Asian Art Archive Open Weekend

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am


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The Asian Art Archive has spent more than a decade building its collection of material about contemporary art in Asia. And on the coming weekend, for the first time, the archive will take centre stage in a free two-day event with the theme, 'Between the Lines'.

Susanna Chung Yuk-man, the head of learning and participation at the AAA who was on a Asian Cultural Council (ACC) grant to visit the US last year, sees an opportunity to engage Hong Kong people.

'The Open Weekend attempts to encourage people to think about art in Hong Kong,' says Chung, who has learned from more than 70 museums in 10 cities in the US and Britain.

But she realised the cultural context and subject matter she faced in Hong Kong were vastly different. 'I've visited a lot of acclaimed art museums, but we are an archive. I need to think about the collection we have, and how to put it at the centre,' she said.

A problem she has to address is how people often feel distant from contemporary art. 'Contemporary art spaces are usually tiny, like Cattle Depot Artist Village. While people may see local or international art in auction houses, exhibition previews, art fairs and so on, those are the art market,' she said.

On the surface, Hong Kong has a thriving art scene; it's the third-largest auction centre in the world after New York and London, with big-name galleries such as Gagosian and White Cube setting up here. But the commercial side of art is dominant in Hong Kong, she said.

To connect the Archive, and thus art, with the people, the Open Weekend has programmes that aim to appeal to teachers, youth and parents. 'We want to build an audience for the future. Parents, especially those who like art and culture, have always wanted fun and meaningful ways to bring up their children,' Chung said.

The Archive has invited artists who are also parents - such as Lam Tung-pang, Luke Ching Chin-wai, Clara Cheung Ka-lei and Tan Yuk-king - in the programme The Art of Storytelling, to encourage parent-child participation and interaction.

Besides workshops, a highlight is an exhibition called 'Hong Kong Art: 5,460 Days'. As this year marks the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China, this comprises a selection of material that reflects the cultural and political environments through the eyes of artists of the past 15 years. 'This [theme] can really connect people,' Chung said.

Archive can be a boring word to many people. Reading, on the other hand, is a much more approachable word - hence the event's title, 'Between the Lines', she said.

'We have been relatively quiet on the public side. Because we're a non-profit charity and had limited resources at first, we decided to focus on building a solid foundation. But now we are trying to connect the Archive to a wider audience.'

Asian Art Archive Open Weekend, Sat-Sun, 11/F Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan