Events

A Political Edge for SF Asian Contemporary Art Week

by Mostafa Heddaya on September 18, 2013

I love Xijing -The Daily Life of Xijing Presidents (the urban planning of Xijing

Gimhongsok, “I love Xijing – The Daily Life of Xijing Presidents (the urban planning of Xijing)” (2013) (image courtesy ACAW-SF)

The second annual Asian Contemporary Art Week will descend upon the San Francisco Bay Area tomorrow with myriad scheduled events highlighting art practices engaged with Asian social and political issues. The week’s centerpiece will be a panel discussion called “In Dialogue: Drop a Pin,” in which artists Inti Guerrero, James T. HongMariam Ghani, and Gimhongsok will link their geographic points of origin — Hong Kong, Zhejiang, Kabul, and the fictional Xijing, respectively — to the Bay Area.

With programming this year intending to shed light on “alternative political and historical narratives” affecting Asia, the aforementioned panel discussion will investigate sociopolitical questions raised by a group of individuals “whose curatorial or artistic practice addresses one particular location,” program director Xiaoyu Weng told Hyperallergic. Outside of the keynote, the week’s schedule covers nearly 20 venues throughout the Bay Area, ranging from university museums to nonprofit arts centers and private galleries, all hosting events from lectures to solo exhibitions.

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Virlani Hallberg, “Receding Triangular Square” (2012) HD video, color, sound. (image courtesy of the artist)

Returning to the panel discussion as the week’s formative event, Weng contined: “Each of the locations they are going to talk about is something we are already familiar with on the surface. Using the example of Hong Kong, Inti Guerrero will dig into the whole history of using ‘plague’ as a metaphor for fear against migration and migrants. This goes back to the 19th century through 2003, when the SARS virus exploded in Hong Hong.”

As for the Taiwanese activist filmmaker James T. Hong, “He went to a village, called the Rotten Leg, near Shanghai, and he sought to investigate their memory of the Second World War during the Japanese occupation, as well as the aftermath — a much hidden story about biological warfare, which turned out to be very relevant at the moment,” Weng said.

This is the second year of the Asian Contemporary Art Week, which had its inaugural run last May. “Last year it was a more generic approach to make people feel like they are welcome to be part of the week, to build more programming,” Weng explained. “For this year, we wanted to test this more thematic approach, and have a stronger anchor point to connect the different programs — this will probably be the model we will continue to use.”


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Hyperallergic is a media sponsor for Asian Contemporary Art Week, which runs from September 19 to 26 at various venues in the Bay Area. An interactive programming schedule is available on the website.

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