Asia Art Archive hosts three exhibitions that explore art periodicals in Asia as tools for criticism, historical research, travel writing, and fiction. Conceived by AAA team members, these presentations are part of the public programmes leading up to It Begins with a Story: Artists, Writers, and Periodicals in Asia, the symposium organised by Asia Art Archive in collaboration with The University of Hong Kong, 11–13 January 2018.
Li Xianting’s Contribution to Art Journals in China (1978–2001)
Anthony Yung with Guo Hongwei
Li Xianting began his career in art in late 1978, when he was appointed editor of Meishu magazine. As the youngest member of the editorial team, Li was committed to reporting on topics that most fundamentally represented the profound changes that art was undergoing during the post–Cultural Revolution era. The topics covered include calling for a reconsideration of the artistic concept of realism, the re-emergence of abstract art, and the first unofficial exhibitions organised by artists since the end of the Cultural Revolution, such as New Spring Exhibition, The Stars Exhibition, and Twelve Men Painting Exhibition. This presentation is an investigation into Li’s practice as an editor and a writer working for Meishu, Fine Arts in China, and Next Wave—newspapers and magazines he was involved with for over two decades. Featuring newly annotated and translated archival materials, the exhibition explores how periodicals can be used as a tool for critical debates and historical research.
Somewhere Along the Line
Karthik K. G. in collaboration with Sneha Ragavan
Somewhere Along the Line presents an assemblage of found objects, images, and text, organised along four conceptual themes related to movement. The project begins with an investigation into the various kinds of writings on travel and identifies four broad lines of movement: one-directional outward movements, repeated forced movements, movements inward, and meandering movements. These four types of movement correspond with four abstracted line forms, and are presented along with a set of four corresponding objects and select citations. The display explores how creative and intellectual milieus are formed and enabled by mobility—of people, objects, and ideas. These threads emerge out of AAA's forthcoming Dossier Three, a collection of artists’ writings from twentieth-century South Asia, which engages with journeys outward and inward, familiar and strange, and across thresholds of public and private.
Fantasy of a Dialogue
Nicole Yuen Lai with work by Au Sow-Yee
Fantasy of a Dialogue takes as its point of departure a moment during which art periodicals in Asia embraced the dialogue form to advance discussion on art in the region. This inquiry focuses on three works published respectively in Vrishchik (India), The Trend of Art Thought (China), and sentAp! (Malaysia). These texts experiment with narrative structures, providing a stage for myths, memories, facts, and fictions. They reveal new ways of interpreting art historical contexts across multiple geographies while exploring the relationship between self and other. The exhibition consists of two parts, constructing speculative histories echoing the encounters, characterisations, and aesthetic paradigms presented in the dialogues. The first, a commissioned work by artist Au Sow-Yee, features an archive of an imaginary character—a secret agent, scientist, and artist—inspired in part by the American silk tycoon Jim Thompson, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances while in Malaysia in 1967. The second, a series of images from AAA Collection and other sources, traces the sites imagined within the dialogues.