A Short History of the Art Book Bag (And The Things That Go In Them) | Ingrid Chu

The Hong Kong curator, writer, and former AAA Public Programmes Curator explores the international "art book bag" phenomenon through an exhibition and corresponding zine, gift bag, and e-dossier.

15 Invitations for 15 Years (2016) by Asia Art ArchiveAsia Art Archive

15 INVITATIONS For 15 Years

A special programme series featuring exhibitions, projects, written works, performances, a blog, and publication marking Asia Art Archive's 15-year anniversary. AAA extends 15 Invitations to creative practitioners to look within and beyond the organisation as an archive, a collection of material, a digital platform, and a node in a wider collective network. The 15 Invitations take various sizes, forms, and directions—literary, polemic, political, sonic, physical, and digital—and function as a series of 'drop pins' to alternatively navigate where AAA originated and where it may be going.

A short history of the art book bag (and the things that go in them) (2016) by Ingrid ChuAsia Art Archive


AAA Public Programmes Curator INGRID CHU explores the international phenomenon of the 'art book bag' in a short history of the art book bag (and the things that go in them). Using the last 15 years as a guide, the exhibition features the things that go in them—including AAA collection materials, as well as related publications, magazines, clothing, accessories, and ephemera—alongside a vast array of these popular totes in the AAA Library. Chu also invites artists, curators, art book fair organisers, and print and online publishers to provide insight into the changing modes of knowledge production and circulation, and their influence on recent art of Asia.Contributors include Dan Graham, Jonathan Monk, and Yoko Ono for Art Metropole, Toronto, C&G for Asia Art Archive and Silas Fong, Hong Kong, Rirkrit Tiravanija for DIS and Liz Magic Laser, New York, East of Borneo, Los Angeles, Haegue Yang and Lawrence Weiner for Latitudes, Barcelona, and Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton among many others.

Ingrid Chu: a short history of the art book bag (and the things that go in them) (2015-08-24/2015-10-24) by Ingrid ChuAsia Art Archive

Dear Art, What Are Art Book Bags?

Sites for Art—Carriers of Knowledge—Markers of Access—Badges of Dissent—Goods of Desire

Art Metropole ,Toronto (2000) by Art Metropole, TorontoAsia Art Archive

Sites for Art

The exhibition includes select material from the archive of ART METROPOLE, a Canadian artist-run centre in Toronto specialising in published works by artists in a variety of media. On view are 'Shopping Bags by Artists', an ongoing series of bags commissioned by the organisation for their participation in art and art book fairs. Other bags, editions, and ephemera from their shop, along with further related exhibition and programme materials are also featured alongside other examples of bags that show how these now serve as 'sites for art' in their own right. The grouping also underscores the use of paper to produce earlier art bags and how this coincides with 'the things that go in them', namely books and other printed materials such as those in the AAA Library.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Image: Art Metropole and Printed Matter Inc. booth at Art Basel 37, 2006.Courtesy of the archive of Art Metropole, Toronto.

Various Art Book Bags from Asia Art Archive Collection (2009/2015) by Asia Art Archive, Hong KongAsia Art Archive

Carriers of Knowledge

What do the art book bags of Asia Art Archive, along with their contents—those associated reference materials on view and scattered throughout the library—tell us?For one, how a single bookshelf that launched AAA in 2000, continues to grow and expand the organisation's public, research, residency, and learning programmes. Through its ever burgeoning print and online collection AAA can be likened to an art book bag. Built around the recent art of Asia, its motivation is to instigate critical thinking and open dialogue by circulating materials that serve as carriers of knowledge for a wide range of users.

Asia Art Archive Art Book Bag Collection (2015) by Asia Art ArchiveAsia Art Archive


2009—'Build your Dream Museum Collection Every day!', art book bag for AAA public programme.

2009—'What is Your Dream Museum?'art book bag for AAA in Inidia.

2010—'Materials of the Future: Documenting Contemporary Chinese Art from 1980-1990', art book

bag for AAA at Art HK.

2011—'Another Life: The Digitised Archive of Geeta Kapur and Vivan Sundaram', art book bag for AAA exhibition.

2009—'Uncatalogued: The Case of Oil Street Artist Village', art book bag for AAA at Art HK, 2012.

2013—'Sites of Construction: Exhibitions and the making of recent art history in Asia', art book bag
for AAA symposium and screening programme.

2014—'Not as trivial as you think: Hong Kong Art Quiz', art book bag for AAA at Art Basel in Hong Kong.

Badges of Dissent at A Short History of the Art Book Bag (2013/2014) by DIS and Various Small FiresAsia Art Archive

Markers of Access

A number of bags sourced from various locales represent 'markers of access' to the international production and circulation of contemporary art,pinpointing how the information that surrounds art travels, carried by those bearing these popular totes. They also prove useful as tools for promoting must-see exhibitions, established biennales, and triennials in Asia and elsewhere. Bags from educational and scholarly programmes also hang alongside those sourced from art magazines—periodicals functioning as vehicles that combine critical writing and commercial advertising. What these bags and their accompanying materials expose is for whom, when, and how the complimentary and at times competing streams of art, are made available.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Image: Liz Magic Laser, The Armory Show Focus Group, VIP cards from The Armory Showartist commission, 2013. Courtesy of Various Small Fires, Los Angeles. Graphic design:Reed Seifer.

Art book bag by Sila Fong, Hong Kong by Silas FongAsia Art Archive

Badges of Dissent

Art always has something to say. To this end, what 'art book bags' provide is a version of the printed page—a blank space to be marked up and publicly seen, read, and heard. Case in point: books, bags, clothing, and ephemera by artists, artist groups, and cultural practitioners who transform these into 'badges of dissent'. They are commercial products simultaneously being used as critical vehicles, and designed to provoke by those choosing to disseminate social and political messages through daily use and direct engagement.                                                                                                                                                                           Image: Silas Fong, tote bag from doing.hkHong Kong Cantonese Everyday Politics Wearables, 2014–present. Courtesyof the artist.

Takashi Murakami cosmetic cases with Louis Vuitton (2003) by Takashi MurakamiAsia Art Archive

Goods of Desire

Bags have a particular resonance in Hong Kong, a city that is known for its support in the global production, sale, and circulation of commercial 'goods of desire'. Since AAA's inception, there has been a heightened interaction between art and commerce through collaborations, commissions, and the rise of destination events such as international art fairs manifesting, at least in part, through the coveted 'accessories' produced for them. This shift can be traced through the art, bags, books, and magazines on view.                                                                                                                                                                                                    Image: Takashi Murakami, An Homage to Monogold, 1960D.(2012) Offset lithograph. 738 x 520 mm, edition 67/300. ; Louis Vuitton.

A short history of the art book bag (and the things that go in them) (2016)Asia Art Archive


Ultimately, A Short History of the Art Book Bag (and the things that go in them) is an exhibition examining the structures that support the circulation of art and knowledge in order to widen these systems and make them available for a larger public. In this spirit, the exhibition is accompanied by both a zine and a gift bag, available free to all visitors, a sentiment Asia Art Archive shares through all the materials in its collection.

Ingrid Chu | a short history of the art book bag (and the things that go in them) (2015-08-24/2015-10-24) by Ingrid ChuAsia Art Archive

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Ingrid Chu: a short history of the art book bag (and the things that go in them) (2016) by Ingrid Chu and Asia Art ArchiveAsia Art Archive

War is Over by Yoko OnoAsia Art Archive

Is Your Bag a Work of Art?

IS YOUR BAG A WORK OF ART?                                                                                                 WHERE HAS YOUR BAG BEEN?                                                                                             WHERE’D YOU GET THAT BAG?                                                                                                       WHAT DOES YOUR BAG SAY ABOUT YOU?                                                                                     DO YOU HAVE THE BAG?                                                                                                                   DO YOU WANT TO USE YOUR OWN BAG?                                                                                         WHAT’S INSIDE YOUR BAG?                             

E-dossier | a short history of the art book bag (and the things that go in them), Asia Art Archive, 2015, From the collection of: Asia Art Archive
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Credits: Story

15 Invitations for 15 Years is supported by the S. H. Ho Foundation Limited, the C. K. & Kay Ho Foundation, and The Hong Kong Arts Development Council. The programme is part of the ADC 20th Anniversary Celebration Series. Special thanks to Hani Charaf, Kemistry Design; and Spring Workshop.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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