'Resonance' as art historical methodology
Bianca Winataputri (Monash University)
One of the key challenges when writing contemporary art history, especially that of Southeast Asia, is developing methodologies that speak to the region’s diversity and shape-shifting character. The ongoing historicisation of ‘the contemporary’ calls for a more dynamic methodology of writing art history that addresses the continuous changes across cultures, societies, and borders. Throughout my research, I have been intrigued by the idea of 'belonging,' which seems to be a contested quality in Southeast Asia. In the publication Productive Failure: Writing queer transnational South Asian art histories (2017), art historian and curator Alpesh Patel introduces a way of writing art history with art rather than about art and argued that ‘when belonging is kept open and porous, art histories (more broadly) can be dynamic and ever-changing.’ If understandings and definitions of Southeast Asia are continuously changing, it will make sense that art histories of the region be kept open to change as well.
This presentation will expand on Patel’s proposition of writing art history with art using Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen’s ongoing work and research project ‘R for Resonance’ as a methodology. Here the term ‘resonance’ is registered as a quality associated with the sound of the gong, a cast bronze instrument used for spiritual and social music rituals throughout Southeast Asia. The artwork and layered understanding of the term ‘resonance’ offers a fluid approach to the region, which encompasses geographical borders and geopolitical understandings of Southeast Asia.
Bianca Winataputri is a Melbourne-based independent curator, writer and PhD candidate in Art History and Theory at Monash Art, Design and Architecture (MADA). She was recently Public Programs coordinator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and previously Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Australia, where she was part of a curatorium for the major exhibition Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and completed her Honours year at the Australian National University where she received the Janet Wilkie Prize for Art History in 2017. Bianca’s research is focused on Southeast Asian contemporary art exhibitions and artistic practices.
Ho Tzu Nyen, still from ‘R for Resonance’, 2019. Video, 15 min 30 sec
Courtesy of the artist, Sharjah Art Foundation and Edouard Malingue Gallery
Rethreading Flow of Change of Cikapundung River
Aulia Yeru (University of New South Wales)
This presentation focuses on the first chapter of my PhD and explores the history of the structure of the Cikapundung River and its relationship with the advancement of settlement in Bandung Basin. This background is essential to the broader focus of my research, which investigates the role of artistic practice in the hydrosocial landscape of the Cikapundung River. I will introduce the hydrogeological features of the Cikapundung River and how it has developed. I will explore the traditional land arrangement by the Sundanese and the shift of settlement pattern in Cikapundung River. By comparing preserved native settlements (kampung adat) across West Java, the settlement pattern across Cikapundung River in Dutch colonial era, and current situation of the Cikapundung River. I argue there was a drastic shift from river-oriented to street-oriented settlements. This was not necessarily reflected in the visual arts, where the preferable landscape to depict was the pristine Dago Waterfall. I will address several efforts by contemporary artists to confront the municipal government policies across Cikapundung River in their work. Such attempts evidence the important role that visual art has played in the hydrosocial cycle of Cikapundung River, from perpetuating the touristic image to become the tool of resistance.
Aulia Yeru is known as a lecturer, researcher, and artist. He teaches in Intermedia Studio at Universitas Telkom, Indonesia. Currently pursuing PhD in the Art at University of New South Wales, Australia. His artworks and researches are situated on the intersection of artistic practice, environmental change and spatial production.
Intersections of the historical and the contemporary in the art of Tintin Wulia
Jennifer Yang (University of Sydney)
The presentation examines the art practice of the Chinese-Indonesian Australian artist Tintin Wulia (1972-) as a case-study for artistic strategies of social intervention in the context of post-Reformasi Indonesia and an increasingly globalised international art market. Focusing on a selection of Wulia’s key works, which have received much international acclaim, the presentation delves into questions surrounding methodology—how should such works be interpreted given that they have been popularised, recontextualised, and drawn into a global circuit of art production and consumption; and can such works still be read as forms of resistance and social critique if they predominantly take place outside of Indonesia? In attempting to formulate answers to these questions, the presentation explores the value of recognising the ways in which the historical and the contemporary intersect in Wulia’s art practice and, more broadly, in contemporary Indonesian art. Building on recent scholarship which has sought to emphasise the historically-situated nature of contemporary art emerging from Southeast Asia, the presentation links Wulia’s usage of photo-based media and experimental documentary formats to a much longer history of image-making and nation-building in Independent Indonesia, as well as to the contentious structures of spectatorship pattern the global contemporary.
Jennifer Yang completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) majoring in Art History at the University of Sydney in 2022. Her research centres on East and Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art, and she was awarded the University Medal for her dissertation on the contemporary Chinese-Indonesian artist Tintin Wulia. Her recent work includes an essay on contemporary Southeast Asian photography, published by the University of Colombia’s Undergraduate Journal of Art History, and an article on the “forgotten” Chinese-Indonesian painter Chiang Yu Tie written with the support of the Sydney Southeast Asian Centre and published by New Mandala.
Tintin Wulia, still from Ketok, 2002, 00:04:11, 4:3, colour, stereo, single-channel video. Courtesy of artist.
Views from the South: Re/Situations in contemporary Makassar art
Caitlin Hughes (University of Melbourne)
The place of contemporary Makassar art in art-historical scholarship appears to be doubly peripheralised. This is first demonstrated in South Sulawesi’s geographic position away from the ‘centre’ of contemporary Indonesian art (namely: Java and Bali). Secondly, in its so-called ‘regional’ position, what scholarship that does exist on art from Eastern Indonesia often overlooks ideas of contemporaneity; with a sizeable body of literature favouring art-historical subject matter centred on ‘traditional’ art forms. This is despite the fact that there is a significant and active community of artists, collectives, and the Makassar Biennale (established 2015) in the city.
This presentation examines the Makassar Biennale and investigates how ideas of the city are made, unmade and reimagined in contemporary art through each iteration of this event. Makassar’s geographic location in South Sulawesi and the city’s outward, ‘southward’ connections to global maritime history gives an opportunity to resituate contemporary Makassar art from a Southern perspective. In turn, the South-South networks and inter/national reach of the Biennale are illuminated, as well as the articulations of urban and regional identity. Despite what the [lack of] academic and curatorial attention on contemporary Makassar art suggests, regionality and contemporaneity can coexist in art – and, indeed, they do.
Caitlin Hughes is PhD Candidate in Art History and Curatorship at the University of Melbourne. Her PhD research focuses on contemporary Indonesian art history, framed by cross-cultural contexts and the ‘global contemporary’. Her other interests include contemporary Southeast Asian art, as well as on themes of play, futures, the environment and urban aesthetics in art from across the Asia-Pacific region. She completed a Bachelor of Art History and Curatorship (Honours, First Class) at the Australian National University in 2020, and was the 2020 recipient of the Kate and Bill Guy Prize and the Janet Wilkie Prize for her Honours thesis.