Panel Discussion: ‘Hidden Agenda’ with Vanessa Mei Crofskey and guests (Artweek)
“Asian art” is a messy label given to works by Asian artists, whether or not the artwork is intended to be viewed in that context or not. Such a label never quite disappears from view, but forms a specific and silent agreement around the consumption of work. This can muddy the waters between one person’s output and another’s person’s interpretation. Showcasing Asian artists in ‘Western’ contexts is a form of propaganda, no matter how well-intentioned. Refusing to showcase Asian artists in ‘Western’ contexts is a form of complicit and purposeful erasure: another form of propaganda.
The Asian artist is not the sole creator of meaning for their work, but is instead caught in a tug-of-war between individual preference and intuition, tokenism, tourism, the whims of translation and their foisted upon role as a cultural advocate for trade relations across the Asia-Pacific.
Deputy Artspace Aotearoa Director Meijing He joins Vanessa Mei Crofskey in a roundtable conversation about how East Asian art is produced and consumed, alongside writer and arts producer Rosabel Tan, filmmaker Nahyeon Lee and fellow artist Claudia Kogachi. Through unpacking each of their distinct personal experiences and practices, they grapple with this understanding of ‘East Asian art' having political weight and identity, the limitations and perceptions faced within the creative industry, and what some of the barriers East Asian artists are currently facing. This conversation may suggest a similar context in the struggle for other identities within the wider diaspora. What hidden agendas hinder our ability to see and understand each other through art? How can we support each other properly?
*Drinks and snacks provided. This event is part of the public programme for the New Artists Show 2020 at Artspace Aotearoa.
Image credit: Collage by Vanessa Crofskey
Vanessa Mei Crofskey is an artist, producer and writer of Hokkien Chinese and Pākēha descent. She graduated from AUT with a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts in 2017, and works as a staff writer and as the Communications Manager for arts-and-culture journal The Pantograph Punch. As an interdisciplinary artist she has worked broadly across galleries, literature events and festivals including most recently with Satellites, Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland Live and Artspace Aotearoa. Vanessa has a collection of poetry out in AUP New Poet’s Six.
Host: Meijing He
Meijing is an independent consultant, trainer and arts specialist with fourteen years of experience in a broad range of cultural practices, including visual, performing and literary arts. She is a member of the Expert Facility for UNESCO on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. She worked for the British Council for over thirteen years in several countries, and was recently Head of Arts and Partnership in New Zealand. She is the Interim Deputy Director at Artspace Aotearoa.
Claudia Kogachi is a Japanese-born (Awaji-Shima) artist working in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. She graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in 2018 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with First Class Honours. Kogachi was the recipient of the 2019 New Zealand Painting and Printmaking award for her painting Mom Wait Up (2019). Her most recent exhibitions include The Medium is the Message (2020), Gus Fisher Gallery, Uncle Gagi (2020), play_station space and The New Artist Show 2020, Artspace Aotearoa.
Nahyeon is a filmmaker raised in Aotearoa with Korean heritage. Since graduating with a Master of Arts in drama directing, Nahyeon has been attached to screen and stage productions that champion underrepresented voices. Her films include the short films Myth of the Model Minority and Sixteen (SDAFF 2020, PhillyAAFF 2020). She has also co-written and starred in the animated show, Tales of Nai Nai and recently co-directed Portraits, a series of short documentaries centered on Asian creatives in Aotearoa.
Rosabel Tan is a writer, strategist, and producer. She is the Director of Satellites (a series of events, exhibitions, and encounters exploring the contemporary experience of the Asian diaspora in Aotearoa) and the founding editor of arts-and-culture publication The Pantograph Punch.