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  • May 17, 2024

Weekly News Roundup: May 17, 2024

Left to right: MIN-HYUNG KANG and ELLEN LARSON. Courtesy the Asia Foundation.

Asia Foundation Announces 2024 Fellows

On May 13, the Asia Foundation and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco announced that South Korean artist Min-hyung Kang and American curator Ellen Larson are the 2024 Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellows in Asian Art, awarding both with a three-month residency at the museum and a USD 10,000 research grant. The curators were selected based off their contributions to their respective fields: Kang’s experience spans working as a curator, translator, interpreter, and artist in Korea, along with founding the decentralized Gwangju-based community art space Barim. Larson is a postdoctoral researcher at University of Chicago with a PhD on contemporary Chinese video art, and she curates in both China and the United States. Established by the Asia Foundation’s president emeritus ambassador Haydn Williams, the fellowship awards two early-career contemporary art curators biennially. This year, at the Asian Art Museum’s Practice Institute, Larson will support the contemporary art department’s development of criteria for presenting new practices, while Kang will work with visionary game designer Jenova Chen on a major exhibition focused on interactive experiences.

VINCENT NAMATJIRA, Australia in Colour, 2021, acrylic on linen. Courtesy the artist and National Gallery of Australia.

Australian Billionaire Requests Portrait Removal 

On May 15, the Australian mining billionaire Gina Rinehart demanded that her portrait, painted by Western Aranda artist Vincent Namatjira, be taken down from his current solo exhibition “Australia in Colour” at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA). Rinehart has not explicitly stated the reason for the request, but several news outlets such as The Guardian candidly described the acrylic painting as “unflattering.” The billionaire put forth her demand directly to NGA director Nick Mitzevich and NGA chair Ryan Stokes in April. Soon after, the gallery received dozens of complaints about the work from associates of Rinehart’s mining company, Hancock Prospecting. NGA ultimately refused to take down the portrait, stating that it seeks to “present works of art to the Australian public to inspire people to explore, experience and learn about art.” Namatjira has also responded that “people don’t have to like [his] paintings,” but he hopes the public will “look beneath the surface.”

Exterior of Koon Man Space in Chuen Lung Village, Tsuen Wan. Courtesy Hong Kong International Photo Festival.

New Hong Kong Photography Space Opens in Tseun Wan

Located in Tsuen Wan’s Chuen Lung Village, Hong Kong’s new contemporary photography space Koon Man Space opened on May 9. Its inaugural exhibition runs from May 10 to August 4, displaying works by local artists Ki Wong and Pak Chai that narrate the stories of Chuen Lung villagers. Supported by the “Funding Scheme to Support the Use of Vacant Government Sites by Non-government Organisations” from the Development Bureau, Koon Man Space is located at the former Koon Man School, which has been renovated after six decades and rented to the space for a short term basis. Koon Man aims to be a community-oriented and accessible art and photography hub with a focus on the culture of the village. Under the initiative of the Hong Kong International Photo Festival and the operation of the Hong Kong Photographic Culture Association, Koon Man Space will present a series of exhibitions and public events, including a Photography Salon, the Chuen Lung Ecology Research Residency and Guide Training Programme, a Photobook Corner, and more.

Portrait of MOHAMMAD RASOULOF. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Renowned Iranian Filmmaker Flees to Europe

Following his unprecedented sentence in early May, Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof is reported to have fled to an undisclosed location in Europe. According to a statement by his lawyers on May 8, Rasoulof was condemned to eight years in prison, as well as flogging, a fine, and the confiscation of property for creating films and documentaries that “are examples of collusion with the intention of committing a crime against the country’s security.” Rasoulof shared a video on Instagram of him crossing the country’s mountainous border, and in the caption he described the Iranian state as a “tyrannical and oppressive regime.” He further stated: “If geographical Iran suffers beneath the boots of your religious tyranny, cultural Iran is alive in the common minds of millions of Iranians who were forced to leave Iran due to your brutality and no power can impose its will on it.” It is still not clear whether Rasoulof will be able to attend the premiere of his latest film The Seed of the Sacred Fig (2024), which is set to debut at the Cannes Film Festival this May.  

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