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‘Pollination’ is initiated by The Factory, a program driven by the need to create critically active and supportive artist-curator-community networks within South East Asia. The inaugural edition is co-developed and co-sponsored, with SAM Fund for Arts and Ecology (Indonesia). In March and June 2018, selected Indonesian curator Grace Samboh conducted her residency at The Factory, researching alongside Vietnamese curator Bill Nguyễn towards the realization of the joint exhibition ‘We’re in this, together’ at The Factory in December this year.

Why did The Factory initiate this program?

In Southeast Asia we possess a dynamic independent landscape of artistic initiatives, the majority of contemporary art activity occurring outside of state-sponsored cultural institutions. Also within our region, the role and understanding of ‘curatorial’ work is varied and often misrepresented (e.g. most state institutions are yet to employ curatorial staff and there are few tertiary programs that offer any study of curatorial practice). Since the late 1990s, curatorial practices and exhibition-making in the region have mostly developed outside traditional institutional museum frameworks. Contributions from artist-cum-curators, as well as artist-run initiatives, have been central in this particular development, in addition to the emergence of a new generation of curators resulting from different projects offering internship, as well as one-on-one mentorships.

On the one hand, the particularity of the art world’s infrastructure in Southeast Asia has diversified curatorial methodology in the region with unique individual practices. On the other, ‘curating’ remains largely misunderstood as the majority of general audiences have insufficient exposure and understanding of the differences and complexities of contemporary art in the region. Over the last decade there have been numerous attempts by foreign art and diplomatic institutions to better ‘network’ emerging curators from Southeast Asia. While these have been productive in introducing these players to one another’s work, there has been little further practical and physically realizable collaborations between them. ‘Pollination’, a residency and project-driven program for emerging curators and artists of Southeast Asia, attempts to address this lack of opportunity, in providing organizational collaborative platforms with which emerging curators of the region can continue to network, produce and contribute.

Aiming to set up a regional community of producers linking talent to network, space and opportunity, ’Pollination’ seeks to nurture artistic practice via curatorial enquiry, with the view that deeper connections between artists and curators enable critical reflection, writing and dialog – a discourse greatly needed as an intra-regional comparable accessible resource. ‘Pollination’ is envisaged as a long-term collaborative exercise between different institutions/community groups across Southeast Asia, with the aim of offering emerging curatorial and artistic talent the chance to work with other like-minded entities in their region. As one of the first private/non-governmental initiatives of its kind, ‘Pollination’ aims to develop and nurture the skills and relationships between artists and curators interested in working (and questioning) institutional structures of display in Southeast Asia.

Our methodology

Each year, ‘Pollination’ invites an additional institution/community group to appoint a senior curatorial advisor. They in turn select an emerging curator who follows on to select an emerging artist. Dependent on location of funds, space and time, each year an edition is realized between two cities, comprised of travel, research, production and exhibition grants in the realization of a joint project (which is open-ended in form). Regardless of project involvement, regular meetings online are arranged to mutually discuss forward projects and possible initiatives.

In 2019, we welcome ILHAM from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) as our third organizational partner for the next edition of ‘Pollination’.

Current members:
Organizations: The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, SAM Fund for Art and Ecology
Curatorial Advisors: Zoe Butt, Agung Hujatnikajennong
Participant curators: Bill Nguyễn, Grace Samboh
Participant artists: Vicky Đỗ, Julia Sarisetiati

The Factory wishes to thank Agung Hujatnikajennong, Natasha Sidharta and Rujak for their support in co-developing the inaugural ‘Pollination’.

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