Asia Art Archive
Established in 2000 by Claire Hsu and Johnson Chang in Hong Kong, Asia Art Archive (AAA) is an independent not-for-profit organisation aimed at documenting and preserving the artistic and art historic output of Asia from the twentieth century onwards while creating a platform for the development of art practice and scholarship. Its mission is to build a widely accessible resource base of artworks, photographs, books, catalogues, periodicals, brochures, letters, ephemera and videos, both offline and online. Although AAA’s scope is confined to Asia, to catalogue and document it employs English as its lingua franca.
Apart from archiving, AAA also engages with artists and practitioners in associated fields from the regions of South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia to facilitate an exchange of activities that include exhibitions, residencies, collaborative and public projects and scholarly writing. The Archive has two primary international arms — Asia Art Archive in India (AAA in I) and Asia Art Archive in America (AAA in A) — both established in 2013 and based out of New Delhi and New York, respectively.
The AAA has worked with some notable Indian art critics, historians, curators and artists, such as Geeta Kapur, Vivan Sundaram, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Nilima Sheikh, Jyoti Bhatt, KG Subramanyan and Ratan Parimoo. In 2011, Kapur and Sundaram’s landmark exhibitions and installations, including those conducted at the Kasauli Art Centre, Himachal Pradesh was digitised by AAA and called Another Life: The Digitised Personal Archive of Geeta Kapur and Vivan Sundaram. Similarly, Gulammohammed Sheikh’s archives are significant not only because they include his artworks but also for copies of the Vrishchik magazine that he co-founded and edited with his contemporary, Bhupen Khakhar, as well as photographic collections of the Baroda School from the 1960s–80s.
The residency programmes and artist grants offered by the AAA provide Asian artists with the resources and time to do archival research and conceptualise projects involving various media and concepts that could be offered to a global audience. Some noteworthy outcomes of these programmes are the solo exhibition of Beijing-based artist Song Dong in 2013, titled 36 Calendars, which reimagined 36 years of history from 1978 to 2013 as a retelling from the artist’s personal experience while also inviting the audience to do the same; and an exhibition of artist-filmmaker Ho Tzu Nyen’s multimedia work, titled The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia, Vol. 1: G for Ghost(writers), developed in 2012 and exhibited in 2017, which used interactive media and video-based narratives to anthologise its subject.
The research and library collections of the archive prioritise underrepresented areas in Asian art and art history from both primary and secondary resources. The earliest resources in their collection date back to 1923, but the primary focus is on art from the 1990s onwards. AAA also supports organisations and schemes with similar aims. The establishment of M+ in West Kowloon, Hong Kong, a museum and research institution for modern and contemporary visual art, was undertaken with support from the AAA.
“About Asia Art Archive.” Asia Art Archive. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://aaa.org.hk/en/about/about-asia-art-archive
“Asia Art Archive in India.” Asia Art Archive. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://aaa.org.hk/en/about/asia-art-archive-in-india
“Asia Art Archive in America.” Asia Art Archive. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://aaa.org.hk/en/about/asia-art-archive-in-america
“Collections: Overview.” Asia Art Archive. Accessed October 20, 2020. https://aaa.org.hk/en/collections/overview
Asia Art Archive. “Asia Art Archive Collection.” Google Arts and Culture. https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/about-asia-art-archive-asia-art-archive/owLiZDvXt9O2Ig?hl=en
“Programmes: Ho Tzu Nyen | The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia, Vol 1: G for Ghost(writers).” Asia Art Archive. Accessed November 06, 2020. https://aaa.org.hk/en/programmes/programmes/ho-tzu-nyen-the-critical-dictionary-of-southeast-asia-vol-1-g-for-ghostwriters/period/past.
“Programmes: Song Dong | 36 Calenders.” Asia Art Archive. Accessed November 06, 2020. https://aaa.org.hk/en/programmes/programmes/song-dong-36-calenders.
Tsui, Enid. “The Rise and Rise of Asia Art Archive.” South China Morning Post, November 06, 2015. https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/arts-entertainment/article/1875953/rise-and-rise-asia-art-archive
Yan, Kathy. 2010. “Conserving Asian Art.” The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2010. https://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-HKB-967.