WSJ: Meditating on Past and Present at Asia Society Hong Kong

WSJ: Meditating on Past and Present at Asia Society Hong Kong

A Buddha head sculpture by Zhang Huan is part of Asia Society Hong Kong Center's Transforming Minds: Buddhism in Art exhibition. (Asia Society Hong Kong Center)

The Buddha does not usually wear a halo of fiber-optic wires. Well, not until now.

For its inaugural exhibition, Transforming Minds: Buddhism in Art, Asia Society Hong Kong Center is featuring both contemporary and ancient artwork depicting Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha, the great spiritual teacher. The exhibition will display several centuries-old Buddhist sculptures and scrolls from Asia Society's John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection alongside contemporary works such as the fiber-optic Buddha by Michael Joo entitled Bodhi Obfuscatus (Space-Baby).

The exhibition receives a healthy dose of advance publicity today as the subject of a post on the Scene Asia blog of the Wall Street Journal, which says that it "shines a spotlight on a school of curatorial thought gaining traction: Looking at today's Asian art in the context of cultural history."

Asia Society Vice President for Global Art Programs and Museum Director Melissa Chiu, Lead Curator for the exhibition, tells Scene Asia that the exhibition's contemporary artworks — by Montien Boonma, Zhang Huan and Mariko Mori, in addition to Joo — can be read as "a dialogue with the past."

Chiu goes on to note, though, that this kind of historical engagement is only one strain of contemporary Asian art: "There are also many artists who are not interested in the past."

Transforming Minds opens this Friday, February 10 and is on view through May 20. Its opening follows a day behind the grand opening of Asia Society Hong Kong Center, which will be webcast live on Thursday, Februrary 9 at 10:00 am HKT. Click here for complete details on the webcast.

Related links:
Transforming Minds: Buddhism in Art
Scene Asia: Contemporary Takes on Buddha

February 8, 2012
by Rebecca Chao