I just finished watching ‘Britain in a Day’, a BBC documentary based on hundreds of hours of footage submitted by the UK public recorded on 12th November 2011. Amazing piece! It got me welled up couple of times. How can you not? Tearful father watching his daughter to marry while both knowing his days are over in couple of weeks, a Gurkha girl sat down at the bus stop crying to lines of poem read by a Gurkha man: “Many remember, many forget but the true story of the Gurkhas, only the lower class people know. Thank you.” She was asked why she was crying: “Because of the poem of that man. The Remembrance Day poem.”http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00kqz5p/Britain_in_a_Day/. [Accessed 12 June 2012]
Someone once said that everything in this world is connected. Here, I might seem to go off topic but the conference I attended @ Tate Modern, according to Marko Daniel, Public Programmes Curator of the gallery, derived from a Curatorial Lab took place during Asia Triennial II in Manchester, UK. Fortunately, I was there at the Triennial working as an interpreter for a fellow Mongolian artist Enkhbold Togmidshiirev. Many thanks to Paulette Brien and Laurence Lane for giving me the opportunity. There, I met many interesting people, one of them was Marko Daniel, an engaging intellectual whom I exchanged my thoughts about the Triennial, ‘Asian’ contemporary art, artists from Asia, their cultural, national identities and relevant issues.
Fast forward 9 months on, Marko Daniel in collaboration with Chinese Art Centre (Manchester, UK), the Centre for Contemporary East Asian Cultural Studies at the University of Nottingham and the Uiniversity of York, had organised this one-day conference titled ‘Current Research into East Asian Visual Culture’.
I had a such a great day at the conference. A great of mix of artists, curators and arts practitioners presented their papers throughout the day and 3 blocks of 4 presentations followed by panel discussions chaired by Sally Lai, Michael White and Wenny Teo. See below for the list of papers presented:
Chae Jung-Gyun, Going East: Abstract Expressionism from a Korean Perspective
Beccy Kennedy, Translocating Positions: Korean Artists Working in Britain
Yao Yung-Wen, China’s cultural diplomacy: A case study on the Chinese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Yujin Min, An introduction to Korean Diaspora Writing: A critical reading of ‘Point, Lines, Encounters: The World According to Lee Ufan’ by Joan Kee.
Ros Holmes, Paper dreams: Visualizing ‘civility’ in Contemporary China
Jing Meng, The Reflexivity of Art: Representation of Red Art in Contemporary Chinese Independent Documentary
Yuen Fong Ling, The Tactical Life Model: Reconfiguring the Chinese Male Body in Performance and Participatory Art Practice
Marco Bohr, Deconstructing Voyeurism in Contemporary Japanese Photography
Kyung An, The ‘Tal’ Syndrome: Korean Artist Collectives in the 1960s and 1970s.
Chou Yu-Ling, Cognition of Isolation: Cartography of the Non-Place in the Films of Chen Chieh-Jen
Wei Yu, Taipei Broken Life: A Case Study of the Taiwanese Avant-Garde in the 1990s
Yujie Zhang, The social impact of art in public space- A Case Study of Shanghai CaoYang Village Public Art Project
I was enriched by Chae Jung-Gyun’s research into Korean abstract art, how it influenced Jackson Pollock’s art and its wider impact on American painting. Through detailed comparisons and observations, Jung-Guyn makes a compelling case. Yujin Min had travelled all the way from Korea to present her paper and it had definitely shed a light on that less known local perspective of local Korean artists as opposed to Korean artists relocated elsewhere. Min concentrated on Lee Ufan, a prominent Korean artist.
Yuen Fong Ling is an artist and academic based in Manchester, UK, delivered a critical paper based on his PhD research. He uses his body or as he referred as ‘Chinese body’ to ‘return the gaze’ by engaging with audience through participatory practice. The feeling of being looked at, stared at or gazed at is a sensation I am very familiar with. I do not know if that’s because I look ‘ethnic’, ‘not from here’ or ‘stranger’ to others. Every artist will react differently to a near similar experience. In the case of Yuen Fong Ling, he is exploring ways to tackle, challenge and contest the seemingly passive act of being gazed at.
Marco Bohr delivered an entertaining presentation on contemporary Japanese photography by taking examples of works by Kohei Yoshiyuki, Nortitoshi Hirakawa and Hisaji Hara. I wasn’t aware of these photographers’ works and I was completely captured by the ambiguity and mystery of those images. What he referred his research as ‘uncovering the act of looking’, directly corresponds to Bohr’s own body of works.
Wei Yu’s presentation on ‘Taipei Broken Life’ festival series was equally interesting as I had little prior understanding of Taiwanese avant-garde in the 1990s.
After a long but stimulating day, Marko Daniel concluded the conference with a high note which was to make it as an annual event. I think the conference has a great potential to become a major event in the calendar of artist, curators and arts practitioners from all over the world.
11 June 2012