Critics’ Picks

Choe Yong Sun, The Construction Site, 2005, linocut on paper, 26 x 21".

Choe Yong Sun, The Construction Site, 2005, linocut on paper, 26 x 21".


Sixth Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Stanley Place, Cultural Precinct, South Bank
December 5, 2009–April 5, 2010

When Queensland Art Gallery’s fifth Asia Pacific Triennial opened in 2005, it could not help but play second fiddle to the vast new Gallery of Modern Art it inaugurated, where it complemented QAG’s remarkable collection of contemporary work from the region. Its successor seems much more up for the game, occupying the entirety of the space (and then some) to provide a more concentrated and coherent installation that lives up to the event’s reputation for breaking new ground.

In this edition, established superstars like Subodh Gupta, Runa Islam, and Yoshitomo Nara sit alongside lesser-known contributors from countries making their first appearance in the triennial, most notably Iran, Myanmar, Tibet, and North Korea. This formula is repeated in the event’s extensive cinematheque program, where the work of Ang Lee and Takeshi Kitano is reconsidered amid a laudable retrospective of Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh and a historical survey of Iranian animation, while the cross-media approach extends to a performance program, listening post, and CD compilation of Pacific reggae artists.

For all the stunning individual pieces on offer—Islam’s gorgeous 16-mm films, say, and Kohei Nawa’s beguiling pixelated deer, and the row of Xinsheng houses salvaged by Chen Qiulin—it is collaborative production that emerges as the major theme within the exhibition. This idea of collective authorship encompasses Wit Pimkanchanapong’s cardboard fruit workshop, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba’s cooperation with Laotian art students, and Nara’s collaboration with graf media as YNG; it figures in Tin Wun Aung and Wah Nu’s poignant miniatures of inoffensive contemporary art exhibitions that would be impossible to realize in their home of Myanmar; while in Mansudae Art Studio’s stylized, state-sanctioned images of daily life in North Korea, it finds easily its most complicated and thought-provoking manifestation.