Forum for the Arts 2003: "Comparative Contemporaries"

The Substation Guinness Theatre
18 Oct (Sat) 2003 / 10:30am – 6pm

Source: Asia Art Archive


David Chan, T.K Sabapathy, Lee Weng Choy, Lucy Davis and Christine Clark

Lee Weng Choy

This one-day symposium features a keynote presentation by art historian T K Sabapathy, Director, CAAC, and presentations by Lee Weng Choy, artistic co-director, The Substation; Patrick Flores, University of the Philippines; Zoe Butt, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; and Kevin Chua, University of California, Berkeley. Underlying the symposium is this one question: how would you produce an anthology of existing writing on Southeast Asian art of the last fifteen-plus years? While the symposium does not aim to lead directly to the production of such an anthology—that would require far more research and work than can be accomplished at a single gathering—our aim is to intensively discuss and debate the questions concerning such a project.

In recent years, there have been a significant number of regional and international conferences, symposia and workshops on contemporary visual art from Asia. These events have been important gatherings for artists, art critics, academics, administrators, curators, and general audiences to learn about the diverse art practices in the region and to develop networks between various individuals and institutions. However, many of these events have been characterised by certain shortcomings: too often participants talk only about their respective countries; participants hardly refer to, let alone engage in-depth with, other people’s writing and research; and participants lack a larger, longer and deeper perspective of what is and what has been happening in the region.

There is a growing awareness of this problem. But while the calls for more artwriting and publishing are becoming more frequent, the question is, what is being done about it? After a significant fifteen-plus years of production and presentation of contemporary Asian art in all manner of platforms, it is indeed timely that this field and period of art practices receive much more rigorous and intensive study.

There already is a substantial body of writing on contemporary Asian as well as Southeast Asian art. But this body of diverse writing on the contemporary art of Southeast Asia, in particular, remains largely uncollated, insufficiently analysed and poorly disseminated. There are, however, a number of ongoing projects and some relatively new initiatives aimed at furthering the writing and research in this field. One of them is The Substation’s Forum for the Arts 2003: “Comparative Contemporaries”.

Forum for the Arts 2003: “Comparative Contemporaries” is a collaboration with IFIMA, the International Forum for Inter-Media Arts, and the CAAC, Contemporary Asian Arts Centre, Singapore. Forum for the Arts 2003 is sponsored by the Shaw Foundation and the National Arts Council.

1) T K Sabapathy, Contemporary Asian Arts Centre, Singapore (CAAC)
2) Patrick Flores, University of the Philippines
3) Zoe Butt, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
4) Kevin Chua, University of California, Berkeley
5) Lee Weng Choy, The Substation, Singapore
6) Ray Langenbach, independent theorist and artist, Malaysia
7) Lucy Davis, Forum on Contemporary Art & Society (FOCAS), Singapore
8) Jay Koh, International Forum of Inter-Media Arts (IFIMA), Singapore/ Burma
9) Chu Chu Yuan, IFIMA
10) Grant Kester, University of California, San Diego
11) Suenne Megan Tan, Singapore Art Museum
12) Sharmini Pereira, independent curator, UK / Sri Lanka
13) Claire Hsu, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong
14) Ashley Carruthers, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
15) Ho Tzu Nyen, associate artist, The Substation
16) Ly Daravuth, Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture, Cambodia
17) Peter Schoppert, Singapore University Press
18) Isrizal, associate artist, The Substation
19) Jason Wee, Vehicle, visual arts magazine
20) Joan Kee, independent scholar, Hong Kong / Korea / USA
21) C J Wee Wan-Ling, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
22) David Chan, independent curator, Hong Kong
23) Chaitanya Sambrani, Australian National University
24) Cheo Chai-Hiang, artist, Singapore
25) Yeyey Cruz, Lopez Museum, Philippines
26) Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez, Pananaw, Philippine Journal of Visual Arts
27) John Low, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA)
28) Michael Lee, NAFA
29) Gridthiya Gaweewong, Project 304, Thailand
30) Colin Reaney, National Institute of Education, Singapore
31) Venka Purushothaman, LaSalle-SIA College of the Arts, Singapore
32) Low Sze Wee, Singapore Art Museum
33) Christine Clark, Australian National University
34) Joyce Toh, Singapore Art Museum

The Substation project team:
Lee Weng Choy & Audrey Wong, Artistic Co-Directors
Malissa Gough, General Manager
Celine Yeo & Cyril Wong, Project