As instances of government or institutional censorship or suppression multiply, how can cultural workers and artists best respond to and resist these conditions?
This conversation with Tokyo-based collective Chim↑Pom, whose multi-disciplinary practice, using video, installation, performance, and sometimes taxidermied rats, engaged contemporary social issues, with “anarchic humor and earnest enterprise.”¹
Following a brief presentation on their past work and exhibition at Art in General, the conversation led by Professor Yeewan Koon, Chair of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Hong Kong, focused on cultural communities, including institutions, as locations of struggle and how the collective’s work contributed to our understanding of the role of art in activism.
Chim↑Pom was formed in Tokyo in 2005 by the six artists Ryuta Ushiro, Yasutaka Hayashi, Ellie, Masataka Okada, Motomu Inaoka, and Toshinori Mizuno. They have held solo exhibitions at MoMA P.S.1, Parco Museum, Tokyo, Saatchi Gallery, London, and Dallas Contemporary. They also have been invited to participate in many international biennials, including Sao Paulo Biennial and Shanghai Biennale, Lyon Biennale, and Asian Art Biennial. Their work is in numerous collections including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, M+, Hong Kong, and The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. In 2015, they opened their artist-run space “Garter” in Tokyo to curate and showcase work by many of their contemporaries. Since then, they recently have been working on various projects related to the theme of “borders” and presented “The Other Side,” a project on the U.S.-Mexico border, in 2017.
Yeewan Koon is associate professor and Chair of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Hong Kong. She has published numerous works including A Defiant Brush: Su Renshan and the Politics of Painting in 19th Century Guangdong, which examines how an artist produced iconoclastic works in response to the violence that besieged China in the mid-19th century. She is the recipient of several research awards, including a Fulbright Senior Fellowship to conduct research for her new book project on China trade art and the construction of Canton as a portable place. Koon also works in the contemporary art field as a critic and curator. In 2014, she was guest curator of the exhibition It Begins with Metamorphosis: Xu Bing at the Asia Society, Hong Kong Center, and she is also one of the selected curators for the 12th Gwangju Biennale, 2018.
This program is co-organized by Art in General and Asia Art Archive in America.
¹ Petty, Felix. “Chim↑pom: The Subversive Collective Shaking up Japan’s Art Scene.” I-D, May 1, 2015.