Mobility ‧ Masters

CatchUP with Kurt Tong

#CatchUP with Kurt Tong, winner of WMA Masters – ‘Mobility’ 
WMA: W, K: Kurt Tong
W: What project are you working on lately? 
K: This year was shaping up to be a busy year in terms of exhibitions, but then the pandemic hit and I spent most of the last 6 months at home when all the exhibitions/jobs and sales were cancelled. I did get to spend time with my family and homeschooling my children, occasionally breaking up fights! I will be showing ‘Combing for Ice and Jade’ in Singapore and in the Netherlands later this year and showing ‘Sweet Water Bitter Earth’ at Photo London.
With regards to making new work, I am currently working on a couple of new projects. One is a long term commission by an Austrian Art Foundation, I have been researching and working on a project about the Krampus in the Tyrol region. I did the first trip there in February and will be returning for Krampus Night in December. An exhibition and book will be launched in Innsbruck in October 2021. I will also be working with a local musician and the opening will be of a series of concerts inspired by the work.
I am also happy to say that I have just been chosen as one of eight nominees for the Prix Elysée in Switzerland for my next self initiated project, the working title is ‘Dear Franklin’. It’s a tragic love story set in 1930s and 1940s China, dealing with war, forced migration, social mobility, tragic loss, colonialism and a ghost marriage. The narrative of this project is driven by letters sent to the protagonist of the story. This project has been a long and slow process and I am really pleased that the nomination will give me a goal and timeline to work towards and finalise so much materials that I have been producing in the past couple of years.
W: You like developing new work with archives, what are the biggest challenges / limitations?
K: I don’t necessarily set out to make new work out of archival materials but the projects that I have used archives seem to be what I am more known for.
I do a lot of research for my projects and inevitably, lots of the research materials make it onto the final work. Personally, I would only use archival materials instead of a new image if it conveys the point better than I could, so I don’t see it as a limitation but as a bonus!
W: Do you have any advice for those artists who would like to do the same?
K: Really do your research and understand what the archival materials represent. They are often fascinating to look at but that alone would not carry a project.
Throwback of Kurt’s solo exhibition in Arles