“That is no country for old men” is the first line of a poem by William Butler Yeats inspired by the arts of the Medieval empire, and also the title of a novel by Cormac McCarthy, which was adapted into a movie by the Coen Brothers. This transmission and adaptation across place, time, and form can be seen as a parallel to the history and culture of the region, “from poem to novel to film and finally to exhibition” explains exhibition curator June Yap.
No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia presents South and Southeast Asia in terms of transformation and trace, charting patterns of historical and contemporary influence within and beyond the region itself.
With a narrative stretching back to the ancient kingdoms and empires from which they emerged, No Country seeks to reflect upon exchanges and relationships within and between South and Southeast Asian nation-states, as well as on the overall status of the nation-state today and the pressures and effects of globalization and colonialism.
The artworks are grouped according to four themes: reflection and encounter, intersections and dualities, diversities and divisions, and the desire for unity and community. No Country presents artworks that challenge and explore the region’s historical ambiguities, territories both psychic and literal, individual subjectivities, and political, economic, and aesthetic negotiations.
The exhibition is part of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, which fosters cross-cultural interaction between artists, curators, and audiences via educational programs, online activities, and collection building. It focuses on three regions – South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa.
No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia was first presented in New York at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2013 before its recent showing at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center.
Curated by June Yap, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, South and Southeast Asia, the exhibition will feature 19 paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, and mixed-media works by 16 artists and collectives from 11 countries: Bani Abidi (Pakistan), Reza Afisina (Indonesia), Poklong Anading (Philippines), Sheela Gowda (India), Shilpa Gupta (India), Amar Kanwar (India), Vincent Leong (Malaysia), Tran Luong (Vietnam), Tayeba Begum Lipi (Bangladesh), Tuan Andrew Nguyen (Vietnam), The Otolith Group (United Kingdom), Sopheap Pich (Cambodia), Navin Rawanchaikul (Thailand), Norberto Roldan (Philippines), Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo (Indonesia), Tang Da Wu (Singapore).
Through the artworks, No Country invites audiences to engage with some of South and Southeast Asia’s most challenging and inventive artists, including Tang Da Wu, who lives and works in Singapore.
No Country’s presentation in Singapore calls for an even closer examination of regional cultural representations and relations, and suggests the possibility of a renewed understanding through a process of mutual rediscovery that transcends physical and political borders.
The presentation in Singapore will mark the debut of two works from the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund not previously shown as part of No Country: Loss by Sheela Gowda and Morning Glory by Sopheap Pich. The exhibition also features individual video installation rooms for works by Tran Luong and the Otolith Group.
All works have been newly acquired for the Guggenheim’s collection under the auspices of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund. The initiative builds upon and reflects the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s distinguished history of internationalism and significantly increases the Guggenheim’s holdings of art from these dynamic communities.
No Country will be presented at Singapore’s Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), a national research center of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
The exhibition is accompanied by a variety of educational programs at the Centre for Contemporary Art and online. The initiative’s online environment features individual artist pages and writing, audio and video by curators, art historians, artists, and regional experts. As part of its mission to encourage cross-cultural dialogue about contemporary art and cultural practice, the Guggenheim has worked in close collaboration with the CCA, the Singapore Teachers Academy for the Arts and Singapore’s National Gallery to develop interactive exhibition touring strategies for adults and youth. Teacher Resource Guides will be provided in print and online formats.
Exhibition: No Country: Contemporary Art For South And Southeast Asia
Dates: 10 May – 20 July 2014
Venue: Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Gillman Barracks, Singapore
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