The expansion of contemporary art in Asia is leading to the proliferation of art events, including a demanding schedule of biennales and art fairs, and consequent increased travel among the region’s centres of artistic productivity and exhibition. In Hong Kong, where people are regularly on the move, it’s easy to miss even local exhibits. As one antidote to ‘biennialisation’, imagine instead finding all the regional exhibitions organized in one place – this is the possibility of the collection of exhibition catalogues at the Asia Art Archive.
The exhibition catalogues at AAA form a microcosm of the regional art world. Like the art world itself, they are organized by place and event. The collection includes catalogues of one-time exhibitions as well as biennales. The exhibition catalogues are also organized in two sizes: catalogues in a range of regular formats and a separate section of small catalogues. Large or small, the catalogues are intriguing, and span the Asian region.
Those beginning with the call letters EX.HGK and EXS.HGK indicate a Hong Kong exhibit, and the titles pop out from the shelf. Transient Creatures is the 2008 catalogue for the Microwave International New Media Arts Festival, the 12th year of a Hong Kong-originated event, whose theme “boldly questions our existence…as living beings” in an era of virtual worlds.
If Hong Kong, A Woman / Traveller documents an exhibit and scholarly exchange at Hong Kong independent art spaces 1a space and Artist Commune in 2005.
Comparing titles in the Hong Kong section also yields representations of two major streams of artistic production in the city, namely contemporary art in multiple media and modern ink painting, including the catalogues of the four 2008-09 ‘Hong Kong Art: Open Dialogue’ exhibitions – 'Digit@logue', 'New Ink Art: Innovation and Beyond', 'Looking for Antonio Mak' and 'Charming Experience'.
The AAA collection of Hong Kong exhibition catalogues is found nowhere else, drawing researchers from around the world. A few years ago, when I first started working with AAA materials, the small catalogues were stored in archival storage boxes, on the shelf yet nevertheless out of sight. Now, they are free standing on the shelf, and their interesting mix of sizes, shapes and designs invites patrons to explore. Exploring the archive also leads to the discovery of interrelated unique materials. If the interest is biennales, the AAA-developed online archive, ‘All You Want to Know about International Art Biennales’, provides an unprecedented array of research information about their history and proliferation.
The French philosopher Alain Badiou’s, Being and Event, examines core humanistic issues between ‘being’, or the contexts of ontology, and places of the event – as ruptures in the ontological where we attain realization. From this frame, we can think of exhibitions as those emplaced events where new perspectives and ways of seeing emerge for an attentive public. Yet if we missed the show, or are intent on studying its broader meanings, the Archive serves as the singular site for re/viewing the exhibition.
Carolyn Cartier is Professor of Human Geography and China Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.
- Collection Spotlight
- Fri, 1 Oct 2010