Regions of the Contemporary:
Transnational Art Festivals and Exhibitions in 1990s Southeast Asia
5 – 7 November 2016
Yasuko Hiraoka Myer Room, Level One
Sidney Myer Asia Centre
University of Melbourne

This three-day symposium to reflect on critical events for transnational contemporary art across Southeast Asia in the 1990s. Informed by recent archival research undertaken into Chiang Mai Social Installation (CMSI), an artist-initiated festival held in northern Thailand (see Simon Soon’s essay in the upcoming issue of Afterall), we propose three key questions for discussion:

  • How did CMSI, and gatherings like it, inform and displace the more deliberate, institutional pictures of a region propagated elsewhere, for example by large triennials in Brisbane and Fukuoka?
  • If Southeast Asia was still peripheral to the art world’s centres in the 1990s, its artists decisively joined that world during that decade, experimenting with art forms — performance, site-specific installation, participatory and so-called relational practices — that had special currency in the burgeoning global art circuit. But what was their currency within the region itself?
  • Enquiries framed as ‘exhibition histories’ may be able to do better justice to the specific local conditions of art’s presentation and reception, but were exhibitions the critical junctures that precipitated post-national contemporary art, or were they the means to other ends?

This symposium will examine the forms and contexts of artistic and curatorial practice, the modes of organisation, and the importance of artist-to-artist relationships across an emergent Southeast Asian art world in the 1990s.

Confirmed panel speakers and contributors include: Uthit Atimana, John Clark, Pamela Corey, Patrick Flores, Anthony Gardner, Gridthiya Gaweewong, Ray Langenbach, Roger Nelson, Claire M Roberts, Grace Samboh, Thasnai Setheseree, Simon Soon, Russell Storer and Chương-Đài Võ – with convenors David Teh, Lucy Steeds, Charles Green and Charles Esche. On Monday afternoon, the Keir Foundation Lecture will be delivered by Apinan Poshyananda.