Para Site announces The Archive Project, which makes valuable materials from the institution’s quarter century at the core of both Hong Kong and Asia’s art history available for public access, both online on its website and in person. At the end of the first phase, a two year process of researching, recuperating, organising, digitising, and sharing, Para Site is now adding to the institution’s already rich online resources, a coded inventory of over 10,000 photographs, 1,000 pieces of writing on over 250 exhibitions, countless ephemera, and 100 audio and video recordings, including new interviews with past collaborators.
In addition to providing valuable records of events having taken place since Para Site’s founding in 1996 pre-handover Hong Kong, the archive is a helpful overview of broader changes in these tumultuous decades, both in the city and the global contemporary art system. It can serve as an example of how a small independent institution could play a role in the development of public space and history of art, through exhibition-making, specific long term programmes, and wide themes pursued over the years. These include the retrospective exhibition series of Hong Kong artists from the 80s, exhibitions and performances on the topic of gender in the early 2000s, the cultivation of art criticism and curating with Art Criticism Classes and Curatorial Training Workshops in the past two decades, amongst many other crucial moments on which new light has been shed through unearthing and interpreting the archive.
The new inventory and coding system enables audiences to easily locate specific items both online on its website and on-site at its physical archive at Para Site, and includes a treasure trove of newly digitised materials from 1996 to 2010, a period which was previously only sparsely featured online. Some of the materials only available on-site include press interviews, newspaper articles and reviews, magazine clippings, essays and other written pieces, artist portfolios, and more. Alongside these, Para Site has interviewed 11 of the most significant figures in the development of Para Site and contemporary art in Hong Kong in the late 90s and 2000s, who are offering personal memories and perspectives in videos now available on its website and YouTube and Vimeo channels: Tobias Berger, Kurt Chan, Chan Kai Yin, Lisa Cheung, Oscar Ho, Linda Lai, Jeff Leung, Leung Mee Ping, Warren Leung, Sara Wong, and Yeung Yang.
Along with the launch, throughout this coming semester, students of various disciplines from across Hong Kong universities will attend sharing sessions and workshops in the physical archive at Para Site, as an introduction to navigating our archival resources. General audiences and researchers are also encouraged to reach out to arrange a visit.