The Asia Forum’s Annie Jael Kwan, Ming Tiampo, Hammad Nasar and John Tain in conversation with ArtReview’s editor, Mark Rappolt.
ArtReview How and why did the Asia Forum come into being?
Annie Jael Kwan On repeated trips to Venice I had noticed, alongside certain changes within the cultural landscape in London and Europe, that there seemed to be an increased presence of Asian artists (or artists working in relation to Asia). Then, in 2017, the African Art in Venice Forum was launched. I attended that for all three days, and became interested in the way that they had managed to pull out different thematic strands, and to provide a space in which to explore them in more detail. Some of those themes – that come out in relation to cultural relations and representation – get a bit lost in the louder narratives of nation that spring up during the Biennale. So I began to wonder what shape an Asia Forum might take and approached Ming [Tiampo], Hammad [Nasar] and John [Tain] to start a conversation.
AR Why is it important to do this in Venice? In some respects it feels like it’s a dying structure of an outdated ‘great exhibition’ view of the world.
Ming Tiampo You’re right, but it’s also a place that brings together many like-minded people; it enables certain kinds of intersections and conversations to take place. If we wanted to look a little bit further then there are obviously other links to Asia through Venice: it is home to one of the most important East Asian studies departments in Italy [at Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia]; it has long relationships through its maritime history. But in the main it’s very much about those intersections of people and intellectual structures.
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