A series bringing together researchers from across the world to discuss critical issues in early, modern and contemporary Asian art. In 2024, the series focus is on the theme of community.
In 2024 the Sydney Asian Art Series invites four international scholars to share innovative research on the theme of “Community”.
In the study of Asian art history, much attention has been paid to the impact of art associations and patronage circles on the development of art movements, and the periodisation of styles and concepts. The work of these four scholars considers communities spanning gender, race and ideological differences, in Southeast Asian moving image practices, socially engaged art initiatives in contemporary Japan, photography and race in postwar Korean camptowns, as well as art collectives and workers' unions in Thailand. While global connectedness might foster the mainstreaming of creative practices, the research of these four scholars instead considers communities that exceed or evade the contours of nations, regions or language groups, often advocating for new ways of making and seeing.
In 2024, the Series will also welcome its second ever Scholar in Residence, Thanavi Chotpradit. Thanavi is a lecturer of modern and contemporary art history in Thailand at Silpakorn University, Bangkok, and will be spending a number of weeks in Sydney delivering public programs, and interacting with students and colleagues.
SAAS 2023-25: Cūra
From 2023 to 2025 the series will pursue an ambitious new research agenda, entitled “Cūra: Collection, Community, Care”. Over three years, the series will gather together leading scholars on collecting histories, object provenance, shifting notions of custodianship, and the role of researchers and curators as agents of care for artworks and their communities.
It is often noted that at the root of the English term “curatorship” is “cūra”, the Latin word meaning “care”. Less often remarked, however, is the term’s etymological link to the goddess Cūra, said to have fashioned the first human from clay.
This double meaning of cūra, as both practice of care and object of devotion, underpins not just the practice of curating, but also the entire apparatus of Euro-American practices and institutions that produce culture in modernity. Indeed, for the modern German philosopher Martin Heidegger, cūra was akin to what he called “being-in-the-world”.
This research agenda asks: How have these practices of cūra shaped Asian art history? And what alternative practices and institutions of collecting, community and care might exist?
The 2023 series began this investigation with a focus on “collection”, lead by convenor Dr Olivier Krischer with co-convenor Dr Alex Burchmore. In 2024, the series will focus on “community” (with co-convenor Dr Yvonne Low), considering modes of curating, sharing and engagement, while in 2025, we will explore “care” (with co-convenor Dr Peyvand Firouzeh), delving into shifting understandings of conservation and custodianship, as well as our very notions of art and its authors.
A lecture on the moving image in contemporary Southeast Asian art, and its relationship to both the region's historical vanguardism, and the broader circuits of global contemporary art.
May Adadol Ingawanij
May Adadol Ingawanij | เม อาดาดล อิงคะวณิช is a writer, curator, and teacher, Professor of Cinematic Arts and Co-director of the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media, University of Westminster. She publishes in English, Thai, and in translation, across a wide range of academic and arts publications. Her recent and ongoing curatorial projects include Animistic Apparatus, Legacies, 69th Flaherty Film Seminar – To Commune (co-curated with Julian Ross).
A lecture on the importance of community-art projects in contemporary Japanese art.
Justin Jesty researches the relationship between art and social movements in postwar Japan. His book Art and Engagement in Early Postwar Japan (Cornell University Press 2018) was awarded the 2019 ASAP Book Prize by the Association for the Study of Arts of the Present. He is currently researching contemporary socially engaged art in Japan. In 2017 he edited a two-part special issue on the topic in FIELD: A Journal of Socially-Engaged Art Criticism. He has also published several articles on postwar social documentary. All articles are available at https://washington.academia.edu/JustinJesty.
Black Portraiture from the Streets of Dongducheon: Rethinking Race, Intimacies, and the Visuality of the Korean Camptown
A lecture on Korean photographer Yong Suk Kang’s long forgotten 1982 camptown photography series, From Dongducheon, and the racial capitalism undergirding camptown service economies.
Jung Joon Lee
Jung Joon Lee is Associate Professor in the Department of Theory and History of Art and Design at Rhode Island School of Design. Lee was a 2022-23 Society for the Humanities Fellow at Cornell University and visiting scholar at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of Communications and Arts in Spring 2022. Specializing in the history and theory of photography, Lee’s research interests span the intersections of art and politics, transoceanic intimacies and decoloniality, and gender and sexuality. Lee is currently working a book project exploring photography and art exhibitions as the space of transoceanic collaboration, kinship making, and repair.
A lecture on the creative labour movement in Thailand, and the politics of precarity, solidarity and collectivism.
Thanavi Chotpradit is a lecturer of history of modern and contemporary art in Thailand at the Department of Art History, Faculty of Archaeology, Silpakorn University, Bangkok. She is an independent curator, a member of the editorial collective of a peer-review journal Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia and a co-founder of “readtherunes”, a Bangkok-based publisher. She participated in a cross-regional research program, “Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art,” developed by the Power Institute Foundation for Art and Visual Culture, University of Sydney, Australia, and funded by the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative (2015-2016). Her research on the photographs of the 6th October Massacre (1976) is funded by the National Research Council of Thailand (2019-2022). She is a co-curator of Phantasmapolis: 2021 Asian Art Biennial at National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. Her latest article “Shattering Glass Ceiling: Art and Activism in Thailand since 2020” is published in The Routledge Companion to Art and Activism in the Twenty-First Century, (Routledge, New York and London, 2023). Her areas of interest include modern and Thai contemporary art in relation to memory studies, war commemoration, Thai politics and archival practices.