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