For Justine Alexandria Tek and Yuz Museum, 2022 was a yr of ups and downs. Her father, Budiardjo “Budi” Tek, the celebrated Indonesian-Chinese language artwork collector who based Shanghai’s Yuz Museum, died from pancreatic most cancers in March. He was 65 and had been identified with the illness six years in the past. On the identical time, Shanghai skilled a two-month citywide lockdown within the Spring, with a number of abrupt shutdowns, delays, and cancellations all through the remainder of the yr. The artwork festivals ART021 and West Bund had been additionally compelled to shut early as a result of nation’s zero-Covid coverage.
The sense of unknown and upset that loomed over the Chinese language artwork world prior to now yr offered the backdrop for my Zoom interview with Justine Alexandria in December. It was additionally 4 months after the official announcement of Justine Alexandria Tek’s appointment as museum director.
“White—if I had been to explain the yr in a single colour,” mentioned Justine Alexandria. “2022 was a yr of loss and achieve for me. White symbolizes the purest of origins, like a light-weight that may swallow up all darkness, simply as Yuz won’t cease transferring ahead. ”
The three-year-long pandemic posed unprecedented stress and obstacles for the museum’s operations. “Fortunately, we’ve an incredible backer,” Justine Alexandria spoke about her father sentimentally. “His enthusiasm, ardour, and braveness have modified me essentially. I see them as the largest legacy he left behind.”
What artwork introduced her father was not solely ardour, but additionally motivation to stay. She advised me that in Budi Tek’s most cancers remedy, he was suggested by medical doctors to not return to Shanghai for the opening of the Giacometti retrospective in March 2016. Tek refused to remain in mattress as he felt he would remorse it for the remainder of his life if he missed the present. As Justine Alexandria recollects, Tek by no means let go of the museum. Even in his final days, he continually muttered in regards to the Yoshitomo Nara present, which opened in March 2022.
Justine Alexandria joined the Yuz Basis in 2015 (simply over a yr after the museum opened to the general public), turning into its director in 2017 and the museum’s CEO in 2018. Coming from a company background, she started with artist initiatives, and over the previous seven years, has grown with the museum and the muse, which collectively have executed and several other blockbuster exhibitions and important partnerships (such because the one with LACMA and the Qatar Museums).
In 2022, regardless of the difficulties, the museum didn’t cease transferring ahead. In November, Yuz Museum introduced the launch of the second part of its strategic plan, titled Yuz Move. As its first main venture, a brand new website for the museum will open in Spring 2023.
On this unique Q&A with Artnet Information, Justine is outspoken about her new tasks, the growth of the museum, and the legacy that Budi Tek left behind.
Inform me in regards to the previous yr for you and the museum. Artwork establishments and galleries skilled months-long lockdown in 2022. How did the museum address the closure, low attendance, and difficulties?
2022 was a really powerful yr for all, and a a devastating yr for the Yuz. On March 5, Yuz Museum opened “Yoshitomo Nara” to public. On March 9, Yuz Museum went right into a four-month lockdown. On March 18, Yuz misplaced our beloved founder, Budi Tek.
Through the lockdown, we needed to stability the protection of our workers and the protection of the paintings. Thankfully for the Yuz, we had wonderful colleagues and safety personnel who volunteered to remain behind, stay within the museum 24/7, and proceed to assist us in monitoring the works contained in the galleries; they had been the heroes.
Through the lockdown, it additionally prompted us to assume and break via the barrier of what it means to be a museum, and what we may do to proceed “museum visits” or “exhibition visits.” It gave us the chance to expertise and discover participating with our guests via numerous methods.
Probably the most tough a part of all is the trouble and size we needed to go to maintain the museum once we had been robbed of essential ticketing revenue that helps the museum.
Yuz Museum not too long ago introduced the launch of the second part of its strategic plan, Yuz Move. As its first main venture, the brand new museum will reopen in Spring 2023, with a brand new mannequin of “one predominant exhibition space + a number of triggers.” Are you able to inform us extra about this strategic plan and the brand new venue?
As Yuz stepped into our ninth yr, we needed to really incorporate considered one of our philosophies—that artwork could be built-in into our day by day lives. To understand this ideology, we don’t need to merely curate an exhibition or just showcase paintings, however join with guests and stimulate their “curiosity” about artwork, and to additional improve their need to know extra. This led to the beginning of the “Floating Artwork Museum” venture—Yuz Move—the place we hope to make use of the “encounter” to set off “enlightenment,” permitting the viewers to discover and develop their very own aesthetic ideas.
The mannequin of “one predominant exhibition space + a number of triggers” is to carry the artwork and exhibition to you, as a substitute of getting the guests come to the museum. Our new museum, which is able to open in Could 2023, will apply this idea. Whereas common exhibitions are held in the principle constructing of the museum, completely different artwork initiatives might be up throughout the neighborhood, linking the entire neighborhood via artwork. We hope to set off the curiosity of passers-by in desirous to know extra about artwork.
Though artwork is claimed to don’t have any boundaries, it really has extra limitations than we may have imagined. We hope to discover and work along with completely different establishments to attach artwork and tradition as we proceed coming into a digital-driven period of globalization. Considered one of our predominant focuses in for future plan is to implement the “set off” internationally.
Yuz Assortment has a concentrate on Asian artists and their practices. Will this focus be continued within the following years? Is there any new course for the gathering and exhibition?
Yuz has been targeted on amassing and advocating for Chinese language up to date artwork prior to now decade. Whereas we proceed to take action, we hope to increase and diversify our assortment. Yuz Assortment will proceed to gather beneath the instructions of “Fantasy, Historical past, and Future.”
As you talked about, over the previous few years, the museum group has accomplished analysis in a number of main cities in China, and naturally, the brand new museum venture ended up in Shanghai. Is there a chance that the Yuz Museum might be prolonged to different cities in China sooner or later? And even to different cities in Asia?
The second part of our strategic plan, Yuz Move, is precisely how we want to department out and have completely different encounters with completely different cities. As a substitute of constructing and bringing in “Yuz Museum,” we hope to collide with native companions and create distinctive exhibitions and applications.
I had the possibility in 2019 to interview Budi Tek, Michael Govan, the director of LACMA and Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar Museums. Any updates on this US-China-Arab partnership? What’s subsequent?
The partnership was dormant in the course of the previous three years as a result of pandemic, however we’ve not stopped cultivating our robust partnership and relationship. We’re very blissful and proud to announce that our partnership will proceed and are available again stronger than earlier than.
Exchanging and sharing the distinctiveness of every assortment and exhibiting them in several establishments was the beginning of our partnership. We had the primary LACMA assortment present at Yuz again in 2019, Yuz had our first assortment present at LACMA in 2021, and Qatar can have their first assortment present coming quickly at Yuz in 2023.
On prime of what was deliberate, we are going to dive deeper into outlining training and public applications collectively, pondering of an progressive option to introduce and share the exceptional variations and information on how artwork practices form, and the way these variations could also be a breakthrough of one thing new. For instance: Internally, we had in thoughts employees exchanges, exchanging of curatorial concepts, sharing strategies on artwork restorations, and so on; externally, we had concepts on methods to introduce artists and their works from every area, sharing how collectors assume and acquire, studying the historical past and tradition, and so on. We hope to alternate the expertise and information of artwork professionals.
One factor that I’m most enthusiastic about, although, within the early stage of dialogue, is thru this partnership, we may co-curate an exhibition collectively and design the general public applications that come together with the exhibition—really mix and discover the variations and similarities between the three nations.
When did you be part of Yuz Museum? What was your first function on the museum?
I joined the museum in November 2015, I remembered it was the previous couple of weeks of “Rain Room” [a large-scale installation by Random International] and in the course of the last preparation stage of the Giacometti retrospective at Yuz the next March. My first function within the museum was head of operations, the place my predominant tasks had been to assist the museum arrange a sustainable construction and help the museum in its on a regular basis operations.
You’re shouldering new tasks beginning in 2022 and are actually really the one who leads the museum. How do you see these tasks? And the way do you see the museum within the subsequent many years?
It’s a huge duty and large footwear to fill, however I’m decided to make this duty my life mission too.
Within the subsequent decade, the Yuz Museum will think about rooting inside communities, being part of its day by day life, turning into a driving drive in educating the subsequent era of artwork and tradition, and being a witness to the present that may at some point be an vital historic file.
Whats the largest legacy that your father left for you and the museum?
He left us all a tremendous assortment to share with the world, his ideology, his ideas, his philosophies, and most significantly, his love and keenness for all times and artwork. He was a person who walked the speak, and I feel that’s louder than the rest.
When he was identified with pancreatic most cancers, I noticed how he struggled along with his sickness, how he fought with all he had, and the way he was tormented. Within the midst of all that despair, the one factor that supported him was his religion in Jesus and his love for artwork. He by no means did not mild up with the slightest speak of artwork. He flew again to Yuz for vital openings regardless of his physician’s warnings, he flew to artwork festivals regardless of vomiting and fevers within the evening, and he went to go to artist’s studios and museums throughout his chemotherapy. His love and keenness for artwork are what made him the Budi Tek.
That Budi Tek based Yuz Basis and Yuz Museum, that Budi Tek groomed the group at Yuz, and we’re the witness and the testimony of the life he lived for artwork. The Yuz is what Yuz is and might be, and I’m what I’m now and might be due to the Budi Tek, and that’s the biggest present and legacy he left behind.
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