ACAW's signature program, the FIELD MEETING boasts a lineup that includes a keynote presentation by Tom Finkelpearl, the former executive director of the Queens Museum who is now Commissioner of New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs; commissioned performances from Haig Aivazian, the Chinese art collective Polit-Sheer-Form Office, and Bavand Behpoor, among others; and 35 art professionals presenting their latest projects and initiatives.
Earlier in the week Asia Blog previewed ACAW 2014 with Asian Contemporary Art Week Director Leeza Ahmady. Now, ACAW Associate Curator Xin Wang offers the following brief statement further explaining some of the thinking behind the two-day FIELD MEETING at Asia Society. Wang is a Special Exhibition Research Assistant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art whose writing has appeared in Artforum, Flash Art, and Modern Art Asia, among other publications.
FIELD MEETING is trying to bypass filters and lenses already in place. Because of the way art institutions function, there are initiatives and timelines that make it difficult to consider Asia more holistically.
Gallery representations tend to single out an artist — or even select pieces of art objects — more or less detached from a broader context of cultural and social dynamics. Museum exhibitions, on the other hand, take about five to ten years in planning, including two to three years of intensive curatorial work — which is why a curated platform like the FIELD MEETING is so valuable, because it responds to these creative urgencies a lot more spontaneously.
There is a tendency, when it comes to interpreting works of art from unfamiliar areas, to
contextualize them in related political and cultural contexts, a very constructive method that can also reduce artists to mere footnotes. In fact, artists can and do challenge how those political and cultural situations are understood in the first place.
Many artists are consciously evading dichotomies, such as Asia vs. the rest of the world (particularly the West). Yet clichéd frameworks like that are still being imposed on them as interpretive devices — as if Asian art has to be compartmentalized in a politically-correct, well-defined manner so that people won't worry about saying the wrong things or not picking up on certain references.