The Media Man Around Town (And the World)
Katherine Grube talks with Li Zhenhua, curator of the film program at Art Basel in Hong Kong.
Li Zhenhua began our conversation with a gentle correction: he had three exhibitions opening in one month, not three exhibitions opening over as many months. I was reminded of these words as Li’s disembodied voice greeted me at Chronus Art Center in Shanghai last week during the opening of a satellite exhibition for “Pandamonium: Media Art from Shanghai,” an exhibition co-curated with David Elliott in Berlin. Unable to attend the show’s simultaneous openings in Berlin and Shanghai, Li introduced “Pandamonium” from a large screen suspended above gallery goers' clinking glasses and murmurs of conversation. For the moment, it could be said that the sun rarely sets on Li Zhenhua’s curatorial empire, but where it does it is illuminated by his presence on an electronic screen.
Overall, it has been a busy year for Li. In July 2013, Li published his first volume of collected essays, Text, through Gold Wall Press, and, in the first two quarters of 2014, has contributed to four major contemporary art programs across Europe and Asia. These programs began with the Chinese Contemporary Art Awards Fifteenth Anniversary show at Shanghai’s Power Station of Art on April 26, and will conclude on July 3 in London with the opening of “Digital Revolution,” a slate of digital arts events and exhibitions at the Barbican Center for which Li served on the international advisory panel. In between, “Pandamonium” has opened in Berlin and the first film program at Art Basel in Hong Kong will launch with evening screenings.
Li perceives his diverse activities as intimately related, stating, “I have a very clear direction. Namely, I don’t curate shows on painting. I focus on video and media-related art, some of it conceptual, some of it performance-related, but not more than that. It’s actually very simple."
A cinephile’s curator, the film program at Art Basel in Hong Kong includes as many unexpected delights as tried-and-true crowd favorites...
Galleria Continua, at Art Basel | Hong Kong, 2014; courtesy MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AG
Tracey Emin, Lehmann Maupin, at Art Basel | Hong Kong, 2014; courtesy MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AG
Tolarno Galleries, at Art Basel | Hong Kong, 2014; courtesy MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AG
Athr Gallery, at Art Basel | Hong Kong, 2014, Insights Sector; courtesy MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AG
Pace, at Art Basel | Hong Kong, 2014; courtesy MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AG