About 250 works by 117 artists from 18 Asian countries, including the Diaspora are displayed on aprox. 5.000 m2 of the ZKM's | Museum of Contemporary Art (Germany) exhibition space, as the only venue for this exhibition.
"The show's title refers to a climatic phenomenon: just like the whirlpool that one can see shooting from the water's surface when ocean waters experience a considerable change in temperature, the exhibition 'Thermocline of Art. New Asian Waves' makes visible Asian art, which is still largely undiscovered in the West, from an Asian perspective.
The exhibition focuses on the multiple realities and hybrid identities that have arisen in Asia through the effects of globalization, post-colonialism, and the poly-contextuality of the diverse cultural, political, religious, and economic systems. The artists react with fantasy, satire, skepticism,
humor, and cynicism to the conflicts and absurdities of the social systems between tradition and innovation.
(From the press release)
It is meritorious, no doubt, to present in Germany such an extensive assortment of works by artists of Asian background, and in fact there are many impressive and noteworthy pieces among them that haven't been exhibited in this country yet. But the claim of the organizers to offer "the first comprehensive picture of contemporary Asian art production" is something that the show can't fulfill at all. Just a glance on the artist's list shows the disproportions in choice which are not sufficiently plausible to justify. Whereas half of the 18 countries are present with just one participant, 25 of the artists involved are from Korea only. Anyway, it is impossible to cover "comprehensively" in one single exhibit the extremely varied arts of such a gigantic continent "from the Middle East to Far East, from Southeast Asia to Near East and Central Asia". This is also not necessary at all, since during the last years and decades many group and solo shows in Germany and Europe have brought about a more differentiated perception of the arts from Asia. "Thermocline of Art" adds many interesting aspects to it. One should simply concentrate on the works themselves, without measuring the exhibit according to the representative claims of its curatorial approach.
The curator Wonil Rhee (Korea) is artistic director of Media City Seoul and co-curator of the 6th Shanghai Biennale. Together with the two co-curators from the ZKM, Peter Weibel and Gregor Jansen, art experts from several Asian countries were involved as advisors.
The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive catalog:
Thermocline of Art. New Asian Waves
Ed. by Wonil Rhee, Peter Weibel, Gregor Jansen
352 pp., English, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern.
ISBN Nr: 978-3-7757-2073-1, Price: € 35.
Essays by Peter Weibel, Gregor Jansen, Wonil Rhee, Huang Du, Nicole Wong, Nancy Adajania, Eugene Tan, Yukie Kamiya, Pi Li, Josef Ng.
See also in Universes in Universe:
Systematical directories of annotated links
Extensive information system for the cultural exchange among the ASEM country members. A joint project with the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF).
Nafas. Art Magazine
Contemporary art from Islamic influenced countries and regions.
Thermocline of Art
New Asian Waves
15 June -
4 November 2007
ZKM | Museum
of Contemporary Art
Curator: Wonil Rhee
(Director of ZKM | Museum für Neue Kunst)
117 participants from 18 countries