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
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:
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 :)