An interview with Asia Art Archive

As part of our research into A Tiny History we chatted with those working on interesting projects in the city that could potentially change the future of the region, or are visionary in their thinking. We interviewed Asia Art Archive based in the Sheung Wan in Hong Kong whilst researching contemporary Asian art and the people that have been the drivers of various movements or ideas.

  • What is the role of Asia Art Archive?

AAA is an organisation that collects and activates primary and secondary source material related to the development of contemporary art in the region and around the world. Through research we partner with artists, curators and organisations to develop archive collections that reflect the multiple histories of contemporary art. Through our programmes and learning projects we activate this material and these histories. 

  • What are some of the highlights from your archives?

Highlights is not really the right term for our collections as it is so subjective.  The collections’ strength is around grey and ephemeral material.  These are items and records that do not circulate widely or where the availability is very short or geographically limited. Things like invitation cards, limited run journals, self-published zines and catalogues etc. in the physical collection and exhibition documentation and primary documents in our digital collections.  

  • In what way do you connect with the general public to share the stories and histories of contemporary Asian artists? (Methods, outreach etc.)

As a research institution we have three key audiences - academics and university level students, curators and arts professionals and teachers/education professionals.  We engage with these audiences in both the digital and physical spaces.  In the digital space we have a section of the website called ‘ideas’. This section is our discursive platform where we can publish articles and information about our work, our collections and our areas of interest.  In the physical space we run a regular series of programmes, talks & workshops.  We also have an active learning and participation programme who engage teachers and learning professionals about contemporary art and teaching art in schools. The intention with this learning programme is that the knowledge will flow down to the students and lifelong learners.

  • Who are some of Hong Kong’s most renowned activist artists and what format do they work in?

AAA is not really interested in profile building of specific people, so I can’t really name anyone. So much of the dominant art historical narrative is linear and punctuated with ‘key’ people.  AAA is more concerned about the less visible stories and intersections between people, practices, cultures and places etc. that contribute to the multitude of parallel art history narratives in the region.  This is not to point out deficiencies in the dominant art historical narrative but to raise awareness, enrich and complicate it. For example we may have a collection on an artist who ran an artist run space. Our interest is not necessarily about that person and their work, but the context and environment that was created by the artist in their space and how it impacted on the local art scene.

A Tiny History is kindly supported by the Artists’ International Development Fund by the Arts Council NI & British Council :