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Move on Asia: Video Art in Asia 2002 to 2012 exhibited at the ZKM / Media Museum
Meiro Koizumi: „My Voice Would Reach You“ (2009). Video still © Meiro Koizumi.

KARLSRUHE.- The title of the exhibition “Move on Asia. Video Art in Asia 2002 to 2012” points to the increasing significance of Asia in global contemporary art. Fifty years following the emergence of video art the exhibition, held at the ZKM | Karlsruhe in February 2013, provides insights into the most recent developments in this medium in thirteen Asiatic countries with over 140 works.

While over the course of global upheaval and ongoing crises the West persists with its political and cultural incompetence, throughout Asia there is a perceptible mood of economic optimism which, not least, finds expression in a new cross-genre discourse in contemporary Asiatic art. Adoption, transformation and the permanent output of new creations are the guiding principles according to which the new Asiatic art seeks to liberate itself from the stranglehold of Western models and strives to become independent. The search and positioning of Asiatic artists beyond local cultures into a globally networked world may well be understood as a new move in the confrontation of the cultures. The ball is now in the Asian court – and it is just this aspect to which exhibition title also refers.

In Asia, and throughout the world, technically generated images of our yearning for reality have created vast new realities. Artists draw on these images experimentally, on the self-created ones no less than the found: of street scenes, taken spontaneously with mobile phones through to the pictorial richness of the respective state television stations. In their works artists document, stage and process this omnipresent iconoclash. In a world full of paradoxes, their search centers on a new location and on a self-assurance relating to the playful, at times desperate attempt to save traditions in the newly emerging world, and to oppose the predominant system with their own opposition.

It is true of most countries in Asia that state censorship prohibits less the production of critical works than it does their presentation to a domestic public. Not only in communist Vietnam, but also in the new, capitalistoriented China and in many other countries, exhibitions must first be authorized by the authorities, which, incidentally, exercise undisputed censorship over public media. In all these countries, the state version of history about the concrete personal experience and interpretation prevails. The omnipresent power of regulation combines with a premature self-censorship and multiple attempts to anticipate the reception in the Western Hemisphere. Apparently, one way out of this dilemma is to offer highly developed skills for making visible undesirable criticism between the lines and in electronic networks to all: something which has been favorably acclaimed in the West.

Since, up until the turn of the century, the video as an artistic genre had always been attributed to the Western Hemisphere, even among representatives who come from Asia, independent video cultures have developed in Asia over the last two centuries. Whereas flourishing festivals, biennales and art fairs have made a few select Asian artists famous among a global public, the question as to the situation of local art scenes and the artists working on location must be raised – artists who, alongside the art heroes known everywhere, are not even given mention. While the big names lend wings to the imagination and prices of the global art market, the critical creative discourse in these countries continues to take place underground.

The selection of works from “Move on Asia“ is based on the large-scale festival of moving digital images in Asia bearing the same name, organized since 2004 by a network of 20 curators and 40 video artists. The exhibition, which takes place annually in cooperation with Alternative Space LOOP in Seoul (Korea), presents video art from China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Also on show in connection with the exhibition, is the interactive installation Global Fire by Chinese-born artist from Paris, Du Zhenjun: a huge inflatable dome within which the visitors can set alight the flags of 200 countries with lighters attached to heat sensors.

In the Panorama Laboratory at the ZKM | Karlsruhe, the interactive video installation 40+4. Art is not enough! Not enough! may also be viewed: The work was produced in collaboration between curator Davide Quadrio, the filmmaker Lothar Spree, the video artist Xiaowen Zhu and the media artist Bernd Lintermann. The point of departure of this work is the interviews held with 40 artists living in and working in Shanghai. The role of the artist in relation to his environment is highlighted – the social effects of his work as well as the effects of an international market on the traditional forms of artistic production. Furthermore Sasche Pohle reflects the conditions of production in the Chinese art copying industry with his work Reframing the Artist. The sound dome of ZKM | Insitute for Music and Acoustics presents sound works of Shintaro Imai, Hiromi Ishii, Chikashi Miyama, Junya Oikawa, Pei-Yu Shih, Kotoka Suzuki, Kumiko Omura, Yong-Joon Yang.

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