Tan­gled Web

New York cu­ra­tor Klaus Biesen­bach talks to Mar­i­anna Cerini about dig­i­tal art and work­ing with Adrian Cheng

Hong Kong Tatler - - Life | Art -

Klaus Biesen­bach is a ma­jor in­no­va­tive force in the cu­ra­to­rial world. His work as direc­tor of New York’s MOMA Ps1—one of the globe’s most im­por­tant mod­ern art in­sti­tu­tions—has had a far-reach­ing ef­fect on the way con­tem­po­rary art is ap­proached and per­ceived. This month he brings to Hong Kong .com/.cn, a group ex­hi­bi­tion of Chi­nese and in­ter­na­tional artists that co­in­cides with the Art Basel fair. De­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with Adrian Cheng and his K11 Art Foun­da­tion, and with the sup­port of MOMA PS1 cu­ra­tor Peter Eleey, the show ex­plores in­ter­sec­tions be­tween artis­tic prac­tice in China and the West in the in­ter­net age through in­stal­la­tions, paint­ings and sculp­tures, fo­cus­ing on the ques­tion of how artists deal with the World Wide Web in their cre­ative process.

Why did you de­cide to fo­cus on dig­i­tal mul­ti­me­dia art for this ex­hi­bi­tion?

Re­search­ing, image mak­ing, and image pub­lish­ing are in­creas­ingly hap­pen­ing dig­i­tally. What trig­gered my cu­rios­ity was the way artists from dif­fer­ent parts of the world en­gage with their on­line world. I am in­ter­ested in cre­at­ing a di­a­logue about these en­gage­ments and their rel­e­vance.

How did your part­ner­ship with the K11 Art Foun­da­tion come about?

Adrian Cheng and I met and be­gan talk­ing about do­ing a pos­si­ble re­search project to­gether in 2015. I have vis­ited China many times since, most re­cently in Novem­ber to pre­pare the show. Our part­ner­ship is far from over—i see this as an on­go­ing study.

Why have you fo­cused China?

I’ve been in­trigued and fas­ci­nated by China for quite some time. Do­ing some­thing with lo­cal artists just felt like a nat­u­ral step. MOMA PS1 also has some­thing we call our China ini­tia­tive to en­gage with art and artists from the re­gion.

What is it like work­ing with Adrian?

A real plea­sure. Adrian and I vis­ited many stu­dios to­gether in China, but also New York. The K11 Art Foun­da­tion has the most in­cred­i­ble re­search team and artist sup­port in­fra­struc­ture. They are cre­at­ing points of ac­cess for artists across China. Adrian is ex­tremely knowl­edge­able; he lis­tens and is in­cred­i­bly re­cep­tive. What are the main dif­fer­ences in the dig­i­tal artis­tic prac­tices of China and the West, and what are the points of in­ter­sec­tion? In sev­eral stu­dio vis­its, we dis­cussed the idea of us­ing Face­book as an artist com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool and Google as a re­search tool, and their anal­o­gous plat­forms in China, but since they are not the same, the en­su­ing ap­proaches have in­her­ently been dif­fer­ent. At the same time, one of the main con­clu­sions from .com/.cn is that the in­ter­net is our com­mon ev­ery­day source of stim­u­la­tion, in­spi­ra­tion, chal­lenge, di­a­logue and learn­ing. Spend­ing time in front of your com­puter or with your smart­phone has be­come not only an ex­ten­sion of your own body, but also an ex­ten­sion of in­sti­tu­tions like li­braries, mu­se­ums, re­search labs and public podi­ums. This ex­hi­bi­tion is try­ing to lay out some of these as­pects in front of the viewer.

Is there a spe­cific art­work in the show you’re par­tic­u­larly drawn to?

Li Ming’s Straight Line, Land­scape (2014) [be­low]. For it, the artist made ob­ser­va­tions dur­ing a hike, all the while us­ing Google Earth to de­pict his route, so you have a very per­sonal view jux­ta­posed with the om­ni­scient view 10,000 feet above.

.com/.cn runs from March 21 to April 30 at the K11 Art Foun­da­tion Pop-up Space, G/F, Cosco Tower, 33 Wing Lok Street, She­ung Wan. An open­ing re­cep­tion and artist talk will take place on March 20.

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