Q&A: Qinyi Lim – Curator, Para Site


One of the city’s first non-profit artist-run spaces, founded in 1996, Para Site has gone through many changes since its foundation in 1996. Moving from its cosy space on the slopes of Sheung Wan to its current industrial premises, it continues to hold a leading presence amongst art spaces in Asia. Taking over the then-newly created position of curator in 2012 was  Singaporean Qinyi Lim...

How did you get into curating?
My first job was as an assistant curator at the Singapore Art Museum, but prior to that, ever since my undergraduate days in Australia, I was active as an intern or volunteer in various aspects for many art institutions. I was also once an intern for John Batten when he had his gallery in Peel Street. Nowadays I curate exhibitions, plan residencies and programmes, among many other things.

What do curators bring to art exhibitions and spaces?
There are different modes of exhibitions and curators. Curators look at the bigger picture and ask questions about the audience encounter. Some add to the encounter by extrapolating on the works and the exhibition theme; some discuss in a more rigorous, intellectual manner.

What are you most interested in these days?
Discussions that go beyond the aesthetics or historisation of particular art and its anxieties, and examine the encounter, the types of encounter and the sincerity of the encounter. That and working to achieve the pure adulation and wonder that comes from a child standing in front of an art piece that captures their interest.

Coming from Singapore, how would you compare the art scene there and that of Hong Kong?
Singapore’s development in the art scene mirrors the country’s cultural policy and push towards internationalisation in the 2000s. Having said that, the country relies hugely on state institutions as presentation platforms, which leaves very little space for independent curatorial practice or artistic explorations.  Hong Kong, on the other hand, runs off different audiences and a porosity in private contributions to independent art spaces which in turn allows a diversity of practice, be it artistic or curatorial, to surface and present questions that otherwise would have been repressed under a functional state narrative.

What is the good and the bad of the job?
The good is when you and your work are appreciated and, of course, the reward of seeing the aforementioned adulation. The hardest part is standing for one’s decisions, and being constructive about criticism.

What can we expect to see at Para Site in the near future?
I’m working on the Para Site exhibition Afterwork, which runs until May 29. Afterwork considers the contemporary migrant domestic worker community as Hong Kong’s largest minority group. It sees their stories of migration, labour and displacement as subaltern narratives that run alongside the growing affluence of Hong Kong from the 1970s, reflecting on issues of discrimination, stereotypes, rights of residency, rest and privacy.

Para Site 22/F, Wing Wah Industrial Bldg, 677 King’s Rd, Quarry Bay, 2517 4620; para-site.org.hk.

See also

The curators shaping art in Hong Kong
From independent curators to directors of major institutions,
meet the individuals shaping perceptions of art in our city. Read more



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