The exhibition “Southeast Asia Performance Collection” is conceived as part of the series ‘Archives in Residence’ which focuses on the relationship between the archive and the formation of history. The Southeast Asia Performance Collection is a digital archive and expansive research project conceived by the London-based curatorial collective Something Human, and compiled by an international team of researchers and curators in the UK and Asia between 2015 and 2017 that contains documentation of performance-based works such as live art, as well as urban and social interventions by over fifty artists from across Southeast Asia and its diasporas. This exhibition presents a selection of the collection’s video-documentation for the first time in Germany. Framed in terms of three interrelated thematic threads that run throughout the collection - “Aesthetics and Politics of ‘Publicness’”, “Contesting and Constructing Identities” and “Archival (Re)Activations” – the selected works reflect upon the archive’s exposition of performance networks and practices, particularly as they relate to the histories of Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines. Delving into the processes through which its current collection came about, the exhibition also constitutes a reflection on the dynamic processes and potential hurdles which drive the creation and maintenance of a digital archive of performance art. By highlighting the centrality of collaboration and camaraderie which have facilitated exchanges in contemporary art across Southeast Asia, the exhibition explores how the Southeast Asia Performance Collection eschews the creation of a definitive canon of performance-based art, in favor of initiating a series of non-hierarchical narratives which interject into the nascent knowledge of Southeast Asian performance practices within Europe. Bringing the ideas behind the exhibition to life will be an international symposium and curated program of live performances by artists Anida Yoeu Ali on the 27th June, Ho Rui An on the 28th June and Noel Ed De Leon on the 4th July.
The international symposium “Pathways of Performativity in Contemporary Southeast Asian Art” on the first days of the exhibition casts a spotlight on the fascinating histories of performance practices which speak to the postcolonial, Cold War and politico-economic forces that have shaped Southeast Asia after the Second World War. It brings together renowned scholars and curators from the disciplines of art history, film and theatre studies, whose work explores the central role of performance in bridging the visual arts, theatre, dance, music and political activism in the region from the 1960s to the present.
Curated by Dr Eva Bentcheva, Annie Jael Kwan and Dr Damian Lentini, in consultation with Sabine Brantl
The ‘Southeast Asia Performance Collection’ was conceived by Something Human, and is currently accessible at the Live Art Development Agency in London, UK.