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Workshop Directors

Alice Jim
Associate Professor of Contemporary Art
Concordia University

Henry Tsang
Associate Professor, Faculty of Culture + Community
emily carr university of art + design

Workshop Participants

Rachel Amtzis, Research Division, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore
“Canvassing the City: Street Art, Protest, and Counter-Politics in Kathmandu”

Jacqueline Armijo, Associate Professor, Department of International Affairs, Qatar University
“Qatar, Cai Guo-qiang and Reimagining Historical and Cultural Transmissions”

Gay Breyley, Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow (2013-15), Faculty of Arts, Monash University
“Uninvited Artistic Connections: From Iranian to Inter-Asian Imaginaries”

Manuela Ciotti, Assistant Professor, Global Studies, Aarhus University and ‘Framing the Global’ Fellow (2011–14), Indiana University Bloomington
“Mumbai in Shanghai and back: Biennale imaginaries, talking cities, and the India-China contemporary art exchange”

Việt Lê, Assistant Professor, Visual Studies Program, California College of the Arts
“Town and Country: Sopheap Pich and Phan Quang’s Urban-Rural Developments”

susan pui san lok, Reader in Fine Art in the School of Art and Design at Middlesex University, and an Editor of the Journal of Visual Culture
“RoCH Fans & Legends”

Ian Alden Russell, Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art, Curation and Cultural Heritage Koç University, Istanbul
“The presence of the past: Art, heritage, and inter-Asian imaginaries”

Valerie Soe, Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University
“Open-source Identities: Identity and Resistance in the work of four Asian American artists”

June Yap, PhD candidate, National University of Singapore
“The ends of curation”

Call for Workshop Papers

This workshop examines artistic practices and presentation strategies given recent directions and complicities in Asian and inter-Asian contexts. At stake is how cultural production is influenced and informed by, and, in turn, contributes to the ongoing articulation and complication of local, regional, national and transnational identities. We invite scholars, curators, artists, activists, policymakers, and cultural producers from any discipline or interdisciplinary perspective to propose papers on artistic practices, organizations, institutions and exhibitions that explore the diverse ways the inter-Asian imaginary has manifested in contemporary art and visual culture.

Just as there is no one Asia, there are no overarching trends binding the diverse practices, histories and geographies that fall under the heading of contemporary Asian art or exhibitions produced in inter-Asian contexts. Much scholarship in contemporary art in the last decade has focused on the worldwide biennale phenomenon, i.e., the dramatic increase in international art exhibitions accompanied by a rapidly growing representation of Asian artists. However, critical inquiry into inter-Asian artistic collaborations and activities has only just begun to enter into scholarly discussions in theory and in practice. As cultural critic C.J. Wan-Ling Wee noted, in the 1980s and 1990s the idea of contemporary “New Asia” was curated into “being”’ as one that imagined “a cosmopolitan-multicultural Asia able to transcend national boundaries, even as there was the awareness that the region’s cultural diversity and history of political fractures made this endeavor difficult.” In the new millennium, the renewed emphasis on inter-Asian cooperation has led to the concomitant realization of the notion of a Global Asia and distinctions between the Global South and the Global North.

What kinds of ideas, ideologies and theoretical frameworks are at play and at stake in the evolving and layering of inter-Asian cultural constructions, social relations and dimensions? How has this manifestation of an inter-Asian imaginary in the past two decades impacted research-creation (art/cultural production), curatorial/exhibition practices and arts criticism/writing? An example is the 2013 Istanbul Biennial which coincides with the Inter-Asia conference, providing an ideal opportunity and platform to examine current categories, spaces and frameworks constructing the inter-Asian imaginary in the global exhibitionary complex and implications for identity formation and the local over the last two decades. Another approach might be to consider how an exhibition of contemporary Indian art in China (i.e., “Indian Highway” at Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in 2012) differs from an exhibition about “India in China.” Furthermore, Asian biennales are not necessarily located in Asia proper writ large: Manchester hosts the Asian Triennial in the UK, and the Asia Pacific Triennial is based in Brisbane, Australia. Meanwhile Istanbul in West Asia which hosts one of the most prestigious international art biennales alongside Venice, Sydney and Sao Paolo, is uniquely situated between Europe and Asia. For the purposes of the workshop’s research agenda then, Inter-Asia refers to not only regional networks but also transnational connections between residents in the Middle East through Eurasia, East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, and the overseas Asian diaspora as well as the Asian Pacific Rim region.

Possible ideas or topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Convergences between Inter-Asian studies and discourses of the Global Asia, New Asia or Global South: epistemologies, methodologies and comparative analyses.
  • Biennials and the Globalization of Art: the Istanbul Biennial and the place of the local.
  • Spaces of Protest: pro-democracy movements, war, and the Arab Spring.
  • Differential Mobilities: capitalizing Asian diasporas, migrant communities and overseas citizenship.
  • Resistance and Identity Politics in Contact Zones: assimilation, friction and hybridity.
  • Translation and Resisting Regimes of Identification: negotiating national imaginaries and other identity categories such as gender, class and ethnicities.
  • The Political Economy of Art Production: arts policy and infrastructure, cultural capital and institutional critique, the impact of social and participatory media in pop culture.
  • Collaboration and Collectivism: overlapping urban networks and artist-activist spaces.