The UK’s first Asian Art Triennial is conceived by Shisha, the UK’s premier international agency for contemporary South Asian crafts and visual arts, in partnership with Castlefield Gallery, Cornerhouse, Chinese Arts Centre, The International 3, Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Metropolitan University.
The inaugural Asia Triennial Manchester (ATM08) programme echoes Manchester’s strong political and social history, reflects new artistic practice, and seeks resonances between the city and Asia by exploring the notion of ‘protest’ – in its widest sense.
Asia Triennial Manchester 08 will showcase the best of contemporary visual art and craft practice from Asia: a festival of visual culture that not only celebrates Manchester’s diverse communities but also explores cultural, artistic and political debates of the 21st century.
The international programme features stunning venue-based exhibitions, surprising site-specific new commissions, innovative residencies and extraordinary publicly sited work by artists from China, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. None of the work featured has been seen in the UK before and for some of the artists ATM08 will be their UK debut.
Castlefield Gallery is working with Channel A from Taiwan and p-10 from Singapore who will reside in Manchester in the lead up to ATM08. The gallery space will become a hive of activity, an accumulative space where information is collected, captured, sought and disseminated through the interface of artwork in the physical space, technology, web broadcast, social engagement with the local public and publication.
Chinese Arts Centre has initiated both a residency and exhibition programme. The artist’s residency will be with a Hong Kong artist, who will spend March to May 2008 in Manchester reacting to the city and its communities. For the exhibition, the Centre is working with two Mainland Chinese artists, Chen Shaoxiong and Qiu Anxiong, who both use Chinese ink painting in an experimental way. Using their daily life story and a modern city portrait, they create new ink paintings and animation, which illustrate a sense of insecurity of the rapid urban development in China.
Cornerhouse is staging “What do you want?” with artists Tejal Shah, Jasmeen Patheja, Shilpa Gupta, Surekha and Shaina Anand, all living in India and working amongst a new generation of artists with activist concepts. The exhibition and community project challenges traditional cultural opinion, contemporary political issues and controversial social situations, the artists use photography, performance, sculpture, video and new media to analyse problems faced by Indian women and those living within conventional family structures.
The International 3’s project features Chinese artist Han Bing whose work uses photography, video and performative social interventions to question everyday living and the impact of human progress. Han Bing’s art manifests a kind of amor mundi – love of the world – investing ordinary objects with a subtle sense of the sacred. For ATM08, Bing is planning to involve 100 local people in the European premiere of a surprising outdoor performance.
Manchester Art Gallery will present contemporary work by two Korean artists, Gwon Osang and Choe U-ram. Gwon Osang makes extraordinary life-size sculptures of people. He uses hundreds of photographic images to build up the surface appearance of his models, including the face, their hair and their clothes. The process gives his beautifully crafted figures both photo-realist and surreal qualities. He is now creating new work inspired by his recent Manchester residency. Gwon’s new sculptures will be displayed in unexpected places around the gallery from 5 April and he will also present his first UK solo exhibition from 21 June – 21 September 2008. Choe U-ram uses precision cut and polished metals, machinery and electronics to create stunning kinetic sculptures inspired by sea creatures and plant life. Two of the artist’s enormous robotic works, Urbanus Female and Urbanus Male, will be exhibited for the first time in the UK in the gallery’s glass atrium 5 April – September 2008.
For the past 5 years, Shisha has championed new and dynamic visual cultures from South Asia and beyond to the UK, including new commissions by Subodh Gupta, Rashid Rana, Atul Dodiya, Imran Qureshi and Pushpamala N. For ATM08 Shisha continues to develop this, placing newly commissioned work and forging a dialogue not only with the selected artist, but also with the international arts community. ATM08 will bring fresh art to Manchester and challenge stereotypical viewpoints of contemporary Asian artistic practice.