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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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Thukral and Tagra Ocula Conversation Thukral and Tagra

Over the past 15 years, Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra have developed a collaborative practice of painting, sculpture, design, installation, interactive games, and experimental participatory exercises. Their work spans a range of interests and subject matter: from their early explorations into globalised consumer culture and diasporic Indian...

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Renee So Ocula Conversation Renee So

Renee So's first institutional solo exhibition in Europe, Bellarmines and Bootlegs (8 March–2 June 2019) at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, centres on a long-standing motif in her work: the eponymous Bellarmine—a domestic jug used in the Rhineland in the 16th and 17th centuries to carry wine and beer from barrel to table. Following its...

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Johnson Chang Ocula Conversation Johnson Chang

Johnson Chang, gallerist and curator, is a pioneer of the Hong Kong art scene. Through the establishment of Hanart TZ Gallery in 1983, Chang created a platform for new art from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, redefining the market with his organisation of China's New Art, Post-1989, held at the Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1993. Over 200 works by...

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Ben Brown Ocula Conversation Ben Brown

After years of repetitive reference to Hong Kong as a 'cultural desert', the arrival of the city's first contemporary art fair between 14 and 18 May 2008, Art HK 08, under the direction of Magnus Renfrew, marked a new turn. Sales turnover for Sotheby's in Hong Kong grew from USD 88 million in 2000, to USD 340 million in 2007, situating it as the...

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Firenze Lai Ocula Conversation Firenze Lai

Firenze Lai says that she knows her studio of a few hundred square feet intimately; from the textures of its surfaces to the way the breeze blows into the room. The spaces depicted in her paintings are equally intimate. When curators seem to be at a loss for words to discuss troubled times, fear of containment, and the feeling of being completely...

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Diana Campbell Betancourt Ocula Conversation Diana Campbell Betancourt

Diana Campbell Betancourt is a curator working predominantly across South and Southeast Asia. Since 2013 she has been the founding artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a transnational art event that has grown in size and scale ever since its first edition in 2012. Backed by...

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Matthew Day Jackson Ocula Conversation Matthew Day Jackson

A charred and reflective post-apocalyptic scene looms large in the entrance to Qiao Space in Shanghai. On a sheet of mirror, a cone-shaped architectural structure is etched on the surface, referencing Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Tower of Babel (1563), rising like a utopian Brigadoon out of the ashes of a scorched recomposed landscape. Pieced...

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Nari Ward Ocula Conversation Nari Ward

Nari Ward has witnessed his neighbourhood transform. Harlem, once neglected and teeming with creative energy but rampant with drugs, crime, and wreckage, has become home to organic groceries, high-end cafés, and high-income housing. It is a symptom of many gentrifying neighbourhoods in New York, whereby high-earning populations replace lower-income...

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Xi Bei Ocula Conversation Xi Bei Artistic Director, Times Art Center Berlin

Times Art Center Berlin is a non-profit art institution located in the Potsdamer Strasse Art District of Berlin. It was founded in July 2018 by the Guangdong Times Museum, a non-profit private art museum in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region of China, making this the first parallel institution founded overseas by an Asia-based art museum. Its...

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Ellen Altfest Ocula Conversation Ellen Altfest

The paintings of Ellen Altfest are ethereal in their detail. Fields of minutiae come together as pulsating images; small brushstrokes of oil paint accumulate over a series of months to single out seemingly innocuous subjects, such as a hand resting atop patterned fabric (The Hand, 2011) or a deep green cactus reaching upwards from beneath a bed of...

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Maryam Jafri Ocula Conversation Maryam Jafri

Maryam Jafri's series 'Product Recall: An Index of Innovation' (2014–2015) will be shown for the first time in its entirety in the United States at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, between 10 February and 23 June 2019. The exhibition's title, I Drank the Kool-Aid But I Didn't Inhale, references Bill Clinton's admission to (not fully)...

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Bob Monk Ocula Conversation Bob Monk

Born in 1923 to European immigrants in Washington D.C., Richard Artschwager is a sculptor and painter known for his enigmatic and idiosyncratic style that straddles various movements, yet belongs to none. He studied biology and mathematics at Cornell University and, after a stint in the army in World War II, pursued art as an interest while...

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Xiao Lu Ocula Conversation
In partnership with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
Xiao Lu

In the hot heat of the moment, history is sometimes only recorded in snippets. In the flurry to understand, information is conflated, building a historical account that never quite captures the reality of the moment. In 1989, Chinese artist Xiao Lu fired a handgun into her installation Dialogue displayed in the China/Avant-Garde exhibition, the...

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Ellen Pau Ocula Conversation Ellen Pau Artist

A radiographer by training, Ellen Pau is a self-taught artist who emerged from Hong Kong's fledgling contemporary art scene of the late 1980s, when video was a comparatively nascent medium. In 1986, Pau co-founded Videotage—a non-profit organisation that specialises in the promotion and preservation of video and new media art. Pau has an...

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Magnus Renfrew Ocula Conversation Magnus Renfrew

Magnus Renfrew has twice been named by ArtReview as one of the 100 most influential figures in the international art world. In 2008, he came to prominence in Asia's art world and within the wider global scene when he was appointed founding director of Art HK. The fair was subsequently acquired by MCH Group and re-branded in 2013 under Renfrew's...

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Victoria Sin Ocula Conversation Victoria Sin

If a multiplicity of being can be truly embodied, Victoria Sin comes close. Sin's practice spans performance, moving image and writing, with the artist adopting personas in their work that are multiple, and thematics that are intersectional. With a master's in Print from the Royal College of Art, a programme that examines the digital circulation of...

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Christine Tohmé Ocula Conversation Christine Tohmé Curator and founding director, Ashkal Alwan

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Ashkal Alwan – The Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts. Since then, the Association has been central in shaping the cultural and artistic landscape of Beirut, fostering and supporting the work of local and regional artists, and facilitating and organising important artistic productions and exhibitions...

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