The Collectors' Exhibition is curated by Ying Kwok, an independent curator who has worked on a multitude of international exhibitions, including the 57th Venice Biennale, HK Pavilion. Kwok has selected works by the University of Salford Art Collection (UK). Their collection transformed in 2013 from owning primarily 20th century and contemporary British art, to introducing three main strands; Chinese Contemporary Art, About the Digital, and 'From the North'. PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai 2019 will be the Collection’s first opportunity to exhibit the works in China.
'Taking the Leap' - a brave, risky or challenging move away from one's comfort zone - is the theme of this years' Collectors' Exhibition. Kwok has selected works by artists that are innovative and confident in their creative strategy and design.
The PHOTOFAIRS team have been in conversation with Kwok to collate her ‘Curator thoughts and notes’, which demonstrate the intelligence that goes into curating such an exhibition...
Ying Kwok: The exhibition aims to reflect the three key characteristics of the University of Salford Art Collection: About the digital, Chinese Contemporary Art and From the North.
I was given this rare opportunity to go through the art collection and select works from there for PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai. The University of Salford Art Collection has developed a smart and strategic approach, ‘Commission for Collection’. I am really impressed with the immediate and long-term impact of this strategy. They work with ambitious institutions in the region and beyond to collaboratively produce new work for their collection. Getting involved in the commissioning stage allows them to have a bigger impact on artists practice; it is also a direct contribution to their partner institution’s exhibition programme; finally, it is greatly beneficial to the artist’s ambitious work. It’s a three-way beneficial situation.
The University of Salford Art Collection is really taking the leap by collecting the less popular works
Instead of the traditional way to theme the exhibition, I chose to showcase the best works in the collection that can truly reflect their unique distinctive quality.
In terms of mediums included in the exhibition, there are mainly video and photographic works, but I aimed to demonstrate a rich variety of the medium of photography. Also, I have tried to divide my selection into two groups: monochrome and colour. It also works well with the new commission from Lu Yang.
There are several reasons why I think it is important that the works in the collection should be shown in China. Since Curator, Ms Lindsay Taylor, started working with the collection in 2013, she has been actively developing the specific collection on Chinese contemporary art. It shows a long-term commitment and that’s what gives the collection such a strong character.
Also, Chinese collectors rarely collect digital work. The University of Salford Art Collection is really taking the leap by collecting the less popular works. Instead of worrying about the many constraints, they actively seek for the resolution for future showcase, maintenance and conservation.
Lastly, the art collection is part of the vision of the university about how to better support art. As an educational institution, it demonstrates the concept of creating opportunity in various channels. Art is part of education in the West, and it’s part of life. There’s so much we can learn from it. In relation to the layout of the Collectors’ Exhibition, I have had to take this into real consideration, as our booth is at the end of a long corridor. I will work with this to enhance the visitor experience.
Read more about Kwok’s specific selection of artworks here.
To visit PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai 2019 (20-22 September, Shanghai Exhibition Center) buy your tickets here.
© Lizzie King And Craig Tattersall, Hallway, 2015. Courtesy of University of Salford Art Collection