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Bay Area artists trace cycles of exchange in final show of contemporary exhibition series
Double Barbershop Poles (Masked, Unmasked, and Askew), 2011, by Amanda Curreri (American, b. 1977). Screenprinted tryptich on paper, edition of 10, H. 30 x W. 20 in. each. © Amanda Curreri. Courtesy of the artist.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- The Asian Art Museum presents Proximities 3: Import/Export, the third and final show in an intimate trilogy of exhibitions exploring the culturally and geographically vast idea of Asia through the diverse perspectives of Bay Area artists. Guest curated by Glen Helfand, each Proximities exhibition features artworks that question whether objects and ideas can convey an accurate sense of Asia. The series’ artworks also reflect the artists’ personal proximities to Asia and Asian history. Previous exhibitions in the series examined themes of real and imagined landscapes, and family and community. In Proximities 3 artists examine the roles of trade and commerce.

On view Dec. 20, 2013, through Feb. 23, 2014, Proximities 3: Import/Export features projects that trace cycles of exchange, from raw materials to commodities to ideas. The exhibition includes new and recent works by Rebeca Bollinger, Amanda Curreri, Byron Peters, Jeffrey Augustine Songco, Leslie Shows and Imin Yeh relating to trade, mass production and the marketing of national identity, all aspects that generate global impressions of Asia.

The exhibition’s look at manufacturing starts with Shows’ use of yellow sulfur, one of the most important elements used as an industrial raw material, and one that is refined and utilized in ports in the Bay Area and Asia. Additionally, Yeh was inspired by a recent residency in India where she observed the complex manufacturing process of shopping bags. In her piece, Yeh makes shopping bags by hand, pointing to the skill and labor required to craft objects that are often taken for granted or undervalued—such as the shopping bag that sells for 10 cents in San Francisco. Bollinger’s handmade porcelain objects resemble trinkets her father brought back from business trips in Japan.

Not only are objects imported and exported, but so are ideas and information. Songco’s video Blissed Out touches on the idea of importing Asian religions and Asian meditation techniques. Curreri deals with covert signals of commerce. Her barber pole–inspired installation builds upon the time she spent on Yongsan Military Base in Seoul, where paired barber poles signal that sexual services are on offer. Things ultimately dematerialize with Peters’ conceptual use of outsourced labor—he commissioned an image of the sky above the workplace of a rendering firm in Shenzhen, China—a picture the firm created in exchange for fifty Facebook “likes.”

“How do we think about and ‘know’ Asia? In Proximities 1 and 2, we questioned the mythic and real landscapes of the region as well as explored the vast idea of Asia through notions of family and community,” said curator Glen Helfand. “In the last installment of the exhibition series, we look at trade, a formidable factor in Asia’s global presence.”

“It has been an exciting journey to see Proximities unfold,” said Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum. “Through the series, we will have featured artworks by 20 Bay Area artists, and we look forward to future contemporary art exhibitions to generate dialogue, explore connections and link broader audiences to Asia.”

Proximities 1: What Time Is It There? was on view May 24 through July 21, 2013, and explored mythic landscapes of Asia as seen from imagined and actual distances. The exhibition showcased works by artists Elisheva Biernoff, Lisa K. Blatt, Ala Ebtekar, James Gobel, Tucker Nichols, Larry Sultan and Andrew Witrak.

Each exhibition uses the museum website,, including its blog and the museum’s social media presence, to bridge artists, viewers, and the museum. Additionally, on Feb. 6 the museum will present an event exploring the themes of the exhibition, beginning with an in-gallery talk with the curator.

The Asian Art Museum is the only venue for this exhibition.

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