Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past
Asian Art Museum
May 18–September 2, 2012
This May, the Asian Art Museum debuts Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past, an ambitious exhibition exploring the complex, diverse, cross-cultural perspectives of Asian cosmology and spirituality through a compelling interplay of 140 artworks from the past and present.
Phantoms of Asia—the first large-scale exhibition of contemporary art organized by the Asian Art Museum—fills its special exhibition galleries with artworks by living artists and integrates new works throughout the museum’s renowned pan-Asian collections. Providing visitors with immersive experiences, the exhibition offers rare insights into a range of belief systems and mythologies that have shaped Asian cultures over the ages.
On view May 18–September 2, 2012, and featuring more than 60 works by 31 contemporary artists, including Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japan/USA), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand), Adeela Suleman (Pakistan), Raqib Shaw (India), and Choi Jeong Hwa (Korea), alongside 90 objects from the museum’s collections—some dating back 2,000 years—Phantoms of Asia challenges visitors to view traditional objects not as relics of the past, but as vibrant connections to the present.
“The concept of phantoms—or ‘spirits’—is elusive, yet it’s felt and shared across cultures and time periods,” said Jay Xu, museum director. “Through its emphasis on interconnectivity, this exhibition provides a rare opportunity to experience those ‘invisible forces’ in a tangible, accessible, and provocative way, with Asian art at the center.”
Curated by Mami Kataoka, chief curator of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, in collaboration with Allison Harding, assistant curator of contemporary art at the Asian Art Museum, Phantoms of Asia is organized around four themes: (1) Asian Cosmologies: Envisioning the Invisible; (2) World, Afterworld: Living Beyond Living; (3) Myth, Ritual, Meditation: Communing with Deities; and (4) Sacred Mountains: Encountering the Gods.
The exhibition includes artworks by contemporary artists hailing from Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Tibet, and the U.S. Many of the contemporary installations are new or site-specific commissions. When combined with objects from the museum’s collections, these artworks represent a vast array of materials, forms and media, including works of stone, metal, fabric, wood, and modern materials; and masks, textiles, sculptures, ceramics, film and video, photographs, and paintings.
Expressing the museum’s new aspiration to “awaken the past and inspire the next,” the building itself will undergo a transformation to meet the full-scale challenges of the exhibition, starting with a 24-foot installation outside the museum, moving into the building’s public courtyards, and finally throughout the special exhibition and collection galleries.