Regions of the contemporary: Transnational art festivals and exhibitions in 1990s Southeast Asia

Join us in Melbourne for a three-day symposium to reflect on the pivotal, artist-run events that engendered a transnational contemporary art circuit in Southeast Asia in the 1990s. Informed by recent archival research undertaken into Chiang Mai Social Installation (CMSI), an art festival held in northern Thailand, we propose three key questions for discussion during the event:

–Though Southeast Asia was still peripheral to the international art world of the 1990s, its artists decisively joined that world during that decade, experimenting with art form—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?

–How did CMSI, and gatherings like it, inform and displace the more deliberate, institutional pictures of a region propagated elsewhere, for example by the large triennials (and collections) held in Brisbane and Fukuoka?

–Enquiries framed as “exhibition histories” might 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 in this part of the world, 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.

It is co-organised by Afterall and the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne. It will test ideas for forthcoming books in the Afterall’s “Exhibition Histories” series, produced in collaboration with the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

Confirmed speakers 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.

For a detailed programme please visit the Afterall site.

This is a free, non-ticketed event and open to all.

In accompaniment, Simon Soon’s essay “Images Without Bodies: Chiang Mai Social Installation and the Art History of Cooperative Suffering” will be published in the upcoming issue of Afterall.

To register your interest and for further information, please email Louis Hartnoll:

Transnational Art Festivals and Exhibitions in 1990s Southeast Asia

November 5–7, 2016
University of Melbourne (organized by Afterall)
Sidney Myer Asia Centre, Yasuko Hiraoka Myer Room, Level One
Victoria 3010, Australia

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