CHAN­TAL WONG

Head of strate­gic de­vel­op­ment at the Asia Art Ar­chive and co-founder of Things That Can Hap­pen

Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -

“I don’t see my­self as a cu­ra­tor,” says Chan­tal Wong, who es­tab­lished the art space Things That Can Hap­pen with artist Lee Kit in 2015. “I see TTCH more as a pro­ducer or fa­cil­i­ta­tor for the artist, a way for their works to meet the public—whether through pro­vid­ing public space, a pub­li­ca­tion or merely a con­ver­sa­tion.” The pair founded the Sham Shui Po art space partly in re­sponse to the po­lit­i­cal un­rest that swept Hong Kong in 2014. “We wanted to cre­ate a space where art would bring dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives to the table to en­gage in con­ver­sa­tion,” she says. They were also mo­ti­vated by a de­sire to chal­lenge the white cube style of art space preva­lent in Hong Kong. “In­stead of ex­pand­ing the imag­i­na­tion,” Wong says, “all these vari­a­tions on a white cube re­sult in their own set of lim­i­ta­tions.”

Wong has worked at the Asia Art Ar­chive since 2006. She moved to Lon­don in 2009 to study for an MA in cul­tural stud­ies at Gold­smiths, and while there worked at the Out­set Con­tem­po­rary Art Fund. Since re­turn­ing to Hong Kong and the AAA as head of strat­egy and special projects in 2011, she has co-cu­rated the Map­ping Asia ex­hi­bi­tion at the AAA and, with Cos­min Costi­nas, cu­rated Ten Mil­lion Rooms of Yearn­ing at Para Site.

The 32-year-old says the AAA’S mis­sion is “to be a cat­a­lyst for new ideas that en­rich our un­der­stand­ing of the world through knowl­edge around re­cent art in Asia—and to en­sure that we have the right re­sources to get there.” The TTCH project is sup­ported by the likes of Alan Lo and Dar­rin Woo, art pa­trons Wong val­ues for more than just their fi­nan­cial sup­port. “They are our cheer­lead­ers. They be­lieve in what we do, keep us in check, and we feed off en­ergy from them,” she says.

Wong is in­spired by the power of art to bring com­mu­ni­ties to­gether and pro­mote change. “It’s im­por­tant to get be­yond the art it­self and have a con­ver­sa­tion.” She was in­vited to speak at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos in Jan­uary as one of the fo­rum’s Global Shapers. The theme of the meet­ing was “re­spon­sive and re­spon­si­ble lead­er­ship,” and Wong spoke about TTCH’S “mis­sion to con­nect art to so­ci­ety,” in par­tic­u­lar its Com­mu­nity Col­lege ini­tia­tive, which helps asy­lum seek­ers and refugees in Hong Kong cul­ti­vate lead­er­ship in their com­mu­ni­ties through art.

Hong Kong Tatler’s ed­i­tor-at-large for art and de­sign, Wil­liam Zhao, notes that “Chan­tal is a very promis­ing young cu­ra­tor who strives for the rights and voice of mi­nori­ties.”

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