‘Artist as Curator’ Symposium: ‘Where Monsoons Meet: Curatorial Currents in Southeast Asia’

David Teh

Videos / 28.01.2013
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Video documentation of the Afterall ‘Artist as Curator’ Symposium. David Teh presents ‘Where Monsoons Meet: Curatorial Currents in Southeast Asia’, followed by a discussion between Alison Green, David Teh and Charles Esche, Series Editor, Afterall Exhibition Histories.

In a recent essay for Afterall journal (‘Who Cares a Lot?’, issue 30), I examined the work of a dynamic group of artist-curators, the Jakarta-based artist-run initiative, ruangrupa. While its members are abreast of, and fully engaged with, the problematics of contemporary art in its 'global' phase, I argued that their work should nevertheless be understood first as exemplary of a local contemporaneity. For the group embodies a certain spirit of curatorship indissociable from its time and place, and a 'curatorial function' – perhaps specific to Southeast Asia – in which the artist-curator has long been a professional norm, rather than the hybrid exception. In this paper I will try to sketch this regionally specific professional history, with reference to socio-political conditions shared across the region, and to others peculiar to certain localities within it. A supplementary goal will be to keep in view a historical experience of communication technologies that may be seen as engines of a certain globalisation of the image – and of a certain image of globalisation – that have structured the economy of appearances in Southeast Asia since the early 1970s.


– David Teh, abstract, ‘Where Monsoons Meet: Curatorial Currents in Southeast Asia’

David Teh works at the National University of Singapore in the fields of critical theory and visual culture. His research focuses on contemporary art in Southeast Asia. From 2005 to 2009 he was an independent critic and curator based in Bangkok. Recent projects include ‘The More Things Change...’ (5th Bangkok Experimental Film Festival, 2008), ‘Unreal Asia’ (55. Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Germany, 2009) and ‘Video Vortex #7’ (Yogyakarta, 2011). He is a director of Future Perfect, a new gallery and project platform in Singapore.