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THE GAP WHICH SEPARATES: DISTANCE CAST AS DIFFERENCE IN ‘SOUTHEAST ASIAN CONTEMPORARY’

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Speaker: Roger Nelson
Date: 21 July 2017
Time: 7PM – 9PM
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Is thinking beyond the idea of a ‘nation’ necessary for understanding 21st century cultural life? Does discussing ourselves as a part of a ‘region’ offer an escape route from the logic of nationalism? Or are such well-intentioned ideas—increasingly prominent in contemporary artistic and curatorial practice—offer little more than wishful thinking? This talk considers recent art projects motivated by a desire to exchange and think across a region (often called a ‘post-national’ stance). Often these ‘exchanges’ emphasize unequal relationships between places and nations, especially when the distance between locations is presented as if it suggests a fundamental difference between them. This talk will discuss artistic and curatorial examples from the 1990s to the 2010s, including an unrealized proposal for a live video link between Phnom Penh and Fukuoka in 1999, and projects by Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho (New York/Manila/Berlin) and Sai Hua Kuan (Singapore). Why is the idea of the ‘nation’ so persistent in contemporary art? How might we think and work beyond this?

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