Looking Forward 2018: Asia and Australia

Curators Sampson Wong, Kenichi Kondo and Max Delany share their highlights of the coming year’s shows

Sampson Wong
Kenichi Kondo
Max Delany

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On & On Theatre Workshop performing a Cantonese version of Roland Schimmelpfennig's Der Goldene Drache (The Golden Dragon), 2009, at the Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 2016. Photograph: Cheung Chi Wai

On & On Theatre Workshop performing a Cantonese version of Roland Schimmelpfennig's Der Goldene Drache (The Golden Dragon), 2009, at the Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 2016. Photograph: Cheung Chi Wai

Sampson Wong
Sampson Wong is an artist, academic and independent curator focusing on contemporary urban studies, socially engaged art and politics of art and creativity. He works in Hong Kong and is currently a lecturer at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Gavin Grindon, the co-curator of the V&A’s 2014 ‘Disobedient Objects’ is working with artist Darren Cullen and others to realize an Anti-Thatcher Museum in London. To be opened in 2018, it is a project in response to the ‘real’ Margaret Thatcher Museum and Library and explores the political legacy of neoliberalism.

Architectural collective Assemble are constructing an unorthodox contemporary art centre for London’s Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art. I believe that they will demonstrate what a paradigm-shifting art space in the 21st century can be like.

Make a Difference, a Hong Kong collective focusing on socially engaged art, will be curating an art-in-situ programme organized by Hong Kong’s Art Promotion Office – it responds to the village environment in the city through social practice projects at Chuen Long Village, Hong Kong.

Form Society and Ching Chun Warehouse – a pair of micro artist-run-spaces which emerged after the 2014 Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong – are often off-the-radar when the Hong Kong art-world is discussed. Initiated by pioneering social practice artists in Hong Kong, to me they are the most exciting cultural spaces in the city right now, and I always look forward to their innovative programmes.

The On & On Theatre Workshop in Hong Kong will be celebrating their 20th anniversary next year – it will be a timely cultural intervention reflecting on the condition of the city. In particular, I look forward to the works of some the city’s most intellectual and reflective playwrights including Chan Ping Chiu and Yan Pat To.

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The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, which reopens this year. Courtesy: Wiki Commons

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, which reopens this year. Courtesy: Wiki Commons

Kenichi Kondo
Kenichi Kondo is a curator at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.

The 21st Biennale of Sydney which opens on 16 March 2018 under the direction of Mami Kataoka, titled ‘SUPERPOSITION: Equilibrium and Engagement’.

I'm also looking forward to the re-opening this year of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and the Naoya Hatakeyama survey at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

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Clement Meadmore, Up and over, 1967, painted steel, 31 x 41 x 60 cm. Courtesy: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra © Clement Meadmore/VAGA, New York

Clement Meadmore, Up and over, 1967, painted steel, 31 x 41 x 60 cm. Courtesy: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra © Clement Meadmore/VAGA, New York

Max Delany
Max Delany is the Artistic Director and CEO of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne, Australia.

As the inaugural exhibition which opened the National Gallery of Victoria’s new building in 1968, ‘The Field’ is now considered a landmark exhibition in Australian art historiography. With its silver foil-covered walls and geometric light fittings, ‘The Field’ was controversial, surveying the hip ascendancy of international style late-modernist abstraction in the Australian context through minimalist, geometric, hard edged and colour field painting and sculpture. Fifty years on, the NGV are restaging this legendary exhibition as ‘The Field Revisited’ (27 April – 26 August), which will give new generations the opportunity to experience the materiality of the works and assess its fabled significance for local art history.

Robert Hunter (1947–2014), then 21 years of age, was the youngest participant in ‘The Field’, following his first solo exhibition at Melbourne’s Tolarno Galleries earlier the same year. Now considered to be Australia’s most revered and pre-eminent minimalist painter, as a parallel project, the NGV will stage a retrospective of Hunter’s practice (27 April – 26 August) over five decades. His white-on-white paintings encompass complex intuitive geometries and richly luminous, albeit subtle, fields of colour; they draw the viewer into a deep exploration of perception and painterly process.

Another artist who passed away too early was the singular, enigmatic conceptualist Mutlu Çerkez (1964–2005), who will be the subject of a comprehensive retrospective (10 February – 14 April) at Monash University Museum of Art, with an accompanying catalogue raisonné. Çerkez adopted the ambitious format of opera as a structuring device for his work, which mined diverse traditions of conceptual art, minimalism and portraiture to address questions of ontological and philosophical significance – the artistic life cycle, questions of being and the passing of time.

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Mit Jai Inn (included in the 21st Sydney Biennale, 2018), Junta Monochrome #1, 2016, oil on canvas, 800 x 800 x 50 cm. Courtesy: the artist; Gallery Ver, Bangkok; and Cartel Artspace, Bangkok; photograph: Jirat Ratthawongjirakul

Mit Jai Inn (included in the 21st Sydney Biennale, 2018), Junta Monochrome #1, 2016, oil on canvas, 800 x 800 x 50 cm. Courtesy: the artist; Gallery Ver, Bangkok; and Cartel Artspace, Bangkok; photograph: Jirat Ratthawongjirakul

Two major periodic exhibitions also unfold in 2018. Leading the 21st edition of the Biennale of Sydney (16 March – 11 June) is Mami Kataoka, the first curator from the Asia Pacific region to take the helm of Biennale, hot on the heels of the ground-breaking ‘Sunshower: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now’ at the National Art Centre, Tokyo and the Mori Art Museum in 2017. Kataoka’s curatorial title, ‘Superposition: Art of Equilibrium and Engagement’, borrows from quantum physics, referring ‘to the ability of electrons to occupy multiple states at once, to simultaneously take opposing paths and end up in different places’. The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial (APT9), the Queensland Art Gallery’s flagship event, will follow later in the year (24 November 2018 – 28 April 2019).

One of the participants in the Sydney Biennale is the Melbourne artist Tom Nicholson, whose exhibition ‘Drawings and Correspondence’ will be held at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane (24 March–2 June), with an accompanying publication edited by Helen Hughes and Amelia Barikin. The project surveys the central role drawing plays in Nicholson’s practice, as a way of connecting his work to wider cultural histories in Australia and beyond, and the relationship between actions and their traces.

At Gertrude Contemporary in Melbourne, the 18th edition of their annual flagship project ‘Octopus’ (17 August – 23 September) is being developed by guest curator Kimberley Moulton, one of an impressive younger generation of First Nations curators, cultural activists and producers. A Yorta Yorta woman and Senior Curator of South Eastern Aboriginal Collections, Melbourne Museum, Moulton’s project – with the working title of ‘Mother Tongue’ – will explore the work of First Nations women artists who deploy written and oral languages to decentre colonial paradigms and western art histories, highlighting the significant role that women play in the assertion of sovereignty in relation to land, bodies and identity.

Main image: Naoya Hatakeyama, Blast #13609 (detail), 2007, Lambda print, 1 x 1.5 m. Courtesy: Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo

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