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Rethinking Art and Politics in Cold-War Southeast Asia | Panel Discussion

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National Gallery Singapore

The Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium

1 St. Andrew's Road #01-01

Singapore, 178957

Singapore

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On the launch of the book Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art, 1945-1990, this panel invites curators and scholars working in the field to discuss how their work engages with the vexed issue of the connection between art and politics, especially at the height of the Cold-War period in Southeast Asia.

One of the key themes to emerge from the book was a reconsideration of the interaction of art and Cold-War era politics, contesting timeworn assumptions about the impact of the deep ideological divisions in this period.

National Gallery curator Clarissa Chikiamco, Ambitious Alignments contributors Roger Nelson and Simon Soon, will discuss the relation between art and political orientation in this fraught period, considering issues such as artists and agency, the politics of style, and patronage and international relations, using examples from their archival, art historical or curatorial research.

The panel will be moderated by Professor Adrian Vickers, of the University of Sydney. Following the panel discussion, the volume Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art, 1945-1990 will be launched by prominent art historian T.K. Sabapathy. Copies will also be available for purchase at the venue.


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THE PANEL

Clarissa Chikiamco is a curator at the National Gallery Singapore. She co-curated the museum’s inaugural Southeast Asia Gallery, “Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia since the 19th Century,” in 2015; “A Fact Has No Appearance: Art Beyond the Object” in 2016; and most recently, “Between Worlds: Raden Saleh and Juan Luna.” Before moving to Singapore, she curated several exhibitions in Manila and wrote on art for the Philippine Star. She was also a contributing author to the books The Life and Art of Lee Aguinaldo (2011) and The Life and Times of Purita Kalaw-Ledesma (2017).

Roger Nelson is an art historian and independent curator, and Postdoctoral Fellow at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His research considers images, texts and urban spaces in relation to discourses of modernity and contemporaneity in Southeast Asia. He is co-founding co-editor of Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia, a journal published by NUS Press at the National University of Singapore. From 2018 to 2020, Roger is a participating researcher in Site and Space in Southeast Asia, a project funded by the Getty Foundation. He completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne, on ‘Cambodian arts’ of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Roger has contributed essays to scholarly journals including ABE Journal: Architecture Beyond Europe, Stedelijk Studies, and Udaya: Journal of Khmer Studies; specialist art magazines; as well as books and numerous exhibition catalogues. He has curated exhibitions and other projects in Australia, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Roger’s translation of Suon Sorin’s 1961 Khmer nationalist novel, A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land, is forthcoming with NUS Press.

Simon Soon is a researcher and senior lecturer in Southeast Asian art history at the Visual Art Department of the Cultural Centre, University of Malaya. He completed his Ph.D. in Art History at the University of Sydney under an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship. His thesis ‘What is Left of Art?’ investigates the intersection between left-leaning political art movements and modern urban formations in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines from 1950s–1970s. His broader areas of interest include comparative modernities in art, spatial-visual practices, history of photography and art historiography. He has written on various topics related to 20th-century art across Asia and occasionally curates exhibitions, most recently Love Me in My Batik: Modern Batik Art from Malaysia and Beyond. Together with Malaysia Design Archive, he is working on a crowd-sourced Jawi to Romanised script transliteration project of writings on art in the Malay language from the 1950s – 1960s. He is also co-editor of Narratives of Malaysian Art Vol. 4. From 2015–16, he is a participant in the Power Institute’s ‘Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art’, funded by Getty Foundation’s ‘Connecting Art Histories’ initiative.

MODERATOR

Adrian Vickers researches and publishes on the cultural history of Southeast Asia. He has held a series of Australian Research Council grants (Discovery and Linkage), the most recent looking at modern and contemporary Indonesian art. As part of a linkage grant on the history of Balinese painting, he has preparing a virtual museum, continuing previous pioneering work in eResearch and teaching <balipaintings.org>. His books include the highly popular Bali: A Paradise Created (1989, new edition 2012); The Pearl Frontier: Indonesian Labor and Indigenous Encounters in Australia's Northern Trading Network (2015, with Dr Julia Martínez, funded by an ARC Discovery Project Grant) - winner of the 2016 Northern Territory Chief Minister’s History Book Award, the 2016 Queensland Premier’s UCQ History Award, and shortlisted for the Ernest Scott Prize; A History of Modern Indonesia (2005, 2nd edn. 2013) and Balinese Art: Paintings and Drawings of Bali, 1800-2010 (2012, funded by an ARC Linkage Grant). Professor Vickers has supervised more than 30 PhD theses to completion, and has taught subjects on Southeast Asian history and culture from first year to Honours and Masters levels. Professor Vickers is frequently asked to comment on Indonesia and Australian-Indonesian relations for national and international media.



AMBITIOUS ALIGNMENTS: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art, 1945―1990

Edited by Stephen H. Whiteman, Sarena Abdullah, Yvonne Low and Phoebe Scott

248 x 172 mm

332 pages, paperback

64 colour and 39 b/w illustrations

ISBN: 978-0-909952-92-1

SGD 40 (excluding GST)

Published with Power Publications, June 2018

To pre-purchase at 20% off, click here (discount code: EARLYBIRD20 )

Ten essays by emerging scholars draw upon unexplored archives and works of art, bearing witness to rich local histories and uncovering complex artistic exchanges across Southeast Asia and beyond. This volume sheds new light on the significance of architecture, painting, installation, photography and sculpture in the historical narratives of this period and offers fresh insights into artistic production and reception within the cultural and political contexts of post-colonialism and the Cold War, the legacies of which continue to shape the region today.




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National Gallery Singapore

The Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium

1 St. Andrew's Road #01-01

Singapore, 178957

Singapore

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