Columbus Makes Art Presents: Jo-ey Tang on Art and his Transition from Paris to Columbus
Jo-ey Tang is a curator, artist, writer and the new Director of Exhibitions at Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design. The Hong Kong native spent six years in Paris before moving to Columbus in 2017. He previously served as curator at Palais de Tokyo in Paris from 2014 to 2015 and arts editor of the literary magazine n+1 from 2009 to 2014. He has curated exhibitions in numerous cities, including Prague, Shanghai and his native Hong Kong. As an artist, he has exhibited in Paris, New York and Berlin.
His first season at Beeler Gallery, How well do you behave? IN THE FLAT FIELD., opens Thursday, Feb. 1, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. The season continues through Mar. 25. He recently sat down with CCAD President Melanie Corn to talk about his work.
Melanie: What do you have in mind for Beeler Gallery?
Jo-ey: I hope to foster an ethos of “slow programming” that will counter the speed of production in contemporary art, allowing for deeper encounters with artists and thinkers.
Imagine that your experience at Beeler Gallery is connected to things to come — and that all of the events and conversations in the gallery will form a shared knowledge, linked up to larger questions of art and what it means to live in this cultural moment.
Melanie: What can people expect in the new exhibition?
Jo-ey: You might not encounter a traditional exhibition in Beeler’s future.
In How well do you behave? IN THE FLAT FIELD., printed materials from various creative fields will accumulate throughout the season. Things will come and go and stay for different durations.
I’m reminded of how, in my previous role at Palais de Tokyo, simply shifting the opening hours of the art center from noon to midnight shifted people’s relationship to art. I’m not planning on keeping Beeler open until midnight — at least for now.
But I hope that the change of format will inspire repeated visits since each viewing will be unique. Physical encounters with artworks and materials still matter in our digital lives.
Melanie: You recently had work of your own on view at Musée départemental d’art contemporain de Rochechouart in France. What’s it like being a curator and an artist?
Jo-ey: That was an exhibition focusing on the legacy of Arte Povera, an art movement that began in Italy in the late ’60s.
Being on both sides of the equation makes me feel empathy towards the creative process — with its highs and lows. It allows me to step out of myself, both curating and doing my art.
Melanie: How did you become interested in art?
Jo-ey: I was born in Hong Kong and grew up as a teenager in Oakland, CA, and I wasn’t exposed to art in school. So the first time I encountered contemporary art was when I was in undergrad. I was at the Walker Arts Center (in Minneapolis) in 1995 for an exhibition of YBAs (Young British Artists). I didn’t understand what I was seeing. But that feeling of unknowing was very thought-provoking.
Melanie: How did you get into curation?
Jo-ey: I was in between the two years of graduate school at New York University’s Steinhardt School, and I, like many artists starting out, decided to organize an exhibition in my tiny Upper East Side apartment with my peers, teachers, artists and writers I admire. It was the first time I’d live with artworks for an extended period of time, and that changed the way I look at art and think about time and the artistic process.
Melanie: What attracted you to Columbus?
Jo-ey: A couple of artists I know — Carmen Winant and Luke Stettner, who was in one of my first shows in New York — landed here and made a life in Columbus. They deepened their artistic practice and drew my attention to the vibrancy of the art scene in Columbus.
I’m glad I moved here. I miss exploring Paris, but I really enjoy Victorian Village and how walkable it is — especially since I do not drive. I love the CBUS Downtown Circulator. And, of course, Goodale Park is amazing.
Jo-ey Tang’s first season at Beeler Gallery, How well do you behave? IN THE FLAT FIELD., opens Thursday, Feb. 1, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. The season continues through Mar. 25. For more information, visit beelergallery.org.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.