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In Conversation with Pi Li, Head of Art at Tai Kwun: Charting the Course of Art, Ecology, and Society

Pi Li, the Head of Art at Tai Kwun, provides an enlightening perspective on the unique trajectory of this prominent Hong Kong-based art institution. Distinct from traditional museums, Tai Kwun distinguishes itself as a vibrant center of heritage and arts, eschewing permanent collections in favor of commissioning and presenting groundbreaking, experimental artworks. This innovative model fosters a dynamic interaction with emerging talents, creating a hub for transformative art experiences.

 


Pi Li, the Head of Art at Tai Kwun
Pi Li, the Head of Art at Tai Kwun

Nestled within a historical edifice that once functioned as a prison compound, Tai Kwun blends its rich past with modern architectural elements, notably those designed by Swiss architect Herzog de Meuron. This marriage of historical and contemporary aesthetics reflects Tai Kwun Contemporary's dedication to harmonizing traditional and cutting-edge art forms.

 

Pi highlights Tai Kwun's engagement with younger audiences, noting that 60% of its visitors are under 40. This demographic significantly influences the institution's programming and outreach strategies, shaping its future direction.

 

Central to Tai Kwun Contemporary's mission is the redefinition of contemporary art. Through showcasing diverse art forms like live and digital art, and intersecting with popular culture, Tai Kwun Contemporary aims to expand the horizons of contemporary art appreciation. Its impactful projects feature commissioned works from celebrated artists such as Tino Sehgal and Bruce Nauman; with Sehgal’s contributions to conceptual art being the focus of a major solo exhibition in 2021, and Nauman’s show upcoming this summer.

 

The conversation further explores Tai Kwun Contemporary's curatorial approaches, which encompass three distinct exhibition categories: 'New Narratives', featuring group exhibitions that address pressing societal concerns; 'Pioneering Artists', spotlighting solo shows of influential artists; and 'Breakthroughs', offering space for emerging or mid-career artists to present new commissioned works.

 

Pi sheds light on Tai Kwun Contemporary’s commitment to representing diverse perspectives, particularly from the Asian region. The institution actively explores themes like digital ecology and regional narratives within the global context, striving to present thought-provoking perspectives that challenge established views.

 

Reflecting on Hong Kong’s evolving art scene, Pi observes its emergence as an international art hub, buoyed by major galleries and museums. This dynamic landscape fosters a sustainable, diverse art community, positioning Hong Kong as a significant contributor to the global art dialogue.

 

The current exhibition, “Green Snake,” curated by Xue Tan and Kathryn Weir, exemplifies Tai Kwun Contemporary's forward-thinking ethos. Addressing themes of mythology, feminism, and ecology against the backdrop of escalating extreme weather, the exhibition features over 30 artists and collectives from 20 countries, showcasing more than 60 works, including 16 new commissions. This timely show, coinciding with Art Basel Hong Kong, offers compelling narratives on the human-nature relationship, highlighting art's capacity to reshape societal views and inspire positive change.

 

Tai Kwun Contemporary redefines contemporary art, engages with diverse audiences, and confronts critical global issues with unwavering courage. In doing so, Tai Kwun kindles a beacon of inspiration, guiding us towards a future where art transcends boundaries, fires the imagination, and ushers in a world more beautiful than we ever dared to dream.


Exhibition view of Green Snake: women-centred ecologies.

20 December 2023 - 1 April 2024, Tai Kwun Contemporary

Photography by Kwan Sheung Chi

Courtesy of Tai Kwun


Exhibition view of Green Snake: women-centred ecologies.

20 December 2023 - 1 April 2024, Tai Kwun Contemporary

Photography by Kwan Sheung Chi

Courtesy of Tai Kwun


Yussef Agbo-Ola, MIKA — 8 ROOT TEMPLE (2023)

Tabita Rezaire, The serpent’s tongue (2023), Walking meditation

Commissioned by Tai Kwun Contemporary

 

For more information about the current exhibition “Green Snake” in Tai Kwun, please visit https://www.taikwun.hk/en/programme/detail/green-snake-women-centred-ecologies/1319


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