Artists reading at the Library of Zhejiang Academy, circa 1979-1980. Image by Cici Wu. Courtesy of the Joan Lebold Cohen Archive.
Image of Artists reading at the Library of Zhejiang Academy, circa 1979-1980.


Secrets of Reading: In Conversation with Bahar Behbahani and Tishan Hsu

September 20, 2019
AAA in A, '09-'21

43 Remsen St. Brooklyn, NY

As a creative form, the book is the synthesis of a writer’s thoughts and the use of language to express them. What changes when a visual artist engages with a writer’s work? What kinds of connections occur when two creative souls encounter each other? We hosted an intimate conversation between visual artists Bahar Behbahani and Tishan Hsu on two texts that have significantly influenced their practice, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience by Yi-Fu Tuan and A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guttari, respectively. In this conversation we joined in an exploration of the space in between the presence and absence of the artist, the author, the book and the artwork, and its potential to form a site where the historical, the personal, the mystical, and the spiritual meet and weave.

This event marked the closing celebration of the Under the Influence: A Traveling Library of Books that Inspire Artists installation that was presented at Asia Art Archive in America throughout the summer 2019. The conversation was moderated by AAA-A’s Furen Dai and Cici Wu and was followed by a reception in the garden.

Bahar Behbahani works in a range of media—such as painting, video, installation and performative talks—to layer Western archival matters, cartography, horticultural history, and our contemporary position into a new hybrid narrative. Through her research-based practice she approaches landscape as a metaphor for politics and poetics. She has held solo exhibitions at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College and Thomas Erben Gallery, New York. Her work has been presented in numerous group exhibitions including EMPAC, Troy, NY and the 11th Shanghai Biennale. Behbahani is a recipient of a 2019 Creative Capital award and participated in The Brown Foundation Fellows Program at the Dora Maar Hous in Ménerbes, France, among others. She earned her BFA in Painting from Alzahara University and her MFA in Painting from Azad University of Art, both in Tehran, Iran.

Tishan Hsu was born in Boston, Massachusetts and studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received his B.S.A.D. in 1973 and M.Arch. in 1975. He moved to New York in 1979, where he currently resides. Hsu first showed in New York at the Pat Hearn Gallery. Since 1985, Hsu has shown extensively in the US, Europe, and Mexico with works in many public and private collections. From 2013-2016, Hsu maintained a studio in Shanghai, China, where he worked on a project using historical photographs discovered in photo albums of his extended family. His work has included paintings, interactive digital media projections, and sculpture. Selected public collections include Metropolitan Museum, New York, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Hsu was a Professor of Visual Arts at Sarah Lawrence College, and a visiting professor at Pratt Institute and Harvard University.

Furen Dai is an artist and the Collection and Program Assistant at Asia Art Archive in America. Her artistic practice has focused largely on the economy of cultural industry, and how languages lose function, usage, and history. Dai’s hybrid art practice utilizes video, sound, sculpture, painting and collaboration. Her years as a professional translator and interest in linguistic studies have guided her artistic practice since 2015. She has exhibited work at the National Art Center, Tokyo; Athens Digital Arts Festival, Greece; International Video Art Festival Now&After, Moscow, Russia; and Edinburgh Artists’ Moving Image Festival, Scotland, amongst others. She is currently a resident of the International Studio & Curatorial Program.

Cici Wu is an artist and the Research Assistant at Asia Art Archive in America. She received her BA from School of Creative Media, the City University of Hong Kong. In 2013, she moved to the United States, where she earned an MFA in Sculpture from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She has had solo exhibitions at 47 Canal, New York, Bonnevalle, Noisy-le-Sec, France, Empty Gallery, Hong Kong and has participated in group exhibitions at Interstates Project, New York, Para Site, Hong Kong, and Triangle Art Association, New York. She has co-founded PRACTICE: a studio, residency, and exhibition space based in New York. She has been AIR at Queens Museum, New York, Seawitch, Hong Kong and Taipei Artist Village, Taiwan.