Remembering the Future: Reflecting on the Legacy of Asia Society Museum's Contemporary Art Exhibitions


Discussion with Artists and Curators

NEW YORK, November 16, 2016 — Vishakha N. Desai, former president and CEO of Asia Society, who inaugurated the contemporary Asian art program during her tenure as museum director, discusses the legacy of Asia Society's longstanding commitment to contemporary Asian art with artists Xu Bing and Arahmaiani. The coversation is moderated by Michelle Yun, Asia Society's senior curator of modern and contemporary art. (1 hr., 13 min.)

This panel celebrates Asia Society's longstanding commitment to contemporary Asian art by bringing together participants from "Contemporary Art in Asia: Traditions/Tensions" (1997) and "Inside Out: New Chinese Art" (1998) to discuss the legacy of these landmark exhibitions. Participants include Vishakha N. Desai, former President and CEO of Asia Society, who inaugurated the contemporary Asian art program during her tenure as Museum Director, artists Xu Bing and Arahmaiani, and moderator Michelle Yun, Asia Society's Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Followed by a reception.

Galleries are open until 6:30 pm

Part of Asia Society Celebrates 60 Years.

Coincides with Asia Contemporary Art Week.

Arahmaiani is one of Indonesia’s most respected and iconic contemporary artists, and her work is internationally recognized for its powerful and provocative commentaries on social and cultural issues. In the 1980s and ’90s, she established herself as a pioneer in the field of performance art in Southeast Asia, although her practice also incorporates a wide variety of media, including video, installation, painting, drawing, and sculpture. In September 2014, she participated in “Chain of Fire,” the prologue exhibition for the 2016 Honolulu Biennial. Since the 1980s, Arahmaiani’s work has been exhibited widely in museums and biennials throughout the world, from Asia to the Americas, Australia, and Europe, including the Venice Biennale (2003); Biennale of the Moving Image, Geneva (2003); Gwangju Biennale (2002); Bienal de São Paulo (2002); Performance Biennale, Israel (2001); Biennale de Lyon (2000); Werkleitz Biennale (2000); Bienal de la Habana (1997); Asia Pacific Triennial (1996); Yogya Biennial, (1994).

Arahmaiani was included in the landmark 1996 exhibition, “Traditions/Tensions,” at Asia Society in New York City, with multimedia work that explored themes of sexuality and spirituality in contemporary culture. Arahmaiani’s work is currently featured in the group exhibition: “In & Out of Context,” at Asia Society Museum, New York, NY as part of the permanent collection, (through Dec. 4, 2016.)

Xu Bing was born in Chongqing, China, in 1955. He earned his B.A. degree from the printmaking department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (CAFA) in 1981, while earning his MFA in 1987. The artist moved to the United States in 1990. From 2008 to 2014, Xu served as the vice president of CAFA, where he is now a professor and the director of the Academic Committee. He currently lives and works in Beijing and New York. 

Xu has held solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the British Museum, London, among other major institutions. Additionally, Xu’s works have been displayed at the 45th, 51st, and 56th Venice Biennales, the Biennale of Sydney, and the Johannesburg Biennale, among other international exhibitions. 

In 1999, Xu Bing was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his “capacity to contribute importantly to society, particularly in printmaking and calligraphy.” In 2006, the Southern Graphics Council conferred on Xu its lifetime achievement award in recognition of the fact that his “use of text, language and books has impacted the dialogue of the print and art worlds in significant ways.” In 2015, he was awarded the 2014 Department of State-Medal of Arts for his efforts to promote cultural understanding through his artworks. His work is part of the Asia Society’s permanent collection with his video art on view: “Excuse me sir: can you tell me how to get to the Asia Society?”

Vishakha N. Desai served as President and CEO of the Asia Society, a global organization dedicated to strengthening partnerships among peoples of Asia and the U.S. from 2004 through 2012. As President, she set the direction for the Society’s diverse sets of programs ranging from policy initiatives and national educational programs to ground breaking exhibitions and performing arts programs throughout its network of eleven offices in the U.S. and Asia. Under her leadership the society expanded the scope and scale of its activities with the opening of new offices in India and Korea, a new center of U.S.–China Relations, various leadership initiatives, and inauguration of two new architecturally distinguished facilities in Hong Kong and Houston. Prior to becoming President, Desai held various senior positions at the Asia Society from 1990 to 2004. 

A Scholar of Asian Art and a public intellectual, Desai is a frequent speaker at international forums on subjects focusing on cultural roots of Asia’s economic and political transformation and challenges and has authored opinion pieces on political, cultural, and women’s development in Asia. Author of major exhibition catalogues and editor of a major scholarly publication on Asian Art History for the 21st Century, Desai is internationally recognized for her leadership in presenting contemporary Asian arts and ideas to western audiences.

Michelle Yun (moderator) is Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Asia Society Museum where she oversees the museum’s initiatives in modern and contemporary visual art by Asian and Asian American artists.


Event Details

Wed 16 Nov 2016
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, NYC
Buy Tickets
FREE for members; $12 seniors/students, $15 nonmembers.
Add to Calendar 20161116T233000 20161117T013000 UTC Asia Society: Remembering the Future: Reflecting on the Legacy of Asia Society Museum's Contemporary Art Exhibitions 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, NYC
If you bought tickets or plan to watch the webcast tell your friends on Facebook!