Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Para/Site: Open Work

Supported in part by the Government of Hong Kong
through the Home Affairs Bureau, Arts Development Fund
Presented in conjunction with a major symposium in Vancouver :
InFest: International Artist Run Culture


Para/Site Art Space, founded by a group of artists in 1996, is the first contemporary art space in Hong Kong devoted to installation art.

The exhibition, Para/Site: Open Work, offers a look at some of Para/Site’s projects from the past eight years that have made this artist collective a noteworthy case in the history of artist-run spaces. It stages an opportunity to reassess the identity of Para/Site, not so much as a coherent entity, but rather as a loose set of open book strategies that have always been mindful of the position of the ‘curator-artist’, as well as the role the quotidian plays in the work of artists. From the outset, Para/Site’s core mission has been to work with different communities in order to question its own social and political legitimacies. Over the past few years, with the increased interest in contemporary Asian art, Para/Site has been invited as a collective to participate in different international exhibitions, such as the Venice and Gwangju biennales. This development has led them to increasingly address the challenging question of how to translate the local interests of the group in an international context.

Para/Site: Open Work brings together works of art and documentation of past activities with the aim of examining the dialogues among artists with different publics. In the process, it interrogates artistic self-determination, and rethinks the relevance of parallel strategies of exhibition, curatorship and artistic practice. The exhibition at Centre A is presented as an open platform in order to allow visitors to participate actively in interpreting the artistic projects, instead of merely observing their existence. Accessible archival documents in the form of photographs, video and a variety of texts are interspersed with works of installation art that include a coffee shop, an architectural folly, and a walk to the sea. Purposely resisting the “frame”, this mode of display negates the conventional notion that meaning is communicated in an unbroken line from the artist through the work of art to the viewer. Instead Para/Site: Open Work seeks to embrace a variety of readings, inviting the audience’s own interpretive strategies and experiences to create the final meaning of the art space’s social commitment. It is precisely through this critical engagement that Para/Site itself becomes an open work of art.

Para/Site Art Space is a non-profit art space run by independent artists with the aim of promoting the development of contemporary visual art in Hong Kong. Funded by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) and private donations, it seeks to establish and maintain a platform for artists and other art practitioners to realize their vision in relation to their immediate and extended communities through the production of artistic works, exhibitions and curatorial projects as well as through dialogue, critical analysis, publications, research, education and cultural exchange. The curator-artist collective organizing this exhibition in Vancouver includes: David Ho Yeung CHAN, LEUNG Chi Wo, Tim LI Man Wai and Sara WONG Chi Hang (Para/Site), and Alice Ming Wai JIM (Centre A).

Centre A wishes to acknowledge the support of its individual donors, private foundations and government funding agencies, including the Canada Council for the Arts, British Columbia Art Council, and City of Vancouver Office of Cultural Affairs.