1a space, founded in 1998, is an independent, non-profit making contemporary visual art organization and art venue founded by a collective of Hong Kong artworkers. It aims to promote the critical dissemination of contemporary visual arts practices and affiliated artforms through 1a space programme drawn from Hong Kong and international arena.
1a space is operated by the Curatorial Pannel, governed by a Board of Directors. Operation funding of 1a space has been assisted by grants and donations. 1a space's administration is partially supported by Hong Kong Arts Development Council.
Throughout the years, 1a space has developed a reputation as one of the Hong Kong's leading contemporary visual art organizations. 1a space has produced and organized more than 130 exhibitions and activities, and has been active in international exchanges, cultural activities and festivals, as well as interactive community art, arts education, art criticism and publications. 1a space has played a vital role in developing new frontiers for the visual art scene in Hong Kong and abroad. One of its major achievements has been to establish contemporary visual art within a wide viewing public, making it more popular and accessible.
Forward-looking Programs in Visual Arts
1a space has organized quality and forward-looking programs that feature a wide spectrum of contemporary visual arts. Through the operation of the gallery and the organization of projects, 1a space means to create an ideal environment for artists to exhibit with open access and freedom of creation. At the same time, it seeks to elevate the standard of art curatorialship, enhance the professional development and standing of artworkers, and to nurture local art audiences by facilitating the understanding of contemporary art practices and make accessible to a wider public. It is hoped that critical thought can be nurtured and will lead to enrichment and reconsideration of art media.
Experimentation in Programming
The first exhibition venue of 1a space was set up in 1998 in an old government warehouse at Oil Street, North Point. The inaugural project 'National Museum or Gallery?' defined the tone of 1a space's approach in programming. With a television commercial as a prologue, curators, gallery directors and critics were invited to respond to the then state of art system in Hong Kong, and to comment on the hidden agenda of public (national museum) and private (gallery). In January 2000, the original site being retrieved, 1a space moved and temporarily maintained only an office space. 'justaspace', held six months later, invited curators and artworkers to come up with exhibition proposals and progress under a changing Hong Kong cultural environment.
Among the more than 100 exhibitions and activities, 1a space determined to feature various programmes which adopted curatorial leading approach, collective creative approach, artist oriented approach and cross-disciplinary approach. In 2005, we have organized a series of photography exhibition, 'Muse Gaze', 'Collective Space' and 'Walk! Don't Run', which aroused discussions on artistic, social and cultural issues. 'Matter Dis-matter', 'Sculpture Non-sculpture', 'Painting Un-painting' in 2004 was a back-to-basic series focus on and re-interpret a specific artform. 'Corner of Dialogue', an exhibition series started in 2002, has engaged experienced and emerging artists in dialogue through exhibition.
To provide an exhibition and dialogue platform for artists of different stages is an objective of 1a space. 'Tree．Man' (2003) is a selected retrospective and exhibition of new work by veteran artist Danny Yung. In 2004, we support experienced and professional individual artists through solo exhibitions, such as Kum Chi Keung's 'Flying Library', Leung Mei-ping's 'In Search of Insomnious Sheep' and Young Hay's 'Trespassing- Digital Interaction'. In 2006, we have ‘Jerry Kwan’s Retrospective Exhibition’ and Choi Yan-chi’s ‘[Re-] Vision’. In 2008, we have Tam Wai Ping’s ‘Life Pilgrimages’. We also place strong emphasis on facilitating the production of works by emerging artists, 'Three Pieces of Thousand Layers Pudding' (2005), 'In flash!' (1999 & 2000), 'Expectation to Expectation' (2001), young artists were at the centre stage.
1a space also emphasis cross-media and cross-disciplinary projects which throw new light on contemporary visual art practices, originated from different artforms and went towards a dialectic re-interpretation of the media. They are ‘What Burns Never Return platform #8: Hong Kong – From Objective Map to Subjective Mapping’ (2009), ‘Altered Ambiance’ (2008), ‘Writing Machine Collective – 2nd edition ‘ (2006), ‘Barcode + Sound ‘ (2006), ‘Writing Machine Collective’ (2004), ‘Emomentless ‘ (2004), 'Visible Sound / Time Machine' (2004), 'Frame Work' (2003), 'Un Double' (2003), Meat (2002), 'Triple Play' (2002), 'Paintings-Figures-Paintings' (2002), 'Damage' (2000), 'Video Ensemble' (1999), 'All You Can Eat' (1999), 'SiXhibition' (1999), ' Too Much, Too Little, Too Late ' (1999) and 'Painting HK' (1998).
International Exchange and Artist-in-Residence Programs
In 2005, co-presented by Hong Kong Arts Development Council, and, Leisure and Cultural Services Department, 1a space presented a Bilateral Cultural Exchange Project Woman/Traveler between Hong Kong and Leeds, UK. It included seminars and exhibitions 'If Hong Kong, A Woman Traveller' and 'Schema: A Traveller's Approach'. In 2001, 1a space initiated 'IN-BETWEEN: International Conference'- Exhibit Program on independent art space, which invited over 30 artworkers from 15 cities to Hong Kong. The project gave birth to the first international network of art spaces in Asia. IN-BETWEEN will continue in the form of conference and art exchange, to be hosted in different cities.
In the area of overseas programmes exchange, 'Bad Rice' (1998-1999) travelled from Australia, Hong Kong to Taipei. At 1a space's invited to show in Hong Kong are 'Aftershock', young painters from London (2004), 'Urban Anxiety' from Australia (2003), 'Compound Eyes: Contemporary Video Art from China' (2002), 'Synchronized: Time-Based Art' from Chine and Germany (2001). In liaison with other cultural organizations, 1a space co-produced a large-scale cross-city cultural programme Festival of Vision: Berlin in Hong Kong in 2000 and curated the exhibition 'Cities in Amnesia' in collaboration with Galerie Eigen + Art of Berlin, involving artists from Berlin, Taipei and Hong Kong.
1a space also runs an artist-in-residence program. Previous artists included Singapore artists Zack aka Lilpinkdevil, Desmond Teo and Francis Poon(2008), German artists Sylvie Boisseau and Frank Westermeyer(2008), UK artists Melanie Jackson, Kwong Lee, Paul Rooney, Emma Rushton, Derek Tyman and Becky Shaw(2007), UK artists Emma Rushton and Derek Tyman, Finnish artist Leevi Haapala, Riiko Sakkinen, Joonas Kota, Liisa Lounila, Sami Lukkarinen and Erkka Nissinen(2006), Finnish artist Erkka Nissiner (2003), Korean artist Yeondoo Jung (2002), Taiwan artist Allen Tao (2000), and Japanese artist Ichi Ikeda (1999). On the invitation of 1a space, artists create and exhibit, as well as host talks, workshops and exchange with Hong Kong art community and the public.
Arts in Community and Education
1a space aims to encourage a creative interface between art community and the public, and organize education programs and activities to engage local community and introduce various aspects of visual art, especially in strengthening art appreciation.
In recent years, 1a space initiated a series of education seminars, workshops and competitions. 'Living with Visual Art' (2005) successfully broadened the range of audience in contemporary visual art. In 2004, 1a space designed a 7 week programme 'How To See Hong Kong Art' jointly presented and supported by Hong Kong Museum of Art and Cultural Literacy of Hong Kong Baptist University. It was an intensive programme included forums, artists' studio visiting, workshops and guided tour to museum for art literacy, appreciation and discussions. This programme was indeed originated from a workshop held in 2003, 'How To See Art' which aimed at providing guidance in art appreciation and criticism. Another student art project 'Blow Up' (2001) was held to research the popular trend of Hong Kong teenagers and students. In the same year, 'Pinhole Photography Workshop', an experimental teaching scheme, was held and targeted at teachers and students. The project bridged the art community and formal education system.
'Objects of Demonstration' (2002), it was an exhibition about the freedom of indigenous cultural and political expressions. The projects comprised of Demonstration fashion show and Live Music, Demonstration Mask Workshop, Demonstration Objects Workshop and a talk show Big Climate Small Stories.
A community project 'Behind the Eyeballs: Non-visual Exhibition' of late 2000 was a collaboration between 1a space members and the visually impaired. The project attempted to start from non-visual aspect of art and eventually to expand the rhetoric of creativity and exhibition. In 1999, 1a space initiated 'Home Affairs', under the Provisional Regional Council Cultural Ambassador Scheme. The project teamed up household members and artists for creation and dialogue in private residential environment.
With the aims to promote the development of contemporary visual art, to deepen the experiences and to extend the agenda in the exhibition beyond the gallery, 1a space offers integrated program of educational events, guided tour, seminar and sharing are regular programs to accompany exhibitions and projects. Students, professionals, art community and public are all our targets and the programmes are custom-made towards them with different focus. To nurture a creative, critical and thoughtful community is our ultimate goal.
1a space often collaborated with other cultural organisations on programming. One of the examples is Cattle Depot Book Fair held annually since 2003. Performing arts and concerts are also held in the venue.
In 2008, Cattle Depot in March – Arts & Community Online is a partnership project of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and the Cattle Depot Art Festival Association (CDAFA). 1a space acts as the representative of CDAFA in organizing the project. To encourage more creativity and community participation in arts and culture in Hong Kong, the project held for a month featuring a wide range of activities including art exhibitions, performances, talks, seminars, workshops and community activities.