In a wide-ranging interview by Artinfo China’s Shen Boliang and Yan Xiaoxiao, Uli Sigg explained how he built his collection and why he decided to make a donation to M+ museum: (original interview on Artinfo)
“Many years I consistently said that I wanted to build this collection as a document and I wanted to give it back to China. I said it all the time, and then I just did what I said.From early on, I’ve had a strategy in collecting Chinese art. I wanted it to be a mirror of Chinese art production, across time and across all media. To put my personal taste in the background, and collect like an institution. My concept of collecting Chinese art is not to just accumulate masterpieces, just to present masterpieces. Of course you must have masterpieces, but you also need the works to contextualize the masterpieces. They may be considered secondary artists or works, but serve to create understanding. It is a web where each work builds the context. Thus they form a coherent text. So I collect in this way and want to create what I call a document. This document has a true value as something to read that contains Chinese art history from the 1970s to today. Of course, no collection is complete, and of course my collection has gaps, things are missing. I just think it is much better than anything else that exists.
The way I made the choice (of which works to donate) was first to put together the collection for M+ in a way that it can tell the story from the 1970s to today. So I took the best materials from my collection to build that storyline. What I’ve kept are works quite similar to works in the donation, or gifts I received from artists, or maybe some pieces very personal to me. Altogether I chose 1,500 works. I donated another 200 works of my collection to a foundation in Switzerland. I just kept 400 works for myself.” Extract of an Interview by Shen Boliang and Yan Xiaoxiao for Artinfo.
Uli Sigg hopes that his donation will give the opportunity to M+ to focus and research on Chinese contemporary art and to collaborate with researchers and academies from mainland. “my donation will give them one major focus on Chinese contemporary art. Since there is no other museum in the world focusing on and having such a significant collection of Chinese contemporary art, it is a unique opportunity to take the number one spot in the world for Chinese contemporary art.”
He required that the museum collaborate at least with two mainland institutions and have a liberal lending policy so the works will be seen and seen by mainland audience as well.
He also said that when he was considering to make this donation he was interested in cooperating with Chinese mainland public institutions, but it didn’t work out “I would have loved to do it in mainland China! It could have set an example of how to do it. But nobody was interested.” he hopes that Chinese mainland public institutions will think about how to bring support and sponsorship and rethink how an institutions should be run.
Uli Sigg will be on M+’s board and acquisition board and contribute to built the museum’s concept.
More information about M+:
M+ will be the Museum of Visual Culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District. In 2005 the Museum Advisory Group proposed the following Mission Statement for M+:
“The mission of M+ is to focus on 20th and 21st century visual culture, broadly defined, from a Hong Kong perspective and with a global vision. With an open, flexible and forward-looking attitude, M+ aims to inspire, delight, educate and engage the public, to explore diversity and foster creativity.”
M+ is opening with almost 60,000 sqm floor area, of which approximately 20, 000 sqm will be exhibition space. Additional space and facilities are planned to be added in later stages. M+ is scheduled for completion in the end of 2017.
Lars Nittve‘s public forum presentation about M+ Museum: Where we are now and where we are going
Lars Nittve is the Executive Director of M+. Lars Nittve is a Swedish museologist and art critic. In 1998, he became head of Tate Modern in London, England. He has since 2001 been director of Moderna Museet, the national museum for modern art in Stockholm.