My concern regarding the categories was focused on the bases of what people could understand or access, and it was related to a certain kind of art making method. For example, action is a physical movement, a status of a gesture or a state of mind. In this regard, I wanted to bring communicate and share things in a simple way so that other questions might be triggered between the categories of the programme, while also reflecting on media or video art. More than any other time in history, trying to make things more precise has become more and more complicated, and we need more abstract words to describe the world so that we might also enter into the ambiguity of situations and understand things from different aspects or contexts. For the audience, categories should not be barriers to understanding or of imagination.
I like things to appear by themselves, so the categories and the artworks selected this year emerged as things would emerge in nature – the choices grew from and in the public, and in general, I feel more like the green-fingered helper who makes the works more visible. Sure, curating is always related to certain experiences or contexts, such as one’s culture and society. But it also comes from the complexity of our world, the reality of our time and from the virtual. Reflecting on that, the film programme might be a recall of a get together: In reality, I care more about what makes people get together. This is the art of the project. It is also about what is needed now in our rapidly changing lives. To this end, I conceived of the programme also as a space or cave to hide.
Independency shall always remain in individual choices, no matter if they were made with or without money, with or without power, or with or without a location. I do believe curating is an independent practice that helps to present things that people might know in a different narrative, and most of time curating can invent moments of an in between: a space for everyone in an equal situation. The challenge for me with this programme was the question of why people would come to the show during Art Basel in Hong Kong, and how would this be interesting for the people of Hong Kong? Apart from the art fair, without a Hong Kong audience, the programme would make no sense for me. I do hope the project is a middle ground between the art fair and the art world, and a way for both to meet with the public in Hong Kong. The programme is free, after all.
This idea is what is hinted at throughout the film programme, and you can see it in the work from Chimpom or Roman Signer in the section called ‘Action’. The aim is to trigger thoughts on the difference between artist participation in society and their artistic practice, which was also the topic for a Salon discussion I moderated on May 15th with Chimpom and Kwan Sheung Chi, which reflected on the idea of social change, which was especially focused on Hong Kong.
My interests have always changed and Laboratory Art Beijing has had different missions over the years. From the beginning, the mission was to focus on gathering people from different fields to work together, and this was followed with a concern in exhibition presentation and curating. Then, it focused on research and interviews in film and media in different cities. Now, the mission is to focus on research and working on artist books and working with artists directly so as to produce knowledge production within society. For me, Laboratory Art Beijing will always change to adapt and keep up to date with art production.
My work after 2000 has been completely focused on film and media art, which might be the reason why I was asked to work on the film programme for Art Basel in Hong Kong. My Laboratory Art Beijing project is more of a research-based institution that helps to better understand what’s going on and what needs to be done with regards to art practice. From the research that we have undertaken in media art, documentary film and geo-politics, and on people who use media art as a political weapon, I have gained a better understanding of the medium and the topic of art and society today. This helped me when thinking about what to present in Hong Kong.
I have been working on the MAAP project in Beijing with Kim Machan and Fan Di’an and Pi Li since 2002, and in this time I have learned a lot by working as project manager and producer of the show. It has also changed my perception of media art till now, and has brought me closer to the creation of media art globally. It’s not enough to gain knowledge by thinking alone. It is important to understand things practically and physically as well – to understand things by hand. This might not have anything to do with the Art Basel in Hong Kong and the film programme, but I cannot deny the butterfly effect that MAAP produced: it made a wave that might turn into a storm later. My interest in working in media art is because there are always new things to be discovered, and this happens also when I analyse in individual artist’s creation as well. Looking at media art might change the way we see art and history today. It might allow us to gain a better understanding of others and to share with others.
I am the advisor of the show, which is curated by Conrad Bodman, who curated the show Game On, which I liked very much in that this was a show offering a different analysis of culture in our time, through music, graphic design and game design. Conrad brought fantastic work to the public and the show was a success. So I have to say, I trust in Conrad and I think the Digital Revolution exhibition will go beyond the words “Digital” and “Revolution.” I have a lot of hope for the project. We need newer perceptions of augmented reality, as expressed through art and culture. —[O]