Our Conversation Series features intimate interviews with leading experts from around the world: collectors, curators, artists, gallerists, and museum directors.
My engagement with art started when I left banking in 2000. Just at the time that the Tate Modern was setting up in Britain, so for me it was very much this idea for categorising a lot of the energy that was happening in London city. Harnessing the capital, harnessing the resources, and bringing private and corporate commitment to a lot of the great institutions in the UK.
Well for me once we started Outset [Contemporary] Art Foundation in 2003, we started working with institutions around Europe, and through that I became engaged with the boards of the Tate, V&A, x, and other institutions. Increasingly that took me to Hong Kong, where I now co-chair Para Site Art Space.
I have been thrilled over the past eight years now that I have been in Hong Kong to see the evolution, both of the commercial centres like this art fair, but also the non-commercial venues, like Para Site, like Spring, like Asia Art Archive. I think the first show with which we have opened Para Site new space in Quarry Bay is very semantic of what is happening in the area. The show is called ‘A Hundred Years of Shame, Songs of Resistance and Scenarios for Chinese Nations’, and it is a wonderful show curated by Cosmin Costinas, which includes artists from China, from Taiwan, from Hong Kong. I no longer think that Hong Kong is thinking just in terms of Hong Kong or Chinese artists, I think that it is important that this region produces artists that are really relevant to the world. In this year in New York, I have seen tremendous excitement and enthusiasm around Asian artists who are increasingly making their ways into exhibitions, at the Guggenheim, at the New Museum. It was wonderful to see Nadim Abbas and Firenze Lai for example, included in the New Museum recent Triennial.
I think M+ has a unique position is being able to really create such a distinct and unique museum for the region, and for the world. I have great faith and respect for Lars Nittve, who I have known for over a decade now. He was first of course at Tate, and then at Moderna Museet. He always picks great waterfront properties, and so I have every faith that the wonderful team that he has brought forward is one that can really turn this idea into a reality. I think technology, one area that I am particularly excited about, is an area that M+ can really harness. It is a green field, they can learn from the mistakes of others – not [to] invest unnecessarily. So what I am really excited about is of course the physical building, but also the ways in which M+ will democratise the people and the props within its museum to bring the great art of this region to millions and millions who might never have the privilege of stepping foot on Kowloon.
In my role of the CEO of Intelligence Squared, my focus is really on bring the world’s biggest debates to the widest possible audiences. We had a very interesting debate yesterday on whether the art world is a boys’ club. That’s our 7th debate here in Hong Kong, and it’s the 9th city in which we now hold debates. So spreading across these five continents with big ideas is something I am very committed to in a professional domain. In a personal capacity, I am very involved with many art spaces of different sizes, ranging from Para Site here, to Tate, to Lincoln Centre in New York. In those commitments, it’s really technology that I am most interested in, and I am really thinking about how to bring these amazing props and people and assets of these institutions to larger, larger and larger audiences, so that we can really get the maximum impact for people who are far away, who might only be able to engage with these institutions through non-physical ways.
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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