In Press Play we converse with people that work with and participate as NYXT’s content partners. This time we talked with Boon Hui Tan, Director of the Asia Society Museum. They are located in the Upper East Side, and you can check out their video content at http://nyxt.nyc/asiasociety/
Boon Hui Tan, Director of the Asia Society Museum.
How did you start working with the Asia Society?
I was in Singapore in the midst of organizing the Singapore Festival in France 2015 and an exhibition of Treasures from the British Museum when I was contacted about the position at Asia Society. It was a great opportunity to combine my passion for both performing and visual arts, as well as the chance to realize global projects so I jumped at the opportunity.
How do your personal goals and passions merge with Asia Society's vision?
I personally believe that Asia is the future, there is so much happening across Asia at such an accelerated pace that it is radically transforming the cultural landscape day by day. The Asia Society Museum has always been risk-taking, going where angels fear to tread. It was the first major museum to embrace contemporary art from China as a force to be reckoned with back in 1995, when no other major cultural institution was looking at it. Look where we are now. I love pioneering new areas in the arts and I think that is the DNA of the Asia Society Museum. If New York hopes to continue its role as a global arts city, it needs to fully embrace the Asia that is out there, and also the Asia within it, the creative talents of Asian-American artists who are giving voice to the complexities of american life today. I love the fact that the Museum embraces all these aspects of 'Asia'.
What are some great Asian musicians and writers you would recommend?
There are so many but in the USA, we have had the pleasure of working with Huang Ruo and Du Yun, who have been consistently pushing into new musical territories with their work. The vocalist Samita Sinha is fantastic in her ability to embrace and also transcend the limits in the traditional Indian musical traditions she inherited. The writer Viet Thanh Nguyen has written perhaps one of the most moving and humane novels, The Sympathizer, about the Vietnam war. Another novelist I love is Khaled Hosseini, I dare anyone not to cry at the end of The Kite Runner. And then there is my guilty pleasure, Kevin Kwan with his Crazy Rich Asians, it's loud and tacky but so so fun.
Other than Asia Society, what organizations here in NYC do you support?
As a small organization physically, we love to partner other compatible organizations. We work each year with the Lahore Literary Festival to bring it to New York. Another great organization is Singapore Unbound, for which we support the Singapore Literary Festival in New York, the festival is distinguished by its focus on finding connections between writers in Singapore and New York.
What is next for Asia Society, and how can people get involved?
In September, we have a landmark exhibition on the first generation of Indian painters after Independence called The Progressive Revolution. Around the exhibition, we are building an entire Season of India, introducing New Yorkers to how India is changing the worlds of art and business today. Asia Society Museum is the place to really get a sense of the best of artistic expression from the Asian continent, come join us as a Friend of Asian Art. Membership gets you not only free admission to the exhibitions but exclusive programs around artists and collections of Asian art that you cannot get elsewhere. You can sign up at https://asiasociety.org/new-york/general-membership
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