REVIEW: "Mapping Asia" @ Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong

Jul 25, 2014 4:25AM

Asia Art Archive (AAA) may have a rather dry moniker, but, during its 14-year existence, the Hong Kong nonprofit has become an invaluable cog in the city’s art machine. Its archival collection, much of which is available online, and its scholarly programming have evolved into substantial resources, while its work in education may prove an even greater legacy—these workshops for teachers, children and the wider community show a real commitment to extending AAA’s reach beyond the usual suspects. This reach may still be limited, but an example has been set, and other nonprofits, as well as the Hong Kong government, should take note.

“Mapping Asia” is Asia Art Archive’s first major exhibition at its Sheung Wan home, and accompanies a conference series and an impressive special edition of its Field Notes journal, both of which share the same name as the show. The exhibit is mounted in the organization’s study area, and the resulting spatial constraints initially bring to mind an old-fashioned library display. Almost all the 30 or so artworks, generally quite diminutive, are attached to a vertical display unit that creeps round a narrow corridor between book stacks and outer walls.