Asia Society is Launching a New Residency: More Asian Art Knowledge for Swiss Museums
With the residency for young curators from Switzerland, Asia Society Switzerland is creating a new platform for intensive cultural exchanges in Asia. The residency is administered in partnership with Tai Kwun Hong Kong. The young curator Yasmin Afschar from Zurich was selected from among numerous applicants and will now expand her curator experience for a three-month term in Hong Kong and Jakarta.
In challenging times, creative ideas and passionate involvement are needed so that future relationships between Switzerland and Asia can be strengthened through the language of art and culture. With this vision, the Young Curator Residency program was founded by Asia Society Switzerland in February 2021. The purpose is to promote dialog and cultural expositions with emphasis on Asia and its relationship with Switzerland.
There is a significant demand by young Swiss curators for residencies in Asia. Co-initiator Esther Heer-Zacek is pleased that the residency got off the ground very quickly and was met with considerable enthusiasm. “Specifically in difficult times it is important to provide opportunities for extensive cultural exchange and cooperation,” relates co-initiator Dorothee Richter.
The winner, Yasmin Afschar, is looking forward to strengthening her knowledge of Asian art in the vibrant cities of Hong Kong and Jakarta and to interacting with the extensive networks of Asia Society and of the Tai Kwun Contemporary-Teams. “The residency provides an outstanding platform to intensify my curator interests in and my research in the intersection of art and well-being.” During her residency, she will work together with the leading curators of Tai Kwun to study how contemporary artists in Asia interact with the idea of well-being, its traditions and – more importantly – its potentials for today. The young curator is particularly interested in how concepts of well-being -- or what we might call ‘different knowledge’ -- underlie not only official knowledge traditions, but rather also contribute to the healing of modern maladies. “Artists play a key role in promoting these kinds of non-institutional, alternative knowledge products,” Afschar added. She views the perspectives of contemporary art as being particularly valuable in this regard.
Submissions from all parts of the country were assessed and evaluated by a distinguished panel of seven judges. The jury was composed as follows: Tobias Berger, Head of Arts Tai Kwun Hong Kong, Esther Maria Heer-Zacek, Investor and Art Collector, Dominik Keller, Chairman of the Abegg-Foundation, Heike Munder, Director of the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Farid Rakun, from the Indonesian artistic collective Ruangrupa, Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Professor of Contemporary Curating Zurich University of the Arts and Nina Zimmer, Director of the Kunstmuseum Bern - Paul Klee Center.
For more than 65 years Asia Society’s purpose is to navigate shared futures for Asia and the world across policy, arts and culture, education, sustainability, business, and technology. The first center of the Asia Society in Europe was founded five years ago in Zurich. The Young Curator Residency is supported by the Friends of Asia Society Switzerland Arts & Culture Foundation. The charitable foundation aims at enhancing intercultural competency in Switzerland.
About Yasmin Afschar
Yasmin Afschar (*1985 in Teheran/IR, resides in Zurich/CH) studied art history in Zurich and Berlin. Since 2018, she has been the curator at the Aargauer Kunsthaus in Aarau, where she organized expositions, such as the Kosmos Emma Kunz, A Visionary in Dialog with Contemporary Art (2021) MASK, In Today’s Art (2019, with Madeleine Schuppli), and also individual expositions with Denise Bertschi, Cédric Eisenring and Marie Matusz, and many others. In addition, she is co-sponsor of LE FOYER–IN PROCESS – a nomadic discussion platform with emphasis on artistic processes. She is also the editor of several publications, including Kosmos Emma Kunz (2021) and Denise Bertschi. STRATA. Mining Silence (2020)). She also writes regularly on matters related to art and in 2020 within the scope of the Degree-Show of the Master of Fine Arts, she appeared as guest lecturer at the Zurich University of Art. Beginning in 2013 she worked initially as an academic volunteer, and later as assistant curator at the Aargauer Kunsthaus; before that she was Gallery Manager at the Mark Müller Gallery in Zurich and assistant to the artist Katharina Grosse in Berlin.
About Tai Kwun
Tai Kwun cultivates an appreciation of contemporary and expositionary art and promotes learning about the culture and heritage of Hong Kong. The Art and Culture Center located in the Central Business District includes 16 renovated, historical buildings. Among them are the former police headquarters, the supreme court and the Victoria prison, which are opposite the JC Contemporary and JC Cube which were designed by Herzog & de Meuron. In 2019 the Tai Kwun won the Award of Excellence as a part of the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.