From 2nd to 10th August this year, while twenty-two international artists are nestling in various villagers’ homes in Jatiwangi, West Java, collaborating on ideas and actions as part of a week long arts festival, a group of Trinidadian teenagers continues cruising on BMX bicycles radically customized with chunky speakers, blasting 15,000 watts of amplified sound; enough to power a mini rock concert in Queens, New York.(1)
From 9th to 12th September this year, a Summit involving up to forty young, contemporary Asian artists, independent curators and art managers will camp on Sentosa Island, Singapore. In this Summit called HAO: Confronting the Future of Arts and Culture from Asia, they will sit up to Keynote addresses and dive in to workshops by professionals from non-arts sectors such as Marco Kusumawijaya (eco-architect and urban planner, Indonesia), Karthik Siva (founder, Global Brand Forum, Singapore), Matt Mason (author, The Pirate’s Dilemma, UK) and Abdul Rahman Abdullah (Total Quality Management researcher, Singapore).
Tags: Art. Inspiration. Innovation. Exploration. Knowledge. Community. Cohesion. Sustainability.
Singapore is known for its capabilities in “How” – how to do things efficiently and how to set up systems to function efficiently. However, we are not best known for being creative visionaries – yet these are precisely the qualities that the government is trying to nurture in order to build a sustainable future for Singapore. We are a country of people enjoying a comfortable standard of living – life is good. And “Good” is “Hao” in Chinese. The title of our Summit “HAO” riffs on the consonance of the two words “how” and “hao”, a gently provocative title that aims to get us to think beyond the surface – beyond the “how” – to ask, “is life really going to be good in the future, and how can we shape it”?
On May 24th this year, thirty-five year old I Nyoman Masriadi, an Indonesian artist, had one of his paintings, Sudah Biasa Ditelanjang(Used to being stripped naked), auctioned by Christie’s in Hong Kong for a whopping US$519,194.
If you did not already know, Nyoman Masriadi’s current solo exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum is the first of his career. As mentioned by Soetriyono ‘the prices for art pieces by Masriadi seem to have soared without any fundamental support in terms of exhibition history and works being collected by reputable institutions’.(2) US$519,194 starts to sound like an expensive reminder for LASIK(3) surgery…
This Masriadi stratagem seems to be but one of the many covert ones at play. However, and most importantly, how do these hurtling hammer prices of a relatively embryonic Southeast Asian contemporary art ‘market’ contribute to the sustainability of arts & culture in its own region? You see, it is not uncommon to witness living artists who are ‘successful’ by definition of sales and auctions stagnate, falling into states of not only auto, but also induced plagiarism.
The HAO Benefit Pyramid
From 9th to 12th September this year, up to forty young, contemporary Asian artists, independent curators and art managers will camp on Sentosa Island to “confront the future” – a future that they will build. And the work of building a future starts in knowing oneself and being aware of how we are all interconnected. A key methodology used to provoke thinking in the Workshops and Summit is to shake off the usual habits of body and mind adopted during a Conference – where usually the participant passively listens to lectures and presentations. Instead, workshops at HAO will be activity-based, including small group work, outdoor activities, debates, etc. Participants will be encouraged to mingle and work closely with one another, and get to know people from different countries and cultures. As part of the methodology, we hope to hold some of the workshops at unexpected locations such as the beaches, parkland, and cafes/restaurants on Sentosa.
Although many others we have spoken to are reluctant to play a supporting role, HAO speaker such as Matt Mason recognizes its value and significance; enough to waive €20,000 in speaker’s fees. It is in our beliefs that only when the artist, curator or arts manager is inspired, empowered and connected would there then be international quality art and artists (to cite a couple of often typically simplistic demands). HAO aims to inspire people to effect change – for themselves and for the sustainability of their environment. And when this happens, its beneficiaries would not only be amongst the likes of collectors and investors, but ultimately, communities as a whole. Do not terminate your patronship at the acquisition of an art object; start supporting the process too because it is just as necessary and meaningful.
HAO recognizes that art invigorates humanity and is a testament to great civilizations. The endurance and future of art and culture in Asia is up to the young emerging leaders in the creative sectors whose task it is to educate and reach their publics, and present inspired artworks to the world.
HAO about you?
August 2008, Singapore
Publlished in Singapore Art & Gallery Guide,
September 2008 Edition, Singapore
This article contains re-mixes of parts written by Audrey Wong, Artistic Co-Director of The Substation.
(1) Go to Made in Queens
(2) Eddy Soetriyono, Under the threat of bursting bubbles, C-Arts Vol. 04, United Univers Publishing Pte. Ltd., Singapore, 2008
(3) A type of refractive laser eye surgery performed by ophthalmologists for correcting myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.