Secret Archipelago | Archipel Secret (2015), exhibition view at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, curated by Khai Hori. Endemic by Chris Chong Chan Fui (foreground),1000 Do'a by Tisna Sanjaya (left), No Past, No Present, No Future by Kamin Lertchaiprasert (center) and The Game by Le Brothers (right). All artworks listed here were specially commissioned for the exhibition.
A few days ago, a foreign gallery that jointly represent a senior Southeast Asian artist that my gallery, Chan + Hori Contemporary works with contacted me with some good news. They had sold a few artworks by the artist which was first exhibited with us a couple of years ago. I would like to share my thoughts on some learnings from this with you here in this blogpost.
This is one (amongst many other outstanding characteristics) of his personal operational policies that makes the artist stand out for me. Throughout the two decades or so that I have worked in the visual arts, he is the only artist I know of that is openly committed to such an approach. His commitment not only augments the gallery’s financial resources, but also contributes to the gallery’s capacity to continue its own agency and support the work of other artists.
So, what is it that he does that is so special?
Whenever and wherever (even if it is 10 years after he says) he would contribute 10% from all sales of artworks to whichever gallery that had first exhibited them. 10% might not sound like a lot, but it is nevertheless money that could go a long way.
Of course, he does not need to do this. But as a fellow professional, he recognises the commitment and resources dedicated to any exhibitions organised anywhere. It is his way of saying thank you. He understands that real actions and contributions are needed to keep the art wheel turning. That he is not alone and that he could not be where and who he is today without the collective energies of everyone and every institution that have empowered his existence as an artist. This is a thoughtful way to pay it forward, to walk the talk.
It takes a lot for art galleries and curators to feature untested artists and artworks on any given platform. Galleries and art institutions are not agencies without bottomless financial and administrative resource pits.
The challenge in presenting new artists and artworks stretches beyond costs incurred. Presenting new bodies of untested work, even with established artists, invite various uncertainties. Not just financial uncertainty but also the uncertainty of reception even with a well curated presentation.
Chan + Hori Contemporary did not sign a contract on this 10% share with the artist. From the onset, the arrangement was his principle and verbal commitment alone; one that I feel, is a principle worth emulating.
No Past, No Present, No Future (sculpture) by Kamin Lertchaiprasert commissioned for Secret Archipelago | Archipel Secret (2015) exhibition at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, curated by Khai Hori. Photo courtesy of the aritst.
'LIVE' performance (approximately 3 hrs duration) of No Past, No Present, No Future by Kamin Lertchaiprasert commissioned for the opening of Secret Archipelago | Archipel Secret (2015) exhibition at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, curated by Khai Hori. Photos courtesy of Naomi Wang.