No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia
No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia
The Asia Society Hong Kong Center will present No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, the inaugural touring exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, from October 30, 2013, to February 16, 2014. Featuring recent work by 13 artists from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, No Country presents some of the most compelling and innovative voices in South and Southeast Asia today. The exhibition was first seen in New York at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (February 22–May 22, 2013) as part of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, a multi-year collaboration that charts contemporary art practice in three geographic regions—South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa—and encompasses curatorial residencies, international touring exhibitions, audience-driven educational programming, and acquisitions for the Guggenheim’s permanent collection. All works have been newly acquired for the Guggenheim’s collection under the auspices of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund. Following its presentation in Hong Kong, the exhibition will travel to Singapore.
No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia was curated by June Yap, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, South and Southeast Asia, with assistance from Helen Hsu, Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and guidance from Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, and Joan Young, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, are providing curatorial oversight for the entire multi-year Initiative. Dominique Chan, Exhibition Curator, and Sharon Chan, Curatorial Officer, Asia Society Hong Kong Center will work closely with June Yap and the Guggenheim curatorial team in staging the exhibition in Hong Kong.
The exhibition—the title of which was drawn from the opening line of W.B. Yeats’s Sailing to Byzantium (1928), which was also adopted by Cormac McCarthy for his novel No Country for Old Men (2005)—proposes an understanding of South and Southeast Asia that transcends physical and political borders. The historical narrative of South and Southeast Asia stretches from the era of its ancient kingdoms and empires to that of today’s nation-states. The region is marked by traces of colonization, division, and intervention, events and processes that are inscribed in cultural memory. South and Southeast Asia is also home to numerous influential faiths, religions, and ethical codes, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.
Adapted in collaboration with the Asia Society Hong Kong Center, and drawing on the central themes of cultural, historical, and political representation within the New York exhibition, the presentation in Hong Kong places added emphasis on the impact of South and Southeast Asian spiritual and moral teachings on the shaping of the region’s communities. No Country investigates the variety of contemporary artistic practice in this diverse region and demonstrates how the artists represented in the exhibition move beyond reductive representation to reflect on the manifestations and effects of belief.
Featuring 18 works by 13 artists, the exhibition includes painting, sculpture, photography, video, and mixed media. The artists in the Hong Kong presentation are: Aung Myint (b. 1946, Yangon, Myanmar), Bani Abidi (b. 1971, Karachi, Pakistan), Reza Afisina (b. 1977, Bandung, Indonesia), Khadim Ali (b. 1978, Quetta, Pakistan), Shilpa Gupta (b. 1976, Mumbai, India), Vincent Leong (b. 1979, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Tayeba Begum Lipi (b. 1969, Gaibandha, Bangladesh), Tuan Andrew Nguyen (b. 1976, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam), Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook (b. 1957, Trad, Thailand), Vandy Rattana (b. 1980, Phnom Penh, Cambodia), Norberto Roldan (b. 1953, Roxas City, Philippines), Tang Da Wu (b. 1943, Singapore), and Truong Tan (b. 1963, Hanoi, Vietnam).
Expanding the Dialogue, On the Ground and Online
As part of its mission to encourage cross-cultural dialogue about contemporary art and cultural practice, the Guggenheim is presenting an extensive and innovative series of discussions and commentaries, in collaboration with educators at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center. Programs seek to provide inclusive learning opportunities that enable a diverse constituency of young people, families, and adults to enjoy meaningful encounters with Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative programs. Through a dynamic process of cultural and professional exchange, the direct involvement of artists, the creative integration of technology, and an extensive range of programs in the visual arts, the education program will provide a vital international forum for inquiry and discourse. Visit guggenheim.org/MAP.
Bani Abidi was born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1971. She studied painting and printmaking, earning a BFA from the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan, in 1994. She later attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, earning an MFA in 1999. She completed residencies with the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (2000), Fukuoka Art Exchange Program, Japan (2005), and DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program (2011–12). Her early engagement with video, beginning at the Art Institute, led to the incorporation of performance and photography into her work. These mediums have provided Abidi with potent, sometimes subversive means to address problems of nationalism—specifically those surrounding the Indian-Pakistani conflict and the violent legacy of the 1947 partition dividing the two countries—and their uneven representation in the mass media. She is particularly interested in how these issues affect everyday life and individual experience.
One of Abidi’s earliest videos, Mangoes (1999), reveals her barbed sense of humor. Two women—one Indian, one Pakistani, both played by the artist—eat mangoes and reminisce about their childhoods. Soon, however, their amiable chatter escalates into competitive boasting about the fruit grown in their respective homelands, which they reference from memory as expatriates. The artist uses a similar tactic in the two-channel video The News (2001). Here, a Pakistani and an Indian newscaster, again both performed by Abidi, issue divergent reports of the same event, based on a familiar joke. In addition to video, Abidi also works with photography, digital imaging, and installation. For Karachi—Series 1 (2009), she photographed non-Muslim Pakistanis in the street at dusk during the holy month of Ramadan, when the metropolis is quiet as Muslims sit down to break their fast. Abidi renders visible the Hindu and Christian minorities, which together constitute less than five per cent of the population, acknowledging that the city is their home too by inviting them to carry out mundane domestic activities—reading a newspaper, ironing, arranging flowers—in public space. These are ambivalent portraits, each labeled with the subject’s name, time, and date, as if they were documents of surveillance. The figures are shot from behind at a wide angle, the light of the setting sun heightening the oddity of their interpolation into the streetscape—as does the images’ lightbox presentation. But while politics and cultural critique pervade Abidi’s oeuvre, aesthetics remain her primary concern; these works may act as catalysts, but the responsibility for real change ultimately resides with the viewer.
Solo exhibitions of Abidi’s work have been presented at V. M. Art Gallery, Karachi (2006 and 2010); Oberwelt, Stuttgart (2006); Gallery TPW, Toronto (2007); Gallery SKE, Bangalore (2008); Green Cardamom, London (2008 and 2010); Project 88, Mumbai (2010); Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom (2011); and Experimenter, Kolkata (2012–13). Important group exhibitions include: Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial (2005); Thermocline of Art: New Asian Waves, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (2007); Annual Report: A Year in Exhibitions, Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (2008); Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan, Asia Society, New York (2009); The Spectacle of the Everyday, Lyon Biennial, France (2009); Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, and Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2010); The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds After 1989, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (2011); Making Normative Orders: Demonstrations of Power, Doubt and Protest, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt (2012); and Documenta 13 (2012). Abidi lives and works between Karachi and New Delhi.
Reza Afisina was born in 1977 in Bandung, Indonesia. He studied cinematography—specifically sound recording for film and documentary features—at Jakarta Institute of the Arts, Indonesia (1995–99). He was an artist in residence at KHOJ International Artists’ Association, New Delhi, in 2004. Afisina is a member of the Jakarta-based artists’ collective ruangrupa (est. 2000), a nonprofit organization focused on supporting art initiatives in an urban context through research, collaboration, workshops, exhibitions, and publications. He served as the program coordinator for ruangrupa from 2003–07 and has been the artistic director of their ArtLab since its inception in 2008.
Employing video, perfomance, and installation, and often using his own body in his work, Afisina explores the manifestations and meanings of physical and emotional pain. In his performance and video An Easy Time With Parenthood (2008), a text from Julio Cortazar’s short story “Las babas del diablo” is tattooed on the artist’s arm alongside a biblical text in Latin. Experimenting with word as image, Afisina theorizes that pain is not only indicative of violence, but can also function as a reflection of honesty, freedom, and even happiness. His earlier video My Chemical Sisters (2004), which depicts cosmetics ingredients against images of advertising models, explores pain in a different way. Made mostly from chemicals, the cosmetics here embody a disjunction between our desire for physical perfection and the toxins we employ in the hope of achieving it. Afisina’s later installation, Letters to International Curators (2008), departs from his established thematic to focus instead on the concept of written and personal interaction and the communicative limits of language. The exhibited work consists of documentation of a series of exhibition proposals by the artist that was sent to curators of his acquaintance worldwide.
Afisina has performed and screened his work in such group exhibitions as OK Video Festival in Jakarta (2003, 2010, and 2011); Taboo and Transgression in Contemporary Indonesian Art, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (2005); Simple Actions and Aberrant Behaviors, PICA, Portland (2007), Jakarta Biennial (2009); Move on Asia: The End of Video Art, Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong (2010 and 2012); Moving Image from Indonesia, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (2011); and City Net Asia, Seoul Museum of Art (2011). Afisina lives and works in Jakarta.
Khadim Ali was born in 1978 in Quetta, Pakistan, as an Afghan refugee. His family, belonging to the Hazara minority, fled Afghanistan to escape Taliban persecution. From 1998–99, he studied mural painting and calligraphy in Tehran, Iran. He earned a BFA at the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan (2003), where he studied traditional miniature painting. He completed artist residencies in Japan through the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (2006) and Arts Initiative Tokyo (2007). Ali moved to Sydney in 2010 and earned an MFA at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales (2012).
Haunted by the March 2001 Taliban destruction of two monumental 6th-century Buddhas in Bamiyan, Afghanistan (the Ali family’s ancestral home, located 150 miles northwest of Kabul), the artist returned to the town in 2006 and conducted The Bamiyan drawing project as part of his participation in the 5th Asia Pacific Triennial, Brisbane, Australia (2006), for which he invited area children to depict local stories. Then, during his residency in Fukuoka later that year, he asked Japanese children to respond to the Afghan children’s images. The drawings became the basis of the series Absent Kitchen (2006– ). Ali returned to Bamiyan again in April 2008 and embarked on a collaboration with Lebanese-Canadian artist Jayce Salloum titled the heart that has no love/pain/generosity is not a heart (2008–11). This poetic documentary account of the ruins of the Bamiyan Buddhas and the valley’s current conditions takes the form of a layered installation of photographs, videos, documents, objects, and paintings.
In 2012, Ali presented five paintings at Documenta 13, including one at the quinquennial’s first presentation in Kabul. In addition, he conducted the seminar “Rereading Shahnameh” for children in Bamiyan. Shahnameh, or the Persian Book of kings, is an epic poem composed between 977 and 1010 by the court poet Firdausi. It records the mythical history of Persia preceding the 7th-century Islamic conquest. Ali continues to be inspired by childhood memories of his grandfather reciting from the Shahnameh, and acknowledges its miniature illustrations as his first exposure to art. He often chooses his subject matter from its secular pantheon of heroes and legends.
Ali has had solo exhibitions at Chawkandi Art Gallery, Karachi (2004 and 2005); Green Cardamom, London (2007); Rohtas 2, Lahore (2009); and Cross Art Projects, Sydney (2012). His works were featured along with Imran Qureshi’s in the Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan Pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Ali organized and participated in The Haunted Lotus: Contemporary Art from Kabul, Cross Art Projects (2010), and The Force of Forgetting, Lismore Regional Gallery, Australia (2011). His work was included in Future: Afghanistan, Gemak, The Hague, Netherlands (2008); Living Traditions, Queen’s Palace, Kabul (2008), and National Art Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan (2009); Safavids Revisited, British Museum, London (2009); Only from the Heart Can You Touch the Sky, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne (2012); and Home Again—10 Artists Who Have Experienced Japan, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2012). Ali lives and works in Sydney, Quetta, and Kabul.
Aung Myint was born in 1946 in Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Rangoon, Burma). He earned a degree in psychology from the Rangoon Arts and Science University in 1968. In 1989, he founded the Inya Gallery of Art in Yangon. Despite the governmental censorship and limitation of cultural life in Myanmar, Aung Myint has continued to make art that exists outside the boundaries of official edict. A self-taught artist, he began working primarily in painting and installation, extending his practice to include performance in 1995. Aung Myint experiments with medium and form to explore themes of cultural identity and personal memory. His practice often questions the place of small collectives within larger communities, both within and beyond the borders of his homeland.
Aung Myint’s series of monochromatic drawings, Mother and Child (2002–2008), turns single, unbroken lines of black acrylic into gestural forms loosely reminiscent of the pietà. The lines’ fluid continuity evokes the intimate physical connection of the two figures. Aung Myint’s work is informed by the artist’s feelings of loss and abandonment at the death of his mother when he was an infant, and can be interpreted as a self-portrait based on the universal theme of the maternal relationship. Representative of his openness to a variety of media is Self-Portrait, a photographic series and installation conceptualized in the 1990s in which the artist is depicted removing his usual outfit of button-down shirt, longyi (Burmese sarong), and sandals. His prosaic act of draping each article across the back of a chair conveys an atmosphere of intimate familiarity and a sense of global connectedness. This exploration is continued in World Series: Five Continents Tattered (2010). Having painted the five continents on a canvas, the artist repeatedly punctured its surface before stitching up the holes, creating a random pattern of scars. Represented almost as a single landmass, the continents are covered in red x’s, at times so densely that the breadth and intensity of the bloodshed for which they stand becomes impossible to ignore. The stitches symbolize the potential for healing between countries of opposing politics, religions, and beliefs, and act as a reminder of the potential for change.
Aung Myint received the Juror’s Choice Award at the Philip Morris Group of Companies ASEAN Art Awards in Bali (2002). He has had solo exhibitions at Inya Gallery of Art, Yangon (1994), Judson Church Centre, Yangon (1996), Lokanat Galleries, Yangon (1999, 2001, and 2005), Shinseido Hatanaka Art Gallery, Tokyo (1999), Kentler International Drawing Space, Brooklyn (2002), Karin Weber Gallery, Hong Kong (2003 and 2007), and Yavuz Fine Art, Singapore (2010). Notable group exhibitions include: Omnibus: Five Artists from Myanmar, Voice Gallery, Kyoto (1995); 6th Nippon International Performance Art Festival, Japan (1999); Identity, Blue Space Contemporary Art Centre, Ho Chi Minh City (2006); and the Festival of Contemporary Theatre and Performance Art, Alliance Française, Yangon, organized by the Myanmar collective Theatre of the Disturbed (2008). Aung Myint lives and works in Yangon.
Shilpa Gupta was born in Bombay in 1976. She received a BFA in sculpture from the Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts, Mumbai, in 1997. Gupta is interested in perception, and in the ways in which we transmit and understand information. Her mediums range from manipulated found objects to video, interactive computer-based installation, and performance. Her work often engages with television and its constant flow of meaning. Shifting the primary status of art from object-based commodity to participatory experience, Gupta creates situations that actively involve the viewer.
Gupta is drawn to how objects, places, people, and experiences are defined, and asks how these definitions are played out through the processes of classification, restriction, censorship, and security. Her work communicates—across cultures—the impact of dominant forces acting on local and national communities, prompting a reevaluation of social identity and status. There is no explosive here (2007), a communal experiment in fear, encourages the viewer to exit the gallery carrying a bag imprinted with the statement “there is no explosive here.” The dynamic between object, carrier, and public challenges stereotypical anxieties about safety in a public context. Also driven by audience participation is Threat (2009), a wall made of bars of soap that mimic the appearance of bricks and are imprinted with the single word of the title. Each viewer is invited to take a bar home so that the wall slowly disappears and, as each bar is used, the embossed “threat” is neutralized and eventually erased. In Speaking Wall (2010), the gallery visitor wears headphones while standing on a narrow row of bricks that abuts one wall. A recorded voice directs the actions of the viewer/listener, whose role shifts to that of participant, while discussing the redrawing of borders and the arbitrary nature of identity. Again, Gupta questions the concretization of imagined demarcations and divisions.
In 2011, Gupta was the recipient of the Bienal Award, Bienal De Cuenca, Ecuador; in 2004 she was the recipient of the Transmediale Award, Berlin, and the Sanskriti Prathisthan Award, New Delhi. She was also named International Artist of the Year by the South Asian Visual Artists Collective, Canada. She has been the subject of solo presentations at international institutions including Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2010); Arnolfini, Bristol (2012); and Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, Netherlands (2012). A 10-year survey of her work, Half A Sky, was presented at the OK Center for Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria (2010). Her work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions: Ideas and Images, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai (2000); Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis, Tate Modern, London (2001); Edge of Desire, Asia Society and Queens Museum, New York (2005); The World Is Yours, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (2009); Younger Than Jesus, New Museum Triennial, New York (2009); Paris-Delhi-Bombay, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011); and Descriptive Acts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2012). Gupta lives and works in Mumbai.
Vincent Leong was born in 1979 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He studied art at the Centre for Advanced Design in Kuala Lumpur (1998–2000) and earned a BFA from Goldsmiths College, University of London (2000–04), receiving the BT Goldsmiths Prize in digital media in 2004. In 2006, he was invited to participate in a workshop at the Asian Culture Creation Center in Gwangju, South Korea, and the resulting exhibition, Threshold 13, which traveled from Gwangju to Seoul. Leong also completed artist residencies at Sculpture Square, Singapore (2007) and Kognecho Bazaar, Yokohama, Japan (2009).
Leong’s first solo exhibition, The Fake Show at Reka Art Space in Selangor, Malaysia (2006), was a Gordian knot of disguises and disavowals. Announced as a group exhibition curated by Leong, the nine artists featured were in fact fictional surrogates for Leong himself. As such, all of the works were ersatz. Mischievously referencing fellow contemporary Malaysian artists alongside everyday characters, Leong spun a web of allusion that addressed appropriation, originality, and authenticity in a world inundated by counterfeit brands, identities, and entertainments. Leong’s deft manipulation of signs and symbols is evident too in the video How to Be Bruce (2004), which was included in the video art exhibition 18 Reasons We Still Need Superman that traveled to numerous international locations (2010–12, organized by Beijing-based curator Tim Crowley). Retaining the audio from the fight sequence between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in the kung fu classic The Way of the Dragon (1972, dir. Bruce Lee), Leong replaced the film’s visual component with an abstract animation, diagramming Lee’s martial artistry via a series of dots and arrows, like the notations of a sports strategy. The icon is subsumed in a frenetic choreography of ciphers.
Turning to Malaysia’s multiethnic culture, whose history is marred by sectarian conflict, Leong’s video Run, Malaysia, Run (2007) captures a cavalcade of the country’s diverse citizens in colorful costumes denoting different ethnicities and religions. In a display typical of the artist’s acerbic humor, a rotating projector sets these personages running around in circles on the walls. Alternatively presented on a screen, they appear to be running in place. In the photography series Executive Properties (2012), Leong shoots from within abandoned buildings. Settings marked by crumbling infrastructure, severed wiring, and graffiti vandalism open onto spectacular views of Kuala Lumpur’s monuments, historic buildings, and contemporary skyscrapers, capturing the paradox of progress and the poetry of the modern ruin.
Leong’s work has been presented in solo exhibitions at Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur (2007 and 2012), and Sculpture Square, Singapore (2007). The artist has also been featured in the following notable group exhibitions: 3 Young Contemporaries, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur (2005); The Power of Dreaming, Rimbun Dahan, Selangor (2005); 4 Young Contemporaries, Numthong Gallery, Bangkok (2007); Selamat Datang ke Malaysia, Gallery 4A, Sydney, and Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur (2007); The Independence Project, Galeri Petronas, Kuala Lumpur (2007), and Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne (2008); Some Rooms, Osage Gallery, Hong Kong (2009); Our Own Orbit, Tembi Contemporary, Jogya, Indonesia (2009); and Tanah Ayer: Malaysian Stories from the Land, Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, Bandung, Indonesia (2011). Leong lives and works in Kuala Lumpur.
Tayeba Begum Lipi
Tayeba Begum Lipi was born in 1969 in Gaibandha, Bangladesh. She completed an MFA in drawing and painting at the Institute of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 1993. In 2002, she cofounded Britto Arts Trust, Bangladesh’s first artist-run alternative arts platform, dedicated to organizing exhibitions, enabling international dialogue and exchange, and providing support to the country’s artists through residencies, workshops, and funding. Lipi’s practice engages painting, printmaking, installation, and video to comment on themes including the politics of gender and female identity.
For the video I Wed Myself (2010), Lipi portrays a bride with traditional makeup and formal attire preparing for her wedding, then crops her hair and adds a moustache to also adopt the role of groom. Juxtaposing these two roles within a single frame, she stands as both husband- and wife-to-be on the wedding stage, a video of the transformation process projected alongside. By adopting this dual personality, Lipi inquires into the definition of gender and the possibility of possessing both feminine and masculine traits. Addressing societal contradictions between real identities and those rooted in misogyny, she exposes the importance of questioning the sexualized structures that dominate women’s lives in Bangladesh and beyond. Also using iconography based on femininity is Bizarre and Beautiful (2011), an installation of female undergarments crafted from stainless steel razor blades. A stark contrast to the expected sensual materials, the blades create a rigid armor, offering protection for the imagined wearer while issuing a warning to the onlooker. Inspired by the strong women of her childhood, Lipi’s work questions the representation of women’s bodies and the history of their social roles, particularly in Bangladesh, where historical and religious expectations continue to determine what is permissible.
Lipi was awarded Grand Prize at the Asian Art Biennial, Dhaka, in 2004. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2000); NICA, Yangon, Myanmar (2004); Gasworks International Residency Programme, London (2005); and Studio RM, Lahore, Pakistan (2008). She was the commissioner for the Bangladesh Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011) and one of the curators for the Kathmandu International Art Festival, Nepal (2012). She has had solo exhibitions at Alliance Française (1998 and 2004), Gallery 21 (2001), and Bengal Gallery (2007), in Dhaka, and participated in the two-person exhibition Parables of Our Times at Gallery Akar Prakar in Kolkata (2010). Notable group exhibitions include Separating Myth from Reality: Status of Women at the International Art Festival organized by Siddhartha Art Gallery, Kathmandu (2009), Jakarta Biennial (2011), Venice Biennale (2011), and Colombo Art Biennial (2012). Lipi lives and works in Dhaka.
Tuan Andrew Nguyen
Tuan Andrew Nguyen was born in 1976 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In 1979, he and his family emigrated as refugees to the United States, and he grew up in California. Nguyen earned a BFA from the University of California, Irvine (1999) and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (2004). He is a member of the artist collective The Propeller Group (est. 2006) and a cofounder of the artist-run alternative space Sàn Art (est. 2007) in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). His work often deals with the cultural estrangement of expatriation and the experience of returning home to an unfamiliar place.
While still a student, Nguyen made the short black-and-white video The Two Tuans: A Civil Dispute (1998), in which he plays both of the figures immortalized in Eddie Adams’s 1968 photograph of the Ho Chi Minh City Police Chief shooting a Vietcong in the head. In Nguyen’s restaging, the artist’s head, recorded in live action, replaces those in the still image and the two trade “yo mama” barbs. Among the number of short documentaries he made during a 2003 visit to Vietnam, Better than Friends (2003) follows the daily life of a family running a small dog-butchery business in Ho Chi Minh City. Nguyen’s videos have appeared in the 18th Annual Singapore International Film Festival (2005), 4th Bangkok Experimental Film Festival, Thailand (2005), and 55th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany (2009). He directed the feature film Jackfruit Thorn Kiss (2005), a romantic comedy that unfolds on a journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, which was an official selection at the 8th NHK Asian Film Festival, Tokyo (2007).
Nguyen has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Voz Alta Project, San Diego (2004), and Galerie Quynh, Ho Chi Minh City (2008). The latter, Quiet Shiny Words, centered on a collaboration with Vietnamese rapper Wowy SouthGanz and sound engineer Alan Hayslip. Nguyen also participated in the group exhibitions Mine, Lombard-Freid, New York (2003), and Eternal Flame: Imagining a Future at the End of the World, REDCAT, Los Angeles (2007), and was featured in the 5th Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia (2006–07). He collaborated on Dinh Q. Lê’s The Farmers and The Helicopters (2006), which was presented at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, for Projects 93 (2010) and acquired by the museum. Nguyen lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City.
Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook was born in Trad, Thailand, in 1957. After earning both a BFA and an MFA in graphic arts from Silpakorn University, Bangkok, she continued her studies in Germany at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig, receiving a diploma in 1990 and an MA in 1994. Around 1998, after early experiments with intaglio printmaking and sculptural installation, Rasdjarmrearnsook began to concentrate on film and video. Her work is an articulation of personal loss and the movement between life and death, approached in a way that challenges viewers’ moral sense and tolerance through complex and provocative imagery.
In Rasdjarmrearnsook’s film The Class (2005), the artist is shown directing a tutorial to a classroom of six corpses, which are shrouded in white sheets and arranged side-by-side on silver morgue trays. Confronting the diversity of cultural and religious attitudes toward mortality, the work also satirizes academic convention, the living professor teaching death to an audience already well versed in the subject. Two Planets (2007–08), a quartet of video vignettes, takes on the conventions and assumptions of western art appreciation. Deep in the Thai countryside, a group of people is presented with reproductions of 19th-century European masterpieces. The subjects sit with their backs to the camera and their untutored dialogue is subtitled in English. Their responses reveal myriad social and cultural nuances, while their perspectives on the works are entirely lacking in pretention. Exploring the interactions between opposing but connected realms—life and death, human and animal, conditioned and unconditioned—Rasdjarmrearnsook presents a meditative rethinking of the meaning of periphery.
Rasdjarmrearnsook’s work has been installed in solo presentations at international institutions including the National Gallery, Bangkok (1987, 1992, 1994, 1995, and 2002); Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm (2003); Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach (2012); and Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (2012). In addition to regular appearances at biennials and other periodic exhibitions including the Sydney Biennial (1996 and 2010), Istanbul Biennial (2003), and Documenta 13 (2012), the artist’s work has also been shown in group exhibitions internationally, at venues including the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (2001 and 2007); Fine Arts Museum, Berne, Switzerland (2006); National Art Gallery, Singapore (2010); National Museum of Art, Osaka (2011); and Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (2012). Rasdjarmrearnsook, a lecturer at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University, lives and works in Chiang Mai.
Vandy Rattana was born in 1980 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He studied law at the Pannasastra University of Cambodia and is a self-taught photographer. He cofounded the artist collective Stiev Selapak (art rebels) in 2007, and with them opened the alternative space Sa Sa Art Gallery in 2009, followed by Sa Sa Art Projects in 2010, both in Phnom Penh. The latter hosts artist residencies, workshops, and community-based collaborations. In 2011, Sa Sa Art Gallery merged with BASSAC Art Projects to become SA SA BASSAC. Inspired by photojournalism’s roots in bearing witness and its activist vein, Rattana has trained his lens on challenging conditions in his home country, documenting natural and manmade disasters. He also experiments with photographic abstraction and makes use of video. The project of recording and preserving is especially poignant in Cambodia, which lost significant historical archives during the violent cultural cleansing campaign implemented by the communist Khmer Rouge regime (1975–79). Rattana operates in a context in which the act of remembrance is a form of subversion.
Rattana’s photographs do not merely communicate a state of victimhood; rather, they acknowledge the processes of survival, resilience, and healing. They present a specific perspective on modernity, one in which advanced technology equates to destruction, the recovery of nature is a form of progress, traditional and vernacular forms sometimes trump innovation, and the everyday becomes heroic. Rattana does not appear in any of the photographs in his Self-portrait series (2005–06). Instead, the images portray family members in individual and group compositions, together with studies of domestic interiors that conjure the atmosphere of home. Thus the artist avoids stereotypical depictions of Cambodia as a land of temples and traumas. While he does address the legacy of war elsewhere, Rattana’s Fire of the year series (2008) deals with today’s problems by focusing on an ecological wasteland on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The meditative series Walking Through (2008–09), meanwhile, features images of a traditional rubber plantation in Kampong Cham province that capture the dignity of the laborers and the beauty of their surroundings.
Rattana has had solo exhibitions at Popil PhotoGallery (2006–07), Sa Sa Art Gallery (2009), and SA SA BASSAC (2011 and 2012–13) in Phnom Penh, and Hessel Museum of Art in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (2010). He has participated in notable group exhibitions including Underlying: Contemporary Art Exhibition from the Mekong Sub-Region, a traveling exhibition organized by the Mekong Art and Culture Project in Bangkok (2008); Strategies from Within: Vietnamese and Cambodian Contemporary Art at Ke Center in Shanghai (2008); the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial at Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia (2009); Forever Until Now: Contemporary Art from Cambodia at 10 Chancery Lane Gallery in Hong Kong (2009); Institution for the Future, part of the Asia Triennial Manchester at Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester (2011); Documenta 13 (2012); and Poetic Politic at Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco (2012). Rattana lives and works in Phnom Penh and Paris.
Norberto Roldan was born in 1953 in Roxas City, Philippines. He earned a BA in Philosophy from St. Pius X Seminary, Roxas City; a BFA in Visual Communications from University of Santo Tomas, Manila; and an MA in Art Studies at University of the Philippines, Diliman. In 1986, he founded Black Artists in Asia, a Philippines-based group focused on socially and politically progressive practice. In 1990, he initiated the biennial VIVA EXCON (Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference). Roldan was a finalist for the Philip Morris Philippines Art Award, Manila, in 1996, 1997, and 1999. In 1998, he was awarded Juror’s Choice for the same award as well for the Art Association of the Philippines Annual Art Competition. Roldan is the current artistic director of Green Papaya Art Projects (est. 2000), an independent, artist-run initiative and alternative art space that supports collaboration and exchange between Asia-Pacific and Filipino artists. Citing the influence of Joseph Cornell and Santiago Bose, Roldan juxtaposes objects, images, and textual fragments as a means to reject the idea of historical certainty and propose new social, political, and cultural narratives in its place.
Often employing the material embodiments of various genres and themes in a single collage, Roldan harnesses poignant aspects of shared and personal biography. His assemblage In Search For Lost Time 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 (2010) has its origins in an article on Hitler’s Berlin apartment. Based on a conviction that the interior and furnishings of the dictator’s home offer no insight into the true nature of the man, the work questions the importance of material culture in the study of anthropology. Roldan’s series of nine works titled The Beginning of History and Fatal Strategies (2011) was inspired by Jean Baudrillard’s essay “The End of History and Meaning,” which details the idea of historicity, arguing that globalization precipitated the dissolution of history and the collapse of progress. Each work is a collection of curios, old perfumes bottles, compact cases, amulets, and old photographs displayed in wood and glass cabinets, recalling a past that is fabricated by an attempt to create a sense of order from forgotten memories. Focusing on Baudrillard’s criticism of Marxist ideology as misguided fantasy, Roldan’s series itself presents no political judgment or conclusion, but seeks instead to simply pit history against reality.
Roldan has had solo exhibitions at Hiraya Gallery, Manila (1987, 1994, and 1999); Artspace, Sydney (1989); Green Papaya, Manila (2001 and 2005); Charles Darwin University Gallery, Darwin, Australia (2003); Alliance Française, Manila (2004); Magnet Gallery, Manila (2007); MO Space, Manila (2008); Pablo Fort, Manila (2009); Taksu, Kuala Lumpur (2009); Taksu, Singapore (2009, 2011, and 2012); Silverlens, Manila (2010); Now Gallery, Manila (2011 and 2012); and Vulcan Artbox, Waterford, Ireland (2012). He has participated in numerous group exhibitions including New Art from Southeast Asia, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (1992); Identities versus Globalisation, Chiang Mai University Art Museum, National Gallery, Bangkok, and Dahlem Museum, Berlin (2003–04); Flippin’ Out: Maynila to Williamsburg, Goliath Visual Space, Brooklyn (2005); No Soul for Sale, Tate Modern, London (2010); and Negotiating Home, History and Nation: Two Decades of Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia, 1991–2010, Singapore Art Museum (2011). Roldan lives and works in Manila.
Tang Da Wu
Tang Da Wu was born in 1943 in Thang Kian Hiong, Singapore. He received a BA in sculpture from the School of Fine Art, Birmingham Polytechnic (now Birmingham Institute of Art and Design) in 1974 and pursued advanced studies in sculpture at Saint Martins School of Art (now Central Saint Martins) from 1974–75. In 1985, he received an MFA from Goldsmith’s College, University of London. After returning to Singapore in 1979, Tang began to work in performance art, and in 1988, cofounded the Artists Village, a collective committed to promoting experimental art through the provision of studio and exhibition space. Working through a de facto ban on performance that began in 1994 as a response to artist Josef Ng trimming his pubic hair at a public festival, the organization supports community interaction through social relevance and the hosting of public site-specific interventions. Through performance, installation, painting, and drawing, Tang explores social and environmental themes including deforestation, animal endangerment, and urban transformation.
Tang’s seminal early work Tiger’s Whip (1991) comments on the exploitation of tigers for the supposed aphrodisiac powers of their sexual organs. For this work, in part a performance, Tang dragged behind him one of ten life-size papier-mâché tigers. In the work’s installation component, a tiger stands with front paws resting on a rocking chair that has been painted with a red phallus and draped in red cloth. This represents the tiger’s vengeful spirit returning to haunt the poacher. Other works such as They Poach the Rhino, Chop Off His Horn and Make This Drink (1989) further investigate the cultural beliefs that can lead to species extinction. Commenting on the effects of urban transformation is the series of ink paintings Bumiputra (2005–06), named for a Malay word meaning “son of the soil.” The work is a collection of portraits of residents of Hougang, a Northern suburb of Singapore that was developed from forests and pig farms into a residential town during the 1980s. Since the 1960s, the Singaporean city-state has been expanding through the dismantling of communities and the establishment of re-housing programs. By recording the original inhabitants of the area and assembling the images around an image of a well, a traditional meeting place, Tang highlights the way in which too-rapid development can erode community.
Tang was the recipient of the Visual Arts Award from the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1978, as well as the Artist Award from the Greater London Arts Council in 1983. In 1999, he was awarded the 10th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in Arts and Culture. He has had solo exhibitions at ACME Gallery, London (1978), National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore (1980), Your Mother Gallery, Singapore (2005), Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur (2006), and Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore (2011). Important performances include Five Days at NAFA and Five Days in Museum, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and National Museum, Singapore (1982), They Poach the Rhino, Chop Off His Horn and Make This Drink, National Museum Art Gallery, National University of Singapore, and Singapore Zoo (1989), and Don’t Give Money to the Arts, Singapore Art exhibition and fair (1995). He was a leading organizer of and participant in the Artists Village’s Dancing by the Ponds and Sunrise at the Vegetable Farm, The Time Show—24 Hours Continuous Performance (1989–90). The group and its activities were celebrated in the retrospective The Artists Village: 20 Years On at the Singapore Art Museum (2008). He has participated in group exhibitions including the Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan (1989), Art in Asia: Traditions/Tensions, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (1998), Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial (1999), and Singapore Biennial (2006). He was featured in the Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Tang lives and works in Singapore.
Truong Tan was born in 1963 in Hanoi, Vietnam. He graduated from the Fine Art School Hanoi in 1982, and the University of Fine Art Hanoi in 1989. He served as a lecturer at the latter from 1989 to 1997 before becoming a full-time artist. Following the advent of the Doi Moi (renovation) policy in 1986, which liberalized Vietnam’s market policies, there was a resurgent artistic romanticization of Vietnam’s past. Truong, for his part, abandoned the country’s then-current academicism in favor of a practice focused on the complexities of human psychology and social circumstance. Through painting, drawing, performance, installation, sculpture, and ceramics, Truong challenges social convention and investigates themes of identity and freedom of expression.
Truong addresses the long-established prejudices that influence Vietnam’s highly traditional society, examining national identity and its intersection with gender stereotypes. Centered on his own identity, the artist’s work explores perceptions of homosexuality in a conservative milieu. This autobiographical emphasis is clear in Being Human (1996), a series of erotic ink drawings of the male figure. The series’ visually reductive interpretation of the male form accentuates the phallus and presents relationships considered unconventional in Vietnam’s contradictory environment of economic liberalization and social rigidity. Furthering this exploration are works such as Red Dreaming (2008) and How to be an Angel (2008). Painted in the traditional Vietnamese medium of lacquer, these works consider an individual’s understanding of his or her own social status. The latter example in particular acts as a reminder of humanity’s aspiration to an ideal of beauty and virtue, represented through the actions of figures rendered in Truong’s signature style of flattened form and simple contour. The Wedding Dress (2001) turns away from themes of masculinity toward the image of Vietnamese women. In this sculpture, a skirt made from iron chains is combined with a bodice made of feathers. The heft of the chains represents societal oppression of women, while the fragile feathers symbolize the vulnerability and purity of the soul. Through the modification of domestic objects and social symbols, Truong creates new metaphors for the politics of contemporary Vietnam and the struggle between private and public identities.
Truong has had solo exhibitions at Gallery Ecole, Hanoi (1994), Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany (1996), Gallery Les Singuliers, Paris (1997, 1999, and 2000), Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (1998 and 1999), Gallery 4A, Sydney (1998), Asian Fine Art Gallery, Berlin (1999), Nhasan Studio, Hanoi (2002), Ryllega Gallery, Hanoi (2004 and 2005), and Thavibu Gallery, Bangkok (2010). Notable group exhibitions include Singapore Biennial (2008); Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial, Japan (2009); Connect: Kunstszene Vietnam, ifa Gallery Berlin (2010) and ifa Gallery Stuttgart (2011); Negotiating Home, History and Nation: Two Decades of Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia, 1991–2010, Singapore Art Museum (2011); and 8 Vietnamese Contemporary Artists, Bui Gallery, Hanoi (2012). Truong lives and works in Paris and Hanoi.
Artist biographies originally published on guggenheim.org © 2013 Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (SRGF). All rights reserved.
The Ghost of Mohammed Bin Qasim, 2006. Nine inkjet prints, edition 5/5, six prints: 14 1/2 × 18 1/4 inches (36.8 × 46.4 cm) each, and three prints: 18 1/4 × 14 1/2 inches (46.4 × 36.8 cm) each. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.139.1. © Bani Abidi
The visual narrative that characterizes Bani Abidi’s practice takes a historical turn in the series The Boy Who Got Tired of Posing (2006), which is made up of two photographic sequences and a video. Through these related elements, the figure of Mohammad bin Qasim, considered Pakistan’s early colonial founder in state history, is brought to life in a lighthearted and candid portrayal that provides an opportunity to reflect on the history of the South Asian nation. A young general from Umayyad (an early Islamic caliphate), bin Qasim rose to prominence as leader of the successful capture of Sindh in 711 CE. Attributed to this conquest is the introduction of early Islamic practice and philosophy to the region, which in Pakistan’s history is credited as predicating the destiny of the nation. The significance of this narrative resides, firstly, in its status as an alternative to Western-centric postcolonial narratives of independence that privilege European expansionist forays in South Asia since the 17th century and, secondly, in its circumvention of the complex conditions under which Pakistan’s independence as a modern nation-state was achieved—via a separation of the Muslim League from the Indian National Congress in 1943 through to the triumphant and traumatic aftermath of the partition of South Asia on August 14, 1947, which established East and West Pakistan. Beyond its geographical specificity, the work suggests the challenges of such singular narratives, and the inevitability of the contestation of multiple historical narratives.
This Video Is a Reenactment, 2006. Color video, silent, 58 sec. loop, and inkjet print, edition 3/5, 18 1/4 × 14 1/2 inches (46.4 × 36.8 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.139.2. © Bani Abidi
Abidi explores historical and contemporary representations of the figure of bin Qasim, and the proliferation of this narrative in state history and shared culture, through her fictional depictions of the hero in his emblematic form—wearing the Arabic keffiyeh, brandishing a sword, and riding a charging horse. In The Boy Who Got Tired of Posing, the artist plays on the trend of popular studio photography in 1980s Pakistan, which saw parents encourage their sons to dress up as bin Qasim for portrait shots. In the work’s final image, the subject, tired of performing, mischievously elects to exit the frame. In This Video is a Reenactment, the artist recalls Labbaik, a televisual dramatization of the colonial founder’s conquest, by excerpting a sequence showing the hero’s momentous horseback ride. In Abidi’s video, however, the act is slowed down, accentuating its histrionic impact on the nation. Finally, in a suite of eight monochrome photographs, The Ghost of Mohammed Bin Qasim, the artist monumentalizes the figure, who appears to haunt various sites of national significance around Karachi including the Lahore Fort, the tomb of Emperor Jahangir, and the National Mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, or Mazar-e-Quaid. Yet on closer examination, these glimpses of the return of the historical figure contain various incongruities and awkwardnesses. A short fictional text reveals the story of how the haunting began with the conversion of a young man, Yusof Masih, to Islam, and his imagining himself as bin Qasim. The figure, juxtaposed with iconic contexts, raises questions of the roles of nationhood, nationalism, and narratives of origin in the trajectory of history.
The Boy Who Got Tired of Posing, 2006. Three chromogenic prints and one inkjet print, edition 3/5, three prints: 40 3/4 × 30 3/4 inches (103.5 × 78.1 cm) each and one print: 18 1/2 × 14 1/2 inches (47 × 36.8 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.139.3. © Bani Abidi
What..., 2001. Color video, with sound, 11 min., edition 3/3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.142. © Reza Afisina
Reza Afisina is Artistic Director of the Arts Laboratory of Jakarta-based artist collective ruangrupa, founded in 2000 with a focus on video, photography, and installation. Afisina’s early experimental work What . . . (2001) marks a significant moment of convergence between Indonesian performance art and video, and a turning point in the practice of the artist, whose background is in cinematography. The video, which was shot during the Islamic holiday Eid, held in in the fasting months of Ramadhan, records a performance by the artist carried out while alone in ruangrupa’s space. Contemplating the occasion’s purpose as a time for spiritual reflection, he turned to certain biblical verses, specifically Luke 12:3–11. In this passage, Luke relates Jesus’s warnings against hypocrisy and stresses the importance of truth and confession; “whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light,” he declares, “and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”
What . . . stages a reflexive moment—the artist watching himself being “watched” by the camera—and underscores the religious text’s edict of the necessity for mindfulness and faith, a lesson also conveyed by the Koran. While Indonesia’s administration is secular, it is a predominantly Muslim country; Afisina’s work presents a moderate and inclusive view of its context, one in which the values of different religions converge. As a source of religious guidance, this biblical text shares with the Koran the aim of teaching readers how to comport themselves, understand, and believe. Emphasizing the verses’ counsel and admonishment, the artist slaps himself repeatedly, an act of violence that becomes increasingly uncomfortable for the viewer. In so doing, he raises the subjects of justice, retribution, suffering, empathy, and compassion.
The physical severity of the performance in Afisina’s film questions the rationalization of other forms of violence, and violence as a choice. Through its forceful portrayal of the relationship of violence—even when well-intentioned—to pain, the work suggests that its immediacy and familiarity may also be fundamental to producing a shared sense of compassion for one’s fellow man, regardless of religion.
Untitled 1, Rustam Series, 2011–12. Watercolor, gouache, and ink on paper, 27 1/2 × 19 5/8 inches (69.9 × 49.8 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.143. © Khadim Ali
The title of Khadim Ali’s Rustam Series (2011–12) references the hero of the Persian Shahnameh (Book of kings). The protagonist of Ferdowsi’s 11th-century epic poem is recognized for his valor and strength, but Ali’s work recalls only his name; the paintings allude to the persecution of the Hazara minority in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a community that finds itself displaced on both sides of the border. The work depicts demons, and suggests that the legendary character of the Rustam has been usurped in contemporary times as justification for hostility and bloodshed, his heroism now ascribed to those who perpetrate violence and domination. In a broader sense, the work reflects on the upheavals and crises that emerge from lingering difference.
Untitled 2, Rustam Series, 2010. Watercolor, gouache, and ink on paper, 19 5/8 × 16 3/4 inches (49.8 × 42.5 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.144. © Khadim Ali
Successive cycles of violence and aggression are not limited to this particular minority community, but recur in oppressive circumstances elsewhere. In its reference to the narrative and lyrical traditions of the Persian people and the region, Ali’s work recollects both the triumph of civilizations past and the turmoil and aftermath of conquest. Yet in spite of loss, there linger traces of individual and cultural memory, of which the return of the Rustam is one. Layered in these works are excerpts from epic poems and literary references to Persian and Afghan history and culture, keys to meaning that the violence of contemporary conflict cannot efface. Also depicted in the series of paintings are the silent and empty alcoves in cliffs that were once occupied by the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan. Though these 6th-century statues were destroyed in 2001, their physical absence, like that of the Rustam, has a haunting aura of its own.
Untitled 3, Rustam Series, 2011–12. Watercolor, gouache, and ink on paper, 19 7/8 × 16 15/16 inches (50.5 × 43 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.145. © Khadim Ali
Following the style of miniature painting, and in particular the technique of neem rang (half-color), the artist uses traditional methods of production including pigmentation with gold and silver leaf. This traditional South Asian aesthetic, now also marked by Persian influences, is a form of Mughal painting that was once used in illustrated texts, primarily to represent royalty, battles, and legends. The rich and sensitive detailing of these historical portraits is, like the literary epic, revived in Ali’s work, which accords the traditional practice a contemporary relevance by aligning its cultural significance with the circumstances of today.
White Stupa Doesn't Need Gold, 2010. Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 59 1/4 × 39 3/4 inches (150.5 × 101 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.155. © Aung Myint
Multidisciplinary artist Aung Myint is one of the pioneers of modern art in Myanmar (previously known as Burma). The self-taught artist has embraced diverse aesthetic practices, from both nonrepresentational and figurative painting to performance art and installation. In his series Mother and Child (2002– ), Aung Myint images the concepts of nature and nurture in a few simple but effective brushstrokes. However, it is the works’ distinct conceptual underpinning that distinguishes the artist’s practice from more romanticized visions of Burmese culture and history. From these multiple images of the maternal figure clasping a child—rendered in an unmistakable yet still ambiguous line—a variety of meanings emerge. The series may be read as combining the positive and negative attributes of patriotism, for example, reflecting on the protection it can offer while criticizing its tendency to constrain and limit. Marking a lively trail that twists and turns across the artist’s preferred shan (mulberry) paper, these shapes resemble the traditional Burmese alphabet but are not quite the language itself, thus suggesting both articulation and reticence.
Aung Myint’s painting White Stupa Doesn’t Need Gold (2010) is similarly agile. In much of Southeast Asia, few traces of the region’s ancient kingdoms remain. But in Myanmar, pagodas built by the early civilizations of the kingdom of Pagan (849–1297), and in periods of prosperity that came after it, stand as prominent and powerful monuments to a cultural and aesthetic history that continues to shape national identity. In the painting, the artist begins with the form of a typical Buddhist pagoda (easily recognized by its gilded bell-shaped dome, examples of which dot the Myanmarian landscape). But the artist disrupts the expected representation by depicting the structure unembellished against an enigmatic inky-black background. Scattered casually across the dark expanse are squares of gold leaf that recall the opulence of the historic parabeik, concertina-style books illustrated with royal or religious scenes. Unlike the gilded pagodas—tourist attractions and objects of cultural pride—the gold in Aung Myint’s painting seems to have become detached and inessential, leaving the dome to radiate even while unadorned. Seeming to critique the privileging of appearance over substance, and acting as a prompt to introspection, the artist’s measured observation—rooted as it is in the cultures and histories of a country undergoing political and social reform—also speaks to the inevitability of change, as evidenced in the passage of empires.
1:14.9, 2011–12. Polyester thread, wood, glass, and brass, A.P. 1/2, edition of 3, 64 3/16 × 22 × 20 inches (163 × 55.9 × 50.8 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.148. © Shilpa Gupta. Installation view: No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, February 22–May 22, 2013. Photo: Kristopher McKay
Mumbai-based artist Shilpa Gupta addresses the weighty issues of religion, nationality, and history with wry humor. Using video, sculpture, photography, and sound, she distills critical observations into pithy reflections on conditions in South Asia. In 1:14.9 (2011–12), a hand-wound ball of thread is accompanied by a small plaque reading “1188.5 MILES OF FENCED BORDER – WEST, NORTH-WEST / DATA UPDATE: DEC 31, 2007.” Using sterile data about the fencing of the border between India and Pakistan extracted from a publicly available report by the Ministry of Home Affairs in India, she poetically represents the geopolitical division as a gleaming orb—a form that seems, at first, as abstract as the raw statistics from which it is derived. Yet the thread’s fragility reflects the tenuous nature of national boundaries, which demand constant restatement and surveillance. The object’s ovoid shape also suggests origins or genesis, and calls to mind the South Asian partition, which occurred either side of midnight on August 14, 1947, birthing two distinct nations in immediate succession.
This fraught moment in history, which has repercussions to this day, is referenced more obliquely in Gupta’s Threat (2008–09), a wall of bricks, each one stamped with the single word of the title. The tension of this division is, however, illusory, as the bricks are made from water-soluble soap. This testing of the border’s instability recurs in 100 Hand Drawn Maps of India (2007–08) and 100 Hand Drawn Maps (2010), components of a larger ongoing project. For these works, the artist travelled from India to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, inviting participants to draw maps from memory. Layering these drawings atop one another, she illustrates the mercurial nature of nation as idea and, as the work’s lines intersect and diverge, its ambivalent and logocentric status (a characteristic previously remarked on by theorist Homi K. Bhabha). By using commonplace objects and materials to navigate the ideological and the physical, 1:14.9 reflects an interesting aspect of Indian aesthetics. The familiar textile material is used with measured allegorical purpose, drawing attention to ordinary realities distinct from the triumphalism found in the art championed by independent India, epitomized in Abanindranath Tagore’s famous painting Bharat Mata (Mother India) (1904–05).
Keeping Up with the Abdullahs 1, 2012. Chromogenic print and plaque in artist's frame, edition 2/8, 32 3/4 × 47 1/4 inches (83.2 × 120 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.151. © Vincent Leong
Vincent Leong’s pair of portrait photographs Keeping Up with the Abdullahs (2012) assembles family members from two minority ethnicities in Malaysia, Chinese and Indian. Featuring men dressed in baju melayu and songkok brimless caps, and women in baju kurong and tudung head scarves, garments that commonly signal Islamic adherence in Malaysia, the images address the subject of assimilation in a multiethnic country. British colonial developments in peninsular Malaysia (then known as Malaya) from the 18th to the 20th centuries accelerated emigration from South and East Asia into the region. Yet immigrant communities were treated differently by the colonial administration, a distinction maintained even after Malaysian independence in 1957. This preservation of difference has resulted in both cultural diversity and intercultural conflict. On May 13, 1969, after the Chinese-led opposition won additional seats in the previously Malay-dominated parliament, Malaysia erupted in a race riot that claimed hundreds of lives. The soul-searching that followed culminated in the watershed 1971 National Cultural Congress, which stated that national cultural policy must henceforth be oriented toward indigenous Malay culture.
Keeping Up with the Abdullahs 2, 2012. Chromogenic print and plaque in artist's frame, edition 2/8, 32 3/4 × 42 5/8 inches (83.2 × 108.3 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.152. © Vincent Leong
Since the 1930s, both identifiably Malayan elements and the fusion of Western forms with Southeast Asian themes have been increasingly prevalent in local art. Leong’s practice recalls that of renowned Malaysian artist Redza Piyadasa, playfully underscoring the continuing question of what Malaysian identity constitutes today. Parodying early 19th-century photographs of the Malay sultanate that depicted their subjects in formal ensemble, Leong’s tongue-in-cheek work replaces the typical regalia of the earlier royal depictions with mops, rakes, and kitchen utensils, objects referencing domestic experience and politics. Despite its humorous approach, Keeping Up with the Abdullahs nevertheless contains political and cultural critique, as small plaques on the photographs’ frames announce, in Chinese and Tamil rendered in the phonetic Arabic Jawi script, the figures of the otherwise separate ethnic groups shown as conclusively Malaysian. Leong’s practice often concentrates on the production of nation and culture; his contemporary voice is rooted in local historical and material conditions.
Tayeba Begum Lipi
Love Bed, 2012. Stainless steel, 31 1/4 × 72 3/4 × 87 inches (79.4 × 184.8 × 221 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.153. © Tayeba Begum Lipi. Installation view: No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, February 22–May 22, 2013. Photo: Kristopher McKay
Bangladesh was partitioned in 1947 from India and again in 1971 from Pakistan, making it one of the youngest nations in South and Southeast Asia. The wars that resulted in its independence, and the unsettled aftermath thereof, ruptured not only the land and the lives of its people, but also the history and representation of the nation. In a context of conflicting and contested historical accounts, and in the face of ongoing scarcity of resources and development, artists including Tayeba Begum Lipi attempt to formulate aesthetic responses. In 2002, having studied drawing and painting at the University of Dhaka, the artist cofounded the Britto International Artists’ Workshop with her partner, artist Mahbubur Rahman. Later established as Britto Arts Trust, and augmented by the communal Britto Space in Dhaka, the organization extended its reach beyond Bangladesh through exhibitions, residencies, talks, collaborations, and exchanges.
For the artist, the nation’s political state forms the backdrop to another critical political concern: the gendered violence that was rife during both partitions. Her works reflect on both the double bind of the personal and the political, expressing and accentuating a sense of unease through a public form of gendered expression that also speaks to challenges faced by the artist and her contemporaries. In Bizarre and Beautiful (2011), exhibited at the inaugural Bangladesh Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, she transformed mock stainless-steel razor blades into the fabric of a feminine undergarment. Attractive yet threatening, the article is converted into a hard, gritty form, possessing the qualities of armor or a shield.
Razor blades return in Love Bed (2012), in which the shared space of domesticity, affection, and bliss glints with both threat and invitation. The blade here represents not merely the violence implied by its sharp edge, but also the object’s function as a basic tool to aid in childbirth in the absence of other medical support, a circumstance that the artist recalls from childhood. Printed on the blades is the Bengali name Balaka, a well-known Bangladeshi brand. Coming from a large family, the artist associates the strength of steel with the tenacity of the women who surrounded her as she grew up, individuals who defied the odds to keep their families and communities together. Yet these works resist interpretation according to simple binary opposition along historical, religious, social, or gendered lines. As much as the skeins of razors draped across the bed frame warn against our approach, they also, paradoxically, join together into a productive space for connection and dialogue.
Tuan Andrew Nguyen
Enemy's Enemy: Monument to a Monument, 2012. Wood, prototype 3/3, edition of 5, 33 3/4 × 2 1/2 × 2 1/2 inches (85.7 × 6.4 × 6.4 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.156. © Tuan Andrew Nguyen
In Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s Enemy’s Enemy: Monument to a Monument (2012), a classic American Louisville Slugger baseball bat is transformed into a meditation on the unifying and divisive powers of religion and sport. The figure carved into the bat is a memorial to Thích Quảng Đức, a highly venerated Buddhist monk who in 1963 performed self-immolation in protest against the repression of the Buddhist community by Ngô Đình Diệm’s South Vietnamese government. An official bias toward Roman Catholicism, a remnant of the region’s French colonization, led, in the post-Cochinchina period after 1954, to religious inequality, prompting Thích Quảng Đức’s demonstration. The selfless act was widely televised, and formed part of the mounting pressure on the Diệm government that led to its deposition later in the year. Popular sports such as baseball can also stir community loyalties, uniting and dividing groups as do organized religions. Enemy’s Enemy illustrates the contradiction embodied by the two phenomena, their shared power to both engender solidarity and instigate conflict. In addition, the commemorative monument, installed in a reunited Vietnam, appears highly incongruous given the communist state ideology’s antipathy toward religion.
Layered over the work’s reference to a specific moment in Vietnamese history is an allusion to the Vietnam War as a whole, and to the U.S. support that the South Vietnamese received during that conflict. The patented bat is manufactured by Hillerich & Bradsby, a company that in the 1940s produced rifle stocks for the U.S. army as part of the war effort. Given this history, and through the image of the flames eating through the bat’s critical section, a sense of violence pervades the work. Yet the figure of the bodhisattva—a name bestowed in acknowledgement of Thích Quảng Đức’s enlightened status—emanates serenity and acquiescence (the monk’s self-sacrifice was performed in silence). In a similar fashion, Nguyen’s earlier work Take Cover Take Care (2008) juxtaposes lyrics by American rapper Tupac Shakur and Vietnamese rapper Wowy carved into the undersides of two manhole covers. In spite of their common genre and subcultural contexts, the two sets of lyrics express markedly contrasting sentiments, the former responding to cultural and social control with the threat of violence, and the latter with a patient acceptance of difference.
In Enemy’s Enemy, the historical Vietnamese craft of woodcarving is brought to contemporary life. This skill, used in architectural detailing and figurative representation, was promoted by the last Vietnamese dynasty, the lineage of Nguyễn (1802–1945). In Enemy’s Enemy the cultural exchange is reciprocated in a commemorative transformation of the American Northern White Ash baseball bat. Thus the work demonstrates the artist’s aptitude for marrying seemingly disparate subjects and materials, reflecting diverse cultural influences from East and West, and incorporating popular-cultural elements.
The Treachery of the Moon, 2012. Color video, with sound, 12 min., 37 sec., edition 1/7. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.158. © Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook
raya Rasdjarmrearnsook achieved international prominence with an earlier project, Conversations with Death on Life’s First Street (2005), a series of videos in which the artist addresses rooms filled with corpses on the experience and meaning of death. The existential paradox of death in life is represented seamlessly in these stark encounters, which for the artist are not simply about the end of life but explore the state of being between the beginning (birth) and the end (death). In The Treachery of the Moon (2012), this twinning of opposite but related moments is emblematized as the visual intersection of two different worlds, the fictional realm of television drama and the reality of political clashes in 21st-century Thailand. The process of comparing excerpts from popular programs to scenes from the politically motivated violence that has split the nation into factions reveals similar desires and conflicts, and a blurring of the imaginary into the real.
Accompanying the swirl of images that overwhelm the central figures of the artist and her dogs are songs from a more tranquil past, which evoke a nostalgia for simpler and more ethical times. With its evocative title, The Treachery of the Moon articulates Rasdjarmrearnsook’s interest in the possibility of exposing consciousness and memory as dreamlike illusions. The introduction of the figure of the common dog into the artist’s works begins with Afterwards, regret rises in our memory even for bygone hardships (2009), and In reinterpreting old landscape we may have to endure repetitions of the same old karma (2009). In an empathetic commentary on karma, both works feature a domesticated creature whose well-being depends on human kindness.
F-16, 2012. Oil and acrylic on canvas, diptych, 6 feet × 12 feet (182.9 × 365.8 cm) overall. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.160. © Norberto Roldan
Norberto Roldan’s work offers a commentary on the social, political, and cultural conditions of the Philippines via simple but apposite assemblages of object, text, and image. In F-16 (2012), Roldan explores the subject of power negotiation in geopolitical encounters by drawing a relationship between the colonization of the Philippines and events on today’s global stage. Excerpting from an interview published in the early 20th century with William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, who victoriously led the “benevolent assimilation” of the Philippines in the Spanish-American War of 1898, the textual half of the diptych quotes the then-President on the reasons for occupation. According to McKinley, the Filipino people “are unfit for self-government and they will soon have anarchy and misrule there worse than Spain’s wars; […] there was nothing left for us to do but take them all; and to educate them and uplift and civilize and Christianize them.”
Subsequent tensions between the Filipino people and American forces would lead to their ouster of U.S. military presence, and to the independence of the Philippines in 1898. Juxtaposed with McKinley’s utterance is an image of an American fighter jet cruising over Afghanistan post-9/11, a reference to Operation Enduring Freedom. In this diptych, the artist presents an open-ended dilemma that reflects not only the two historical events, but also, in relating them, points to the effects of domination and force, specifically their tendency to beget other such interventions and conflicts and thereby perpetuate a cycle of retaliation and vengeance. The juxtaposition of the two events, separated by a century, reveals a critique of human folly as destined to repeat its mistakes.
Cofounder, in 1986, of Black Artists in Asia, a group formed to observe political, social, economic, and cultural issues through aesthetic practice, Roldan is also one of the founders of Manila gallery Green Papaya Art Projects. While the artist’s painterly approach in F-16 appears to diverge from his earlier assemblages, it entails a similarly intimate transformation of historical reference in its reproduction of found elements. The earlier works bind contrary elements together—one series juxtaposes the sacred and profane by pairing found objects with Roman liturgical vestments—while the monochromatic palette of F-16 renders image and text parallel in a way that questions the status of both. Yet Roldan’s introspective works, which display the formal influence of Joseph Cornell and Filipino artist Santiago Bose, transcend the specificities of Filipino history and politics to suggest an intimate connection with the wider world.
Tang Da Wu
Our Children, 2012. Galvanized steel, glass, and milk, three parts: 62 × 89 1/2 × 23 1/2, 26 1/4 × 44 1/2 × 12, and 8 1/2 × 3 1/8 inches (157.5 × 227.3 × 59.7 cm, 66.7 × 113 × 30.5 cm, and 21.6 × 7.9 × 7.9 cm), overall dimensions vary with installation. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.147. © Tang Da Wu. Installation view: No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, February 22–May 22, 2013. Photo: Kristopher McKay
Tang Da Wu is credited as the founder of the Artists Village, a collective that has since its inception in 1988 become synonymous with experimental art in Singapore. Tang’s practice, which spans painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, and performance art, is notable for its subtly poetic deconstruction of historical and cultural conditions. His three-part sculpture Our Children (2012) references a story from Teochew opera (a variant of the form distinct to the southern Chinese region from which the artist’s family hails), in which a young boy experiences illumination at the humbling sight of a baby goat genuflecting while suckling at its mother. This image is intended as a parable of the timeless virtues of respect and filial piety, and of the importance of cultural values.
In Tang’s stylized tableau, the goats are wrought in galvanized steel and glass, the act of receiving nourishment represented by a bottle of milk that sits atop the structure. The ensemble calls to mind the Chinese domestic ancestral altar, at which offerings, prayers, and entreaties to one’s forebears are performed in recognition of history, ancestry, and veneration of age-old wisdom. Inscribed on the bottle, which also represents the necessity of nourishment to future generations, are the characters 林道. This refers to a forest pathway or trail, and in the sculpture is a metaphoric allusion to the theme of insight.
Our Children also demonstrates Tang’s skillful distillation of concept and commentary into a visual message and a prompt to reflection. In this work, the two figures appear in dynamic tension and resemble Chinese characters, bringing to life the narrative theme in spare lines and forms. (The parable itself is less smoothly concluded, the boy tragically failing to reconcile with his mother after his revelation.) Recalling Tang’s seminal early work Tiger’s Whip (1991), a commentary on the exploitation of tigers for their organs’ supposed aphrodisiac powers, the work sees Tang explore the interaction of nature and culture. Investigative, rather than simply didactic, his works are intended to inspire rather than merely instruct.
What Do We Want, 1993–94. Oil on canvas with rope, 37 1/4 × 78 3/4 × 10 inches (94.6 × 200 × 25.4 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012, 2012.162. © Truong Tan
It is necessary to understand Truong Tan’s reputation for avant-gardism in relation to a development of mainstream social and aesthetic practices in Vietnam that was influenced by 19th-century French colonization, the early 20th-century establishment of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de L’Indochine, and the negotiations that the Vietnamese people undertook in order to regain their independence. Modern Vietnamese painting, influenced by French aesthetics, favored the portrayal of lush local landscapes, and a lyrical idyll represented in the form of the feminine figure, in a visual style termed réalité poétique (poetic reality). Post-independence aesthetics would increasingly challenge these passive and idealized visions, and intensify as the country underwent the Đổi Mới economic reforms of the mid-1980s. A 1989 graduate of Hanoi Fine Arts University, Truong Tan became part of a wave of aesthetic exploration that challenged assumptions about art’s form and meaning, his practice causing controversy with its confrontation of taboo sexual themes.
An openly homosexual artist living in an increasingly liberalized but still conservative environment, Truong Tan developed a practice that was designated as unorthodox, a framing that served to both publicize and censure his work. The categorization has also tended to obscure his work’s idealistic and poetic nuances. In What Do We Want (1993–94), a male figure, his face shown in the profile view that recurs throughout the artist’s oeuvre, lies vulnerable and naked across the canvas, apparently crucified. The male figure’s idealization may be seen in relation to the idealized feminine figure celebrated in the earlier French-influenced Vietnamese aesthetic. Truong Tan’s idealization however is double-edged, as the figure, his face averted in a seemingly nonconfrontational stance, calls attention to a hidden side. This ironic pairing of diplomatic concession with a critique of rigid conservatism was apparent in “Cultural Collision,” an exhibition that Truong Tan participated in along with American artist Bradford Edwards at Red River Gallery in Hanoi in 1995. On this occasion, twelve of Truong Tan’s paintings were censored. In response the artist replaced these censured works with rice-paper paintings inscribed with the deferential response “Excuse Me” in Vietnamese, English, and French.
Characterized by simplicity of material, line, and color, and by a synthetic composition in which form is flattened and contour simplified, Truong Tan’s work has a powerful rawness that underscores his struggle to uncover the basic truths of power, society, and life. A rope, symbolizing social and aesthetic stricture, is wrapped around the middle of What Do We Want. It acts as a constraining device, but also is a nod to modesty. As in his 1994 performance in which the artist, his body wrapped in a sheet and bound by rope, signals a refusal of social, cultural, and sexual limits by stepping out of physical ones, the bound painting is poised between restraint and liberation. What Do We Want is thus less a confrontation than it is an appeal for a more measured reflection on the imposition of constraints. In another performance, Buffalo, staged in the village of Mộc Châu in 1996, the artist shoulders a 40-kilogram plough and attempts to plough a field. The weight of the plough finally defeats him and he collapses, yet the artist’s courageous effort and unrelenting desire to transform an indifferent cultural landscape has not gone unnoticed, its simple yet effective gesture leaving an indelible mark.
Bomb Ponds, 2009. Nine digital chromogenic prints and color video, with sound, 23 min., edition 4/5, approximately 35 7/16 × 41 5/16 inches (90 × 105 cm) each. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2013.4. © Vandy Rattana. Pictured: detail.
The history of American presence in Cambodia is the subject of Vandy Rattana’s Bomb Ponds (2009), a video and series of photographs that looks at the lasting effects of U.S. bombing operations on the nation’s landscape, its people, and their collective memory. Bomb Ponds has its origins in the production of another series of photographs by the artist, Walking Through (2009), which pictures Cambodian rubber plantations introduced during French colonization. While developing this sequence, the artist chanced upon what locals called a “bomb pond,” a body of water within a man-made crater. Curious, he searched for and photographed similarly ravaged sites, drawn to their paradoxically idyllic, overgrown settings.
The craters in Bomb Ponds are the results of 2,756,941 tons of bombs dropped by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War between 1964 and 1973, a figure that was publicly acknowledged only in 2000. It is debatable whether the military operation in Cambodia contributed to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, its aggression fueling the resistance or, despite the loss of life and livelihood, aided the Cambodian people. Either way, the assault also points to the various interventions that Cambodians have faced throughout history, of Thai (Siam), French, Japanese, Vietnamese, and American origin. These interventions were variously administrative, ideological, and territorial, and were, as the artist emphasizes, often more complex than official histories suggest.
Vandy’s practice recalls that of Cambodian artists such as Svay Ken, whose paintings note both the ordinary and the unexpected. In a country where photography plays a critical documentary role—in images of the Khmer Rouge’s S-21 interrogation center Tuol Sleng, for example, or the memorialization of Khmer Rouge violence housed in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Bomb Ponds stands as witness to a continuing struggle against Cambodian historical revisionism. In the work’s video component, one villager relates the experience of hiding her family underground at the sound of incoming planes, while another is too aggrieved to discuss the memories that the sight of the ponds evokes. By thus underscoring the enduring damage wrought by military operations, Bomb Ponds suggests that this history deserves as much acknowledgement as the effects of the Khmer Rouge or the celebration of the Hindu-then-Buddhist temple complex of Angkor Wat. The ponds’ tragic aspect contrasts with national rebuilding projects such as the filling of Beoung Kok Lake for urban redevelopment featured in another work by the artist, an undertaking that poses a different kind of threat to the local community.
Originally published on guggenheim.org © 2013 Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (SRGF). All rights reserved
Gallery Docent Tour Schedule
Exhibition Tour at Asia Society Gallery (Former Magazine A)
No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, the first traveling exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, features recent work by 13 artists representing some of the most compelling voices in South and Southeast Asia today. Through contemporary paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, works on paper, and installations, join us to investigate the variety of contemporary artistic practice in the region and the impact of South and Southeast Asian spiritual and moral teachings on the shaping of its communities. Docent-led exhibition tours will be available at the following times and days during the week and tours start at the Gallery Reception.
|English Tour||Cantonese Tour|
|Fridays||2:30 pm||3:30 pm|
|Saturdays||2:30 pm||3:30 pm|
|Sundays||2:30 pm||3:30 pm|
*Last Thursday of each month
The Guggenheim UBS Map Global Art Initiative is supported by a variety of far-reaching educational and contextual programs. From school tours to family workshops, artist residencies to public symposium to name just a few, our dynamic range of programs are designed to inform, inspire, and edutain our diverse communities and provide a meaningful encounter with the exhibition. Check out what we have on offer and mark your calendars now!
Please click the programs below for details.
Saturdays, November 9 & 23, 2013
December 7 & 21, 2013
January 4 & 18, 2014 [OPEN FOR REGISTRATION]
February 8 & 15, 2014
Themed Family Workshops
Sundays, November 3, 17, 24, 2013
December 1, 8, 15, 2013
January 5, 12, 19, 2014 [OPEN FOR REGISTRATION]
February, 9 & 16, 2014
Schools Visits Program
Throughout the exhibition period, available upon request.
Tours for the Visually Impaired
Other dates available upon request throughout the exhibition period.
Continuous Horizons: Contemporary Art for Asia [OPEN FOR REGISTRATION]
January 11, 2014
In a Grain of Rice: Food & Culture for South & Southeast Asia [OPEN FOR REGISTRATION]
January 12, 2014
More programs are on the way! Stay tuned!
Artist Residencies & Workshops
Educator's Open House: A Preview & Workshop
Saturday, October 26, 2013
10:00 - 12:00
Art Educator's Conference: Making Art a Part of Daily Life for Young People
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Khadim Ali Residency programs
Storytelling and Art: Family Tour and Workshop
Khadim Ali: An Artist’s Experience public lecture
Monday, November 25th
Tayeba Begum Lipi Residency programs
Meet the Artist – Tayeba Begum Lipi
Wednesday, November 4, 2013
6:30 pm - 8:00
President’s Circle Private Reception with Tayeba Begum Lipi
Thursday, November 5, 2013
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
In the News:
No Country: The Global Voice of Non-Western Art - The Culture Trip, October, 2013
Southeast Asian Art Exhibit in HK - Destin Asia Magazine online, September 25, 2013
Norberto Roldan’s painting in Guggenheim touring exhibit - Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 16, 2013
Conversation with June Yap, Curator, Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Initiative - OCULA
Beyond Nation States - The Indian Express, September 5, 2013
Guggenheim Asian artists surveys travels to Hong Kong - The Art Newspaper, August 14, 2013