Our Conversation Series features intimate interviews with leading experts from around the world: collectors, curators, artists, gallerists, and museum directors.
I am Alice Mong. I am the Executive Director of Asia Society Hong Kong Center. Asia Society Hong Kong Center has been in Hong Kong since 1990, and we are one of the premiere hubs of art and cultural, business and policy educational organisation here in Hong Kong.
What is Asia Society’s link with art?
We really now have a gallery space, that we can really fulfill the mission of Hong Kong’s place in the global art market, art space. Unlike New York, we are not a museum, we are a gallery space, but what we’ve been able to do similar to our colleagues in New York is put together really groundbreaking unique exhibitions for the Hong Kong audience.
Could you share with us some highlights of the gallery?
Just this past year, 2014, we were able to do three really groundbreaking exhibitions. The first one in 2014, we worked with the Italian Brera Gallery from Milan, bringing here to Hong Kong first time ever a masterpiece by the famous Italian artist Caravaggio. And then we were able to partner with Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing to have mounted his first solo exhibition here in Hong Kong. Then we concluded 2014 with this wonderful ‘Temple, Scrolls, and Divine Messengers’ [exhibition], which featured two really rare artifacts that rarely leave Israel.
How do not-for-profit art spaces help shape the Hong Kong art scene?
Even if you just have an art market, I think the art world is very two dimensional. You need a vibrant non-profit like Asia Society Hong Kong, Asian Art Archive, Para Site. You need the parallel to that. And if you think about it, these organisations are also supported by artists, by collectors, by galleries. Without their support, I think we would not be able to exist. So you need both to have a vibrant cultural city.
What is the place of Hong Kong globally as a cultural hub?
I think Hong Kong is coming up. I don’t think Hong Kong is there yet, like New York and London. But if you look at New York and London, it took them over a hundred years, almost two hundred years to get to where they are. So for Hong Kong, we are seeing the creative talents these days. I think twenty years ago, I’m not sure we would have seen. I know twenty years ago when I lived here, there weren’t that many people who thought that they could become an artist that could earn a living being an artist. So you see that now, and I think in another decade, I really do think that Hong Kong is going to be up there with New York, London, Tokyo and other cities. It’s not there yet, but I think, for example, whether it’s Art Basel Hong Kong or whether it’s M+, all the plans that we are hearing right now will help Hong Kong to become a very important art and cultural center in the next decade.
What do you think of the sharp growth of private museums in China?
The private museum is a really interesting phenomenon. But again it’s not unique. Many of the museums I think in the Unite States and Europe started off as private museums. And whether the families, or foundations, or other corporations will help support it eventually, that remains to be seen. These private museums are all relatively new. I think they all came up within the last couple of years. I think they can sustain themselves if they start thinking about creative exhibitions and creative programming. It’s one thing to build a museum and you have the artwork there, and people come to see it once. But how do you get them to come back? I think depending on the vision of these individual founders of these private museums. I think some will survive really well, and I’m not sure some will. Not all of them will survive equally well.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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