Independent Hubs: Interview with Liza Ho | OUR ArtProjects | Kuala Lumpur
This month culture360.org unveils a new series of articles and interviews titled ‘Independent Hubs / Creative Entrepreneurs’. This series takes into account the emergence of independent hubs and creative entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia and maps individual stories and perspectives from artists, musicians, designers, filmmakers, developers, researchers and other creative entrepreneurs from the region.
Founded as an art consultancy and project platform in 2013, OUR ArtProjects now operates a gallery space in the The Zhongshan Building, an independent creative hub that aims to foster the Kuala Lumpur art & cultural community.
David Fernández: How would you describe OUR ArtProjects?
Liza Ho: Initially we founded OUR ArtProjects as an art consultancy and project platform in 2013. After 3 years on the move doing pop-up art shows at temporary spaces all around the city, we decided to open a gallery space located in The Zhongshan Building at Kampung Attap, a restored building from 1950s that is now becoming a vibrant creative hub in the centre of Kuala Lumpur.
The programme features artistic practices that navigate socio-cultural issues, conceptual experimentation, political commentary, aesthetics and processes, as well as art history by way of its curatorial agenda and ambition. This also follows from our interest in activating new ways of contextualising the art practices of Malaysia and Southeast Asia – to infuse them with compelling and engaging narratives.
DF: What was set out to achieve when OUR ArtProjects was founded?
LH: Though based in Kuala Lumpur, our aim since the beginning has been to introduce Malaysian and Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art to a wider global audience. Besides, in a more informal way, we wanted to offer a place to gather and enjoy the arts while meeting people, something similar to what used to be on offer at the now-closed The Annexe Gallery in Central Market.
DF: How do you see the evolution of OUR Projects as an art platform?
LH: Since the founding of OUR ArtProjects, we continue to operate as a commercial enterprise that values experimentation, scholarship and risk taking. We hope to bridge two conventionally opposing domains- the art market and conversation centered art practice- to develop and present modern and contemporary art.
DF: How is the public in Kuala Lumpur reacting to your programmes?
LH: Truth be told, we have a lot of visitors nowadays. I see people coming in, asking questions and more importantly, coming back. After visiting one of our shows, I like to think our audiences feel encouraged to keep exploring art in different ways. Some are a bit lost at first since we tend to focus on showcasing unique and edgy artworks – not just paintings-, but after a while, they start looking at and appreciating other art disciplines and other mediums such as video art and photography, for instance.
DF: What have been the most important focus of your platform?
LH: Playing to the strength of our existing networks and experiences, we focus on identifying important practices in Malaysian contemporary art as well as producing compelling and engaging exhibitions. We are also keen on introducing significant art practices that have emerged in neighboring countries, so visitors can get a glimpse of what’s happening regionally also.
DF: What are your plans for the future of OUR Projects, do you have any specific goals you would like to attain in the future?
LH: Nowadays we are focusing more on the gallery and its regular exhibition program. Last year we hosted around a dozen exhibitions. The goal is to keep generating dialogue among artists, enthusiasts, collectors, curators, and institutions in Kuala Lumpur and around Malaysia.
DF: What about the The Zhongshan Building? How would you describe this creative hub?
LH: We realised after opening our gallery here that other creatives needed their own space. So we invited other artists, designers, architects, musicians, even some engineers to join and take over the vacant spaces. The whole idea of the building is meant to foster collaboration and idea-sharing among the creative businesses and artists’ studios occupying different units. There are so many levels and perspectives in play here that it’s hard to describe. The easiest way would be to say that it’s an arts hub where like-minded creative types from various fields meet and collaborate.
To find out more about the OUR ArtProjects, please visit:
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David Fernández is a Spanish-born contributing writer based in Bangkok, Thailand. Currently working as freelance arts & cultural project manager and digital media consultant, he is also one of the co-founders of Cho Why multi-disciplinary project space. He previously co-founded Le Cool Bangkok arts & culture webzine and worked as content director. Formerly, he served as cultural attaché at the Embassy of Spain – Cultural Office in Bangkok.