IVAA Conversations @Bazaar Art 2014

IVAA Conversations @Bazaar Art 2014

June Yap (Independent Curator, Singapore)
Dr. Thomas J. Berghuis (Curator for Guggenheim Museum, NY)
Hammad Nasar (Head of Research Dept., Asia Art Archive, HK)

In conversation with Farah Wardani and Enin Supriyanto
@ Bazaar Art Jakarta 2014
Ritz Carlton Ballroom, Pacific Place, Jakarta
SATURDAY, JULY 19, 2014 | 2.00 PM — 5.30 PM


This year Indonesian Visual Art Archive (IVAA) is collaborating with Jakarta Arts Consultancy in hosting an educational program during the week of Bazaar Art Jakarta. This session will be held in conjunction with the 2014 edition of Bazaar Art Jakarta, on Saturday, July 19th, 2014, at the Ritz Carlton, Pacific Place, Jakarta. We are expecting a crowd containing some of the most prominent local and regional collectors, artists, gallerists and curators who are eager to get critical insights and information about the future of Southeast Asian contemporary art in the current globalized contemporary art scenes.

The IVAA Conversations @Bazaar Art 2014 will focus on sharing information and thoughts on the issue of Indonesian contemporary art exposures and engagement with the regional and international development. To cover this issue, we have invited three prominent experts in this area of interes. They are: Ms. June Yap, the curator of the 2012 Curator of Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, Dr. Thomas J. Berghuis, the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Curator of Chinese Art at the Guggenheim Museum, New York and Dr. Hammad Nasar, Head of Research Department, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong. They will join a set of talks in a one-day program with Farah Wardani from Indonesian Visual Art Archive and Enin Supriyanto, curator of Bazaar Art Jakarta 2014.

Allow us take this opportunity to extend a cordial invitation to you, and we are looking forward to welcoming you in Jakarta to join our conversations.

For registration, please email Pitra Hutomo pitra@ivaa-online.org

Program Agenda: SATURDAY, JULY 19, 2014 | 2.00 PM — 5.30 PM


Speakers’ Notes

June Yap
(Un)Mapping Indonesia

While the energies of the contemporary focus on the ever-new and unexpected in artistic practice and form, a wealth of possibilities lie in the combinations of the historical and the present, expressed both in artworks, and the discursive narratives of these artworks. The subject of concern in the exhibition ‘No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia’ – given its rather broad assigned scope – was of representation, responding to the specificities of regionalism and globality in the project of mapping as well as its assumptions. That is, to reflect upon the idea that art can, does, and should provide for (or perhaps should instead resist) the reduction of the culture, conditions and concerns of a peoples that is defined and validated by the idea of the nation state.

The fact is that most nation states in South and Southeast Asia, as we understand them today, have been constituted within the past century, and thus these delineations are neither inevitable, nor indefinite. Rather communities are increasingly faced with the problems of immigration, fundamentalism and secession. Yet, this geopolitical shorthand of nation, defined with territory as the “crucial diacritic” (Arjun Appadurai’s term) of sovereignty, that is lingua franca of global politics and economics, is often reinforced in cultural production and discourse. It is perhaps an unsurprising state of affairs, as culture too is entangled with politics, economics and global flows. The philosophical question that was posed through curation was whether culture could exceed such definition: of whether art could escape from the confines of its classifications and interpretations, and whether the exhibition could subvert itself. Given its regional survey, within the exhibition the nation still is held as marker, or sign, but where its assumption of distinction is instead challenged. The project explored two trajectories of narratives of style, form and history in Indonesian contemporary art.

Nevertheless, this is certainly but one way to develop an exhibition as a discursive platform. With the expansion and diversity of art practices in Indonesia today, singular narratives appear disingenuous, and it is the possibilities of other discursive trajectories that makes contemporary practice not merely exciting to contemplate, but critical to contemporary life. Taking this as a point of departure, of interest then is a reflection on the choices that can be made in representing, constituting, reading, interpreting and complicating, the national – and in this case, the Indonesian – imaginary via art. — Jun Yap.


Dr. Thomas J. Berghuis
Contemporary Art – The Role of Commissioning

The time is here again to raise the question of “what is contemporary art?” What do we make of it, as artists, curators, art critics, critical thinkers, art historians, gallerists, collectors and the general public? Looking at the recent attention for contemporary art, the answer could be simple: contemporary art is what makes draws the attention of the contemporary art world. There seems to be a cycle in the attention for contemporary art. Contemporary art is what drives our attention in the contemporary. Yet, do we actually have a sense of what contemporary art is? What does it do? When is it contemporary? Most important is the role of the artist and through the role of the artist to emphasize the role of commissioning artists to produce new works of art.

Most of the discussions on contemporary art take place at the level of production, distribution, and collecting. Instead, the time seems right again to speak about commissions, and through commissions to speak about the role of philanthropy. Literally, philanthropy means “the love of humanity” – a sense of caring, nourishing and enhancing “what it means to be human.” Commissioning artists and their artworks means working out their dreams, ambitions, and desires to relate their work to the dreams, ambitions and desires of contemporary culture and society. As such, commissioning artists shares the role of philanthropy in enhancing the contact between art and humanity.

In 2013, I curated an exhibition titled Suspended Histories, raising the question of whether contemporary artist and contemporary art could rejuvenate histories and generate new histories at a time when history lies suspended; on hold. The idea of the exhibition was to commission new works by artists from across the Asia-Pacific in the context of the Museum Van Loon in Amsterdam, the history of which goes back to the founding of the VOC (The Dutch East Indies Company) – one of the first global investment companies, with an invested interest in taking the resources of the East for its demand and consumption in the West (i.e. Europe).

Located in the history of the VOC (The Dutch East Indies Company), the exhibition had a strong focus on Indonesia, and on the Dutch in Indonesia. However, rather than considering colonial and post-colonial history the exhibition considered the time when both these histories lie suspended (i.e. on hold; stationary; and “hanging in the air”). The idea behind Suspended Histories was to ask contemporary artists to reactivate history, to regenerate multiple histories, and to respond to the “suspense” (i.e. uncertainty and anticipation) and the “suspension” (i.e. postponement and deferral) of history, including colonial and post-colonial history.

Artists came from across the Asia-Pacific, including from Indonesia. But what is important is that they all came with new ways of activating new, multiple histories, most of which were linked to the past, but were also clearly located in the present. Instead of regenerating colonial or post-colonial histories, the artists all based their works to the present relationships that the artists themselves have with the past; including how the past lives on into the present. Through commissioning artists to work on their own reflections of history, and their creating new histories, the art that was created becomes contemporary art.

Contemporary art is that which is created in the time and space of the contemporary. Contemporary art cannot be produced; it can only be created. Its presence in time is essential, and therefore it can only be made in the context of real time and in the context of the actual space of contemporary time. Performance art maybe the most contemporary art form, since it is created in real time and in the real space of time, never mediated by any other but the contemporary artists and his/her contemporary audience. Yet, contemporary art can also produce other works beside performance art, such as in the case of commissioning new works of art. Commissioning new works of art becomes the leitmotiv of contemporary art

In my position as The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Curator of Chinese Art, the emphasis is on commissioning new works by contemporary Chinese artists for exhibition and collection in the Guggenheim Museum in New York in order to enhance the discourse of contemporary art from Greater China in a global, contemporary art environment. The same could be the case for Indonesian art or contemporary art from Asia, where the Guggenheim Museum has a strong legacy to build on its engagement with contemporary art with this important region.

Through the Asian Art Initiative, and the UBS Map Global Art Initiative, the Guggenheim Museum engages with artists and art from Asia (and Southeast Asia) in a significant way. It has certainly worked hard to consider the important emphasis needed on recognizing the important contributions that artists from Asia and across the world have made to the field of modern and contemporary art by not just focusing on artists from Europe and the United States, but having an important Asian Art Initiative, already since 2006.

With The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative the important focus is on commissioning new works by contemporary artists from Greater China in order to expand the discourse of contemporary Chinese art. The initiative drives on its important location in Asia – with the Foundation in Hong Kong, and in close proximity to China, Taiwan, Macao, and Chinese artists living overseas. At the same time the initiative thrives on bringing that experience of China and Chinese art in close contact to the Guggenheim Museum in New York, with its Asian Art Initiative and Global Art Initiative, as well as with the Guggenheim Museums in Bilbao and soon Abu Dhabi, generating platforms for transnational and international exchanges.

When raising the question of “what is contemporary art” one can think of the many platforms that have been built to find the answers. But none are as important as to actually establishing new initiatives for commissioning artist, curators and institutions to work on making contemporary art. The future of contemporary Indonesian art could also focus on developing new incentives for commissioning artists and new works of art, both in Asia and in the context of the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In 2006 the Guggenheim launched its Asian Art Initiative, with the goal to fully integrate the history of Modern and contemporary Asian art into its exhibition programming and collecting activities. The UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, launched in 2012, and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, launched in 2013, are further attempts to strengthen the presence of international art in the Guggenheim’s programs. Through these various endeavors and initiatives, curatorial thinking has evolved to include a nuanced understanding of global or transnational currents in Modern and contemporary art that informs our approach to both an expanded view of abstraction and an effort to stay current as a museum of the present. For the New York collection, this critical investigation of transnationalism (with a particular focus on Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American art, in addition to European and American) reflects a change in cultural consciousness, one that understands the world today from multiple perspectives. Rather than regional specificity, the focus of the Guggenheim is on points of formal, conceptual and historic intersection and parallel positions. — Dr. Thomas J. Berghuis.


Hammad Nasar
The Archive as a Verb

We are in the midst of an art boom in Asia. Museums are being built. Collections are being assembled. Art fairs are being launched, developed and acquired. Gallery branches are being opened. But this boom is happening in an environment where the knowledge infrastructure around art is at best nascent and undernourished, at worst non-existent. Where significant academies producing significant scholarship are thin on the ground. Where museums with deep and canon-making collections, and substantial research efforts are sparse.
At Asia Art Archive  we often describe ourselves as a node within a network seeking to collectively address this lack. The significance of the network is in its ability to support circulation. For without such circulation, new narratives are not born and do not accumulate to achieve what Foucault memorably called the ‘density of discursive practices.’ What the network also allows is the sharing of independently generated content (between different archives), and the co-creation of content (between individuals and institutions of all shapes and sizes). For a recent project digitising the archives of an artist-run space in Vietnam, we worked with a project researcher in Ho Chi Minh City supervised by an academic in Chicago. While a video archive of performance art over the last twenty years in Malaysia and Singapore is being annotated and enriched by a PhD candidate in Hong Kong – under the supervision of the archive donor himself, an American academic now based in Finland.
It is an internet-enabled platform that makes such collaborations possible. And it is only through such collaborations and long-range exchanges between regions and geographies that we can combat the lacks we face around knowledge infrastructure all across Asia. To anchor this “boom” in history, as well as in economics.—Hammad Nasar