One of the challenges of contemporary art is that artworks may be created for a particular space or a particular time. As a result, instead of shipping finished artwork from studio to museum, for the exhibition Phantoms of Asia we have found ourselves moving around a lot of bits and pieces for artworks that won’t be fully realized until the final installation.
This is readily apparent for site specific installations, such as Sun K. Kwak’s masking tape drawings. But even works that look ready-to-hang may not be. For example, Jakkai Siributr’s Karma Kash & Carry is assembled from existing materials but also includes elements that the artist must create on-site during the installation. We don’t exactly know what the complete work will look like.
This results in a dynamic relationship. Museum curatorial and preparation staff have to work in concert with the artist to make sure that we communicate the artist’s vision while remaining aware of how our gallery spaces work.
For example, a number of works in the exhibition are digital in nature and require lightboxes, screens, or other built viewing spaces. In producing these spaces, artistic intent meets mundane concerns — can we get the right light bulbs? Are the electrical plugs in the right place? Is the color just right?
Each day, we learn a little more about the works and get a better idea of how the museum will be transformed by their presence. But we’re still ready to be surprised, particularly for when the artworks begin to share space with each other and speak with masterworks from the museum’s own collection.
Phantoms of Asia opens to the public May 18, but you can see it first at the Preview Party on May 17.
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