minute long video is the third episode of her ongoing series Slow-so TV (2015– ). Other gold award winners include documentary director Kwok Zune; director Ario Motevaghe; animator Nicboy (Nic Ho); and emerging artist Lee Nim-chung. 

Portrait of

On March 12, Nicole Durling announced her resignation from the role of director of collections and exhibitions at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, effective immediately. Durling will remain as curator for MONA’s upcoming survey for multimedia artist Sally Rees, “Crone,” slated to open on June 18. Durling joined MONA during its AUD 75 million (USD 56 million) renovation in 2006. Upon MONA’s reopening in 2011, she served as senior curator for contemporary Australian art, and artistic curator of the museum’s annual music and arts festival, Foma. She plans to focus on serving as director on the board of Rising, Melbourne’s inaugural international cultural festival, which will launch on May 26. Durling’s replacement at MONA has yet to be announced. 


On March 16, a New York sale of Japanese and Korean art at auction house Christie’s achieved world records for painters Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) and Ito Jakuchu (1716–1800). Hokusai’s famous woodblock print, Under the Well of the Great Wave off Kanagawa (c. 1831), and Jakuchu’s undated hanging scroll, Pair of Cranes and the Rising Sun, both sold for USD 1.59 million each, far surpassing their respective high estimates of USD 200,000 and USD 400,000. Hokusai’s previous record was set in 2002 at Sotheby’s Paris for his book Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (1830–35), which sold for USD 1.47 million, while Jakuchu’s handscroll Suibokuyu (The pleasure of ink) (1764), consigned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, sold for USD 441,600 at Christie’s New York in 2006. 

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