Interlaced Journeys: Diaspora and the Contemporary in Southeast Asian Art

Online Book Launch

jointly presented by Asia Society Hong Kong Center and Osage Art Foundation

INTERLACED JOURNEYS| Diaspora and the Contemporary in Southeast Asian Art brings together the work of some of the most engaging art historians and curators from Southeast Asia and beyond that explores the notion of diaspora in contemporary visual culture. Regional attention on this particular condition of movement and resettlement has often been confined to sociological studies, while the place of diaspora in Southeast Asian contemporary art remains mostly unexplored. This is the first anthology to examine the subject from the complex perspective of artistic and curatorial practice as it attempts to propose multiple narratives of diaspora in relation to a range of articulations in the contemporary context.

Authors Biographies

Eva Bentcheva is an art historian and curator with a focus on performance and conceptual art from South and Southeast Asia, and their diasporas. She completed her PhD in Art History at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She was the Goethe-Institut Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-2019) at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, where she co-curated the exhibition Archives in Residence: Southeast Asia Performance Collection, and an accompanying live performance program and symposium, Pathways of Performativity in Contemporary Southeast Asian Art. She was previously an Adjunct Researcher and Visiting Research Fellow for the Tate Research Centre: Asia, and a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Art History at SOAS. She is currently writing a monograph on cultural politics, race, and transnationalism in performance art in Britain since the 1960s, as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre in London. 

Zasha Colah is a curator invested in acts of individual and collective imagination in global art history, through the prisms of illegality, cultural sovereignty (especially in prolonged militarized situations), and cross-cultural transfer. She co-founded a research collaborative, black rice in Tuensang (2007), and an artist and curatorial collaborative, Clark House Initiative in Mumbai (2010-ongoing). She co-curated the third edition of the Pune Biennale with Luca Cerizza, titled Habit-co-Habit. Artistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces (2017), and she was part of the curatorial team of the second Yinchuan Biennale, Starting from the Desert. Ecologies on the Edge (2018), under the direction of Marco Scotini. She teaches comparative curatorial theory within the curatorial course at NABA Milan since 2018. Her writings have been included in The New Curator (Laurence King, 2016), The Curatorial Conundrum (MIT Press, 2016), and Curating Under Pressure (On Curating, 2018). She lives in Torino and Mumbai.

Patrick D. Flores is Professor of Art Studies at the Department of Art Studies at the University of the Philippines, which he chaired from 1997 to 2003, and Curator of the Vargas Museum in Manila. He was one of the curators of Under Construction: New Dimensions in Asian Art in 2000 and the Gwangju Biennale (Position Papers) in 2008. He was a Visiting Fellow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1999 and an Asian Public Intellectuals Fellow in 2004. Among his publications are Painting History: Revisions in Philippine Colonial Art (1999); Remarkable Collection: Art, History, and the National Museum (2006); and Past Peripheral: Curation in Southeast Asia (2008). He was a grantee of the Asian Cultural Council (2010) and a member of the Advisory Board of the exhibition The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds After 1989 (2011), organized by the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, and a member of the Guggenheim Museum’s Asian Art Council (2011 and 2014). He co-edited the Southeast Asian issue of Third Text (2011) with Joan Kee. He convened in 2013, on behalf of the Clark Institute and the Department of Art Studies of the University of the Philippines, the conference “Histories of Art History in Southeast Asia” in Manila. He was a Guest Scholar of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles in 2014. He curated exhibitions on contemporary art from Southeast Asia for the series South by Southeast in 2015 and 2019 and the Philippine Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2015. He is the Artistic Director of the 2019 Singapore Biennale.

Brigitta Isabella is a writer and researcher in the field of art history and criticism. She is affiliated with KUNCI Cultural Studies Center since 2011, and part of the editorial collective of Southeast of Now: New Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art, a new peer reviewed journal published by the National University of Singapore (NUS) press. She received grants from Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art History program (2015-2016) for her research on Indonesian cultural diplomacy during the Cold War, and from the Indonesian Visual Art Archive (2015) for her research on Chinese-Indonesian artists in the period from 1950s-1960s. In 2014, she initiated From Bandung to Berlin, a collaborative and long-term artistic research platform which revolves around the 1955 Bandung Conference and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Nikos Papastergiadis is Director of the Research Unit in Public Cultures and Professor at the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne and Visiting Professor in the School of Art, Design, and Media at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His publications include Modernity as Exile (1993), Dialogues in the Diaspora (1998), The Turbulence of Migration (2000), Metaphor and Tension (2004), Spatial Aesthetics: Art Place and the Everyday (2006), Cosmopolitanism and Culture (2012), and Ambient Perspectives (2014). He is the author of numerous essays which have been translated into over a dozen languages and appeared in major catalogues such as the biennales of Sydney, Liverpool, Istanbul, Gwangju, Taipei, Lyon, and Thessaloniki, and in Documenta 13 (2012).

Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani is an independent curator, writer, and lecturer of Southeast Asian contemporary art. Her research and curatorial practice revolve around critical sociopolitical issues in Southeast Asia, advocating a counter-hegemonic and non-Western-centric discourse. She contributes to academic journals such as Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore; Frames Cinema Journal (University of St Andrews, UK); and New Asian Imaginations (NAFA University, Singapore). Her curatorial projects include Pure Land: A Solo Show by Dinh Q Le (2019) at Tang Contemporary Art Bangkok; Diaspora: Exit, Exile, Exodus of Southeast Asia (2018-2019) at the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, for which she also edited the accompanying publication; Heads or Tails? Uncertainties and Tensions in Contemporary Thailand (2017) at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery (New York); The Game/Viet Nam by LE Brothers (2016) at the Jim Thompson Art Center (Bangkok); and, Architectural Landscapes: SEA in the Forefront (2015) at the Queens Museum (New York). She holds an MA in Asian Art Histories from LASALLE-Goldsmiths College of the Arts, Singapore, and is undertaking postgraduate research at the department of Art History and Archeology at SOAS, London, with a focus on theoretical and cross-cultural studies. She lives in London, UK, and Bangkok, Thailand.

Vipash Purichanont is an independent curator and a co-founder of Waiting You Curator Lab, a curatorial collective based in Chiangmai. Purichanont received his doctoral degree in Curatorial/Knowledge from the Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London. Purichanont’s practice has its roots in collaboration. Most of his theoretical work focus on notions of collectivity and community as well as caring and sharing. His previous curatorial projects included Concept Context Contestation: Art and the Collective in Southeast Asia at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (2014); Couldn’t Care Less: Cross Cultural Live Art Project at the Deptford Lounge in Southeast London (2015); and Metaphors: An Evening of Sound and Moving Image with Kick the Machine at the Bangkok City Gallery (2017). He was an assistant curator for the 1st Thailand Biennale (Krabi, 2018) and is one of the curators of the 2019 Singapore Biennale. Purichanont was shortlisted for the ICI Gerrit Lansing Independent Vision Curatorial Award 2018. He is a lecturer at the department of Art History, Faculty of Archeology, Silpakorn University, Bangkok.

Niranjan Rajah is faculty at the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. He previously worked at the Fakulti Seni Gunaan dan Kreatif, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Malaysia. Niranjan has curated/co-curated important exhibitions including 1st Electronic Art Show, National Visual Art Gallery Malaysia (NVAG), 1997; Insyirah: The Art of Sulaiman Esa from 1980-2000, Galeri Petronas, 2001; Bara Hati Bahang Jiwa: Expression and Expressionism in Contemporary Malaysian Art, NVAG, 2002; and 36 IDEAS from Asia, Singapore Art Museum/ASEAN COCI, travelling Europe and Japan, 2002-2004. He was consultant to the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale in 1999; Asia Pacific Triennial in 1999; and Gwangju Biennale in 2000. Niranjan’s The Failure of Marcel Duchamp/Japanese Fetish Even! (1996) is the first identified work of internet art in Southeast Asia. He co-founded E-Art ASEAN Online, 1999-2003, a pioneering regional electronic arts portal. Niranjan has presented in retrospectives including Rupa Malaysia, NVAG, 2001; RELOCATIONS – Electronic Art of Hasnul Jamal Saidon & Niranjan Rajah, ISEA Singapore, 2008; and Intersecting Histories, School of Art, Design and Media Gallery, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 2012. His Koboi Project ( was exhibited at Fergana Art, Penang, 2015; NVAG, 2016; Singapore Biennale 2016; Burning Man, Nevada, 2017; Kuala Lumpur Biennale 2017; Bangkok Biennial 2018; and Courtyard Hiroo, Tokyo, 2018.

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials is Professor of English and Asian/Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut (Storrs) where she has been the Director of the UConn Asian and Asian American Studies Institute from 2010-2017. In addition to numerous published book chapters, articles, reviews, and edited collections, she is the author of two monographs: Modeling Citizenship: Jewish and Asian American Writing (Temple University Press, 2011) and War, Genocide, and Justice: Cambodian American Memory Work (University of Minnesota Press, 2012). She is the current President of the Association of Asian American Studies and is a co-editor for Temple University Press’s Asian American History and Culture series.

Ashley Thompson is Hiram W. Woodward Chair in Southeast Asian Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. At SOAS she also acts as Academic Lead of the Alphawood-funded Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme. She is a specialist in Southeast Asian cultural histories, with particular expertise on Cambodia. Publications of particular relevance to the essay included in the present volume include “Mnemotechnical Politics: Rithy Panh’s Cinematic Archive and the Return of Cambodia’s Past,” in Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art: A Critical Anthology (2012);  “Forgetting to Remember, Again: on Curatorial Practice and ‘Cambodian’ Art in the Wake of Genocide” in diacritics (2013); and Engendering the Buddhist State: Territory, Sovereignty and Sexual Difference in the Inventions of Angkor (Routledge Critical Buddhist Studies, 2016).   

Nikita Yingqian Cai lives and works in Guangzhou, where she is currently Chief Curator at the Guangdong Times Museum. She curated the exhibitions Zhou Tao: The Ridge in the Bronze Mirror (2019); Omer Fast: The Invisible Hand (2018); A Man Who Never Threw Anything Away (2017); Pan Yuliang: A Journey to Silence (Villa Vassilieff in Paris and Guangdong Times Museum, 2017); Big Tail Elephants: One Hour, No Room, Five Shows (2016); Roman Ondák: Storyboard (2015); You Can Only Think about Something if You Think of Something Else (2014); Jiang Zhi: If This is a Man (2012); and A Museum That is Not (2011). She has initiated an annual para-curatorial symposium since 2012, which features topics such as: No Ground Underneath: Curating on the Nexus of Changes; Active Withdrawal: Weak Institutionalism and the Institutionalization of Art Practice; Cultivate or Revolutionize? Life between Apartment and Farmland; Between Knowing and Unknowing: Research in-and-through Art; Reciprocal Encounters: The Enactment of Collecting and its Modes of Representation; In the Name of Archive: Re-imagining History as Contemporary Art Practice; and, South of the South: Rhetorics of Geography and Imageries of Delinking. She launched the research residency “All the Way South” in 2016 and is co-editing a digital journal under the same title forthcoming in 2019. Her writings have appeared in a number of publications and magazines, and her recent research focuses on the fluidity of gender, modernity at large, and non-state utopias in the southern constellation. She was awarded the Asian Cultural Council Fellowship in 2019.


osage art foundation

Osage Art Foundation was established in 2005 with three main goals – fostering Creative Communities, promoting Cultural Co-operation and building Creative Capacity and has since played an active role in developing education and training of young people, broadening cultural awareness and participation in artistic endeavours, nurturing creativity and critical thinking and fostering international cultural exchange.

The Osage Art Foundation is now well known and recognised by the local community and internationally as having initiated many pioneering projects of international calibre.

The current focus of the Osage Art Foundation is on developing deeper discourse in and around the arts in the wider community. We believe that research, analysis, examination and promulgation of issues pertaining to society, contemporary culture and value by artists, writers, critics, curators and commentators will build better understanding of regional perspectives throughout Asia and beyond.