Safe at SAM, in danger at ArtHK11

**Update: Magnus Renfrew wrote back to tell me he has met Jompet several times and that he also saw and apparently fixed the situation. I'm surprised that he knows of Jompet - would you not maybe then inform the staff on duty nearby that the work is kind of important to some people? But he takes it seriously and I support their hopes to fix the crowd issue for future fairs**

I think it's safe to say that the organisers of ArtHK were not fully aware of the regional value of some of the artists showing at their event, especially those relegated to the 'crazy' floor (the fair has already copped a bit for this segregation) where crowds were allowed to run riot interact, participate and have fun with all the art on display. I say 'allowed' not because they were actually allowed to touch but because they were ignoring the tasteful Do Not Touch signs beneath their feet, and there was no freakin security for miles! While, sadly, there were roughly hundreds of staff checking tickets and bags at every ArtHK 11 entrance, there were very few inside, and even fewer who gave a damn. And I say 'crowds' because it was ridiculous how many people were allowed in at one time. ?? Magnus!!!?! Not good.
Unfortunately I think it really hit me hard because some of these artists are important to Asian and SE Asian art, and I can easily talk about one in particular here whose work I recently felt so fortunate to see in Singapore: Indonesian artist Jompet Kuswidananto (b.1976).

Osage Kwun Tong showed Jompet's work in July last year. Here's a piece of their text:
Jompet’s work, takes as its starting point, the history of Java and explores syncretism or strategies to reconcile dispersed and disparate points of reference in Java’s cultural history. This is exemplified by Java, the War of Ghosts, the centrepiece of the exhibition, which also, in turn, frames the other installations and video works in the exhibition.
At the heart of Jompets’ work is also an exploration of the relationship and tensions between tradition and modernity, which is evident through the video work War of Java, Do you Remember? #2, where a traditional Javanese dancer moves gracefully through an old sugarcane factory, where his movements mimic those of the massive machines in the background, a potent symbol of modernity. Jompet’s work can be read as a discourse on post-colonialism and globalisation, a celebration of unruly beauty. As with Java’s heritage, harmony can be negotiated in the multiplicity of patches that make up today’s global community.
And you can read more about the artist and the concept and message behind his work: HERE

This artist's work is incredibly powerful and chilling in person and yep, you guessed it, there was a Jompet installation on display upstairs at ArtHK11, and it was being touched, worn, disrespected and broken. Im sure if anyone from Osage had seen what I did they would have been outraged, whereas I was just 'distraught' (as JJ of The Wanderlister blog correctly put it).
Below is an amateur video of a similar Jompet installation Java's Machine: Phantasmagoria at Singapore Art Museum. Although it does not fully come across in the video I am grateful that someone posted it on YouTube so I could talk about it a bit. The work's drumming ghost army was on display as part of It's Now or Never Part II: New Contemporary Art Acquisitions from Southeast Asia, timed to coincide nicely in January with the Singapore Biennale. 

Thanks JJ for writing about it! The image shown on The Wanderlister is from the Vernissage, and far from the chaos that ensued later on (Saturday) at that work that has led me to write this post and email ArtHK, but I was too busy trying to stop people to take pictures. Of course, writing now, I wish I had taken pictures of it just to prove Im not exaggerating. Charles LaBelle was with me, oh was he mad (plus he just enjoys telling people off I've learned haha). 

I am by no means a fan of a cold art experience - just this blog is evidence of my hope that all people can take a relaxed approach to learn about art - but this went beyond anything acceptable. And just on a whole, there were TOO MANY people in there full stop. It was Saturday around 2pm, and it was a joke. It was hard to move around, to see anything, and to control the sad stuff I saw (and i was only up there for 10 mins!).
It shouldnt be up to concerned visitors and people like me who are at the fair to work, to have to find the Organiser's Office and tell them that there are people upstairs walking inside artworks and breaking hats off sculptures in order to put them on and make peace signs for their friends' cameras. 

In true SE Asian artist style, Jompet will probably be heartbreakingly sweet about it, which makes me even madder at how irresponsible the fair was towards him :(  If you want to email the Director of ArtHK too, here is a link.
Ok end of complaining rant. 
More positive posts on ArtHK to follow soon :)