Initiated by The Factory in 2018, ‘Pollination’ provides emerging curators and artists in South East Asia the opportunity to co-produce and collaborate, to mutually benefit from this region’s private arts infrastructure – platforms recognizing the value of sharing (pollinating) their critical ideas and activities.
The inaugural edition of ‘Pollination’ in 2018 was co-developed and co-sponsored by SAM Fund for Arts and Ecology, Indonesia; welcoming Agung Jennong (Bandung) as curatorial advisor for Indonesia and Zoe Butt (Saigon) as curatorial advisor for Vietnam. This edition concluded with the joint exhibition at The Factory ‘We’re in this, together’ by artists Julia Sarisetiati (Jakarta) and Vicky Đỗ (Saigon), co-curated by Grace Samboh (Yogyakarta/Medan) and Bill Nguyễn (Saigon). Select artworks from this project were also with showcases in Yogyakarta at Cemeti Institute for Art and Society, and Galeri Lorong.
In 2019, for the second edition, we welcomed ILHAM Gallery from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as our third organizational partner with Rahel Joseph as our curatorial advisor for Malaysia; with the participation of artists Izat Arif (Kuala Lumpur) and Hoàng Minh Đức (Hanoi/Melbourne) in the exhibition ‘Domestic Bliss‘ at ILHAM, co-curated by Khatijah Rahmat (Kuala Lumpur) and Lê Thuận Uyên (Saigon).
In 2020/2021, for the third edition, we welcome MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Thailand as our fourth organizational partner with Vipash Purichanont as our curatorial advisor from Thailand; with the participation of artists Maryanto (Yogyakarta) and Ruangsak Anuwatwimon (Bangkok), co-curated by LIR – Mira Asriningtyas and Dito Yuwono (Yogyakarta) – and Kittima Chareeprasit (Chiang Mai). Co-sponsored by SAM Fund for Art and Ecology and MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, this edition will comprise an exhibition (opening at MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Chiang Mai on 19 March, 2021); a symposia (occurring online on 28-30 May, 2021 co-hosted by The Factory in Ho Chi Minh City and Selasar Sunaryo Art Centre in Bandung); and a dedicated website (launching 28 May, 2021, with additional sponsorship from the Grey Center of Art and Enquiry, University of Chicago).
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.
Each year, ‘Pollination’ invites an additional organization/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.
Organizations: The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, SAM Fund for Art and Ecology, ILHAM Gallery , MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum
Advisors: Zoe Butt, Agung Hujatnikajennon, Rahel Joseph, Vipash Purichanont
Curators: Grace Samboh, Bill Nguyễn, Khatijah Rahmat, Lê Thuận Uyên, LIR (Mira Asriningtyas and Dito Yuwono), Kittima Chareeprasit
Artists: Julia Sarisetiati, Vicky Đỗ, Izat Arif, Hoàng Minh Đức, Maryanto, Ruangsak Anuwatwimon