Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
“Cultural diplomacy–for some, a curatorial task” is the title of the third in a series of interviews with foreign curators working inside and outside of institutions in China and Hong Kong. Each interview has a distinct relationship to China’s contemporary art scene—as well as to ideas of local community building and international cultural exchange. The first interview, “What does it mean to be International Today?” was with Kate Fowle, international curator at the Ullens Center for Contemporary At in Beijing; the second, “A Contemporary Approach to Tradition,” was with Zoe Butt, director of international programs at Beijing’s Long March Project.
This third interview is with curator Defne Ayas, who is based in Shanghai since 2005, where she works as curatorial consultant to ArtHub, a foundation serving China and the rest of Asia, and as an art instructor at New York University in Shanghai. Defne is also curator of PERFORMA, the biennale of visual art performance with base in New York City, where she spends part of the year. These multi-institutional roles, in addition to other cultural projects she organizes along the way, have been shaping her curatorial practice. Born in Germany but raised in Istanbul, educated in America, and now living in Shanghai, Defne has a natural sense for cultural diplomacy—much needed to make projects happen in Asia and the Middle East, two regions she is actively exploring and interested in working with.
I interviewed Defne on June 23, 2008 to talk about her work and interests for setting-up international exchanges within Asia and abroad. The interview took place a couple of days after an extensive trip Defne made in Xinjiang—a historically contested land characteristic for its ethnic diversity. (Click below to read the interview.)
Image: Picture taken by Defne Ayas while traveling on The Silk Road in and around Xinjiang.