Something Remembered: ACAF Impressions

The second annual Asian Contemporary Art Fair (ACAF) convened in New York for a few days in early November—days of almost non-stop indulgence in the ultra-modern as well as in handkerchief waving to the ghosts of the avant-garde.

Located on a pier over the Hudson River at a particularly unprepossessing intersection on the far west end of midtown Manhattan (directly across the street from Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club—surely a must-see on every art-lover’s itinerary—with its fake acropolis on a low-rise building of mostly boarded-up windows), ACAF drew exhibitors from all over the globe: Tokyo, London, Madrid, Paris, Geneva, Dhaka, Dubai, and beyond. And while it’s true that the Fair represented artists from South Korea, Japan, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines as well as from Kazakhstan, Iran, and Turkey, it was, in fact, China’s show nearly all the way. At least in quantity.

north koreaI arrived the afternoon of November 6, just in time for ACAF’s “media preview,” which turned out to be a euphemism for unguided tour. Continue reading “Something Remembered: ACAF Impressions”

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Shu: Reinventing Books in Contemporary Chinese Art

The text is there, but you can’t read it.

The overarching theme of the bizarre conceptual pieces on display in Shu: Reinventing Books in Contemporary Chinese Art appears to be that the written word has lost all relevance in a society that has better things to do than read. The texts that accompany these works at the Seattle Asian Art Museum are by turns deliberately blotted out, mutilated, or printed using invented letters that resemble an alphabet, yet are wholly unpronounceable.

The Beijing-based Zhang Xiaogang contributes the most entertaining variation on this in Written Memories (2005), a collection of 20 framed photographs jammed together, in four rows of five, on the same wall. All the shots, whether they’re in color, black and white, or hand-tinted sepia, are from 1970s television shows. The images include a book open to a photo of Chairman Mao, a folding chair propped against a wall next to black leather recliners in an empty room (which would you rather sit in, the picture seems to ask), and . . .

Continue reading at Northwest Asian Weekly.