Asia Society Texas Center Opens 'New Cartographies,' a New Mixed-Media Exhibition

Exhibition Features Gallery Debut of Four Artists

HOUSTON, September 11, 2018 — Asia Society Texas Center (ASTC) opens a new mixed-media exhibition entitled New Cartographies on September 15, featuring four artists from across the U.S. and Asia making their ASTC debuts. Their work examines how maps inform, and even shape, our view of the world in sometimes inaccurate ways. The exhibition, ranging from photography to installation, runs through March 17, 2019, in the Center’s upstairs Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery.

New Cartographies delves into the unique ways that contemporary artists such as Tiffany ChungAllan deSouzaLi Songsong, and Sohei Nishino are incorporating cartography into their practices as they examine globally relevant topics such as urbanization, economic migration, environmental change, refugee movements, and the repercussions of colonial legacies.

Maps have been at the center of cultural and political exchange between Asia and the West for centuries, supplying an orientation to unfamiliar environments, an ability to communicate about foreign lands to a domestic audience, and in some instances a taxonomy that gave mapmakers a sense of control and order. Maps continue to define and help navigate diverse geographies, both in analog and digital modes. These artists take cartography in utterly new directions while challenging past norms.

“In 2018, the majority of us encounter and use maps digitally. The artists featured in New Cartographies reconnect us to the physicality of maps, and their importance in shaping histories and narratives,” says Bridget Bray, ASTC’s Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions. “This exhibition assembles a group of four artists from across Asia and the United States who raise interesting questions about something many of us rely on everyday as a factual, objective resource: the map. They re-frame maps as created documents that can share information but also can convey a certain perspective, depending on the map’s creator and their intentions.”

Individually, the artists’ works have been seen across the world and represent a diverse range of perspectives, as the artists hail from Vietnam, Kenya, Japan, and China, respectively. However, all four artists’ work sheds light on how mapmakers’ choices can alter societal impressions and therefore have long-term impact.

Fast Facts

  • Exhibition dates: Saturday, September 15, 2018 – Sunday, March 17, 2019
  • Admission: Free for members and children ages 12 and under; $8 for Nonmembers
  • Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Related Program


About the Artists

Tiffany Chung (b. 1969, Da Nang, Vietnam; lives and works in Houston) is noted for her cartographic drawings, sculptures, videos, photographs, and theater performances that examine conflict, migration, displacement, urban progress and transformation in relation to history and cultural memory. Chung’s work studies the geographical shifts in countries that were traumatized by war, human destruction, or natural disaster. Based on meticulous ethnographic research and archival documents, her work excavates layers of history, re-writes chronicles of places, and creates interventions into the spatial narratives produced through statecraft.

Chung’s works have been featured in exhibitions at the Mori Art Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and in the 2015 Venice Biennale, in the exhibition All the World’s Futures in the Arsenale, with an installation of 40 map-based drawings relating to the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Allan deSouza (b. 1958, Nairobi, Kenya; lives and works in the Bay Area) is a multi-media artist. His photography, installation, text, and performance works restage historical evidence through counter-strategies of fiction, erasure, and (mis)translation. deSouza’s recent works engage with the history of the later 19th century and connections between South Asia, East Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

His work has been exhibited in the U.S. and internationally, including at the Walther Collection, Germany; Pompidou Centre, Paris; 2008 Gwangju Biennale, Korea; 3rd Guangzhou Triennale, China; and in recent solo exhibitions at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; the Phillips Collection; the Fowler Museum; Krannert Art Museum; Talwar Gallery, NY; and Talwar Gallery, Delhi. His writings have been published in various journals, anthologies, and catalogues, including Third Text, London; Wolgan Art Monthly, South Korea; and X-TRA, Los Angeles. He is the Chair and an Associate Professor in the Department of Art Practice, UC Berkeley.

Li Songsong (b. 1973, Beijing; lives and works in Beijing) primarily employs painting in his practice, incorporating historical and political content informed by photographic research. He directs attention to the way in which societies understand their own histories, and its impact on their collective behavior. His paintings emphasize the materiality of the medium and manipulate scale, surface, and color to emphasize his themes.

He graduated from the Subsidiary School of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing in 1992 before going on to receive his BFA in oil painting from CAFA in 1996. Li has since been the focus of many publications and international exhibitions, including at Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Germany; MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, Italy; Pace Gallery, Beijing, London, and New York; and Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing and Lucerne.

Sohei Nishino (b. 1982, Hyogo, Japan; lives and works in Kanagawa and Shizuoka) is a photographer whose work focuses on the relationship between the physical body, memory, and diverse geographies. After graduating from Osaka University of the Arts in 2004, he began his Diorama Map series. The series features a “diorama” of each selected city, composed of thousands of collaged photographs which are records of his movements through its streets and architecture. The countless first-person views are printed on contact sheets and subsequently reconfigured as “maps” in his studio. The works are imbued with his experiences walking the selected cities, and capture the dynamism and subjectivity of cityscapes as we experience them.

He has exhibited his work internationally at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Daegu Photo Biennale, Korea; Saatchi Gallery, London; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; and the ICP Triennial, New York.


About Asia Society Texas Center

With 13 locations throughout the world, Asia Society is the leading educational organization promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the rest of the world. Asia Society Texas Center executes the global mission with a local focus, enriching and engaging the vast diversity of Houston through innovative, relevant programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach.


Exhibitions at Asia Society Texas Center are presented by Wells Fargo. The Japan Series is presented by Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas). Major support also comes from Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Nancy C. Allen, and Leslie and Brad Bucher, as well as The Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston Endowment, and the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. Generous funding also provided by The Clayton Fund, Texas Commission on the Arts, Wortham Foundation, Inc., The Franci Neely Foundation, Olive Jenney, Nanako and Dale Tingleaf, and Ann Wales. Additional support given by The Japan Foundation. Funding is also provided through contributions from the Friends of Asia Society, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional visual art to Asia Society Texas Center. Special exhibition support provided by Leslie and Brad Bucher.


Asia in Your Inbox

Enter your email address.

* indicates required