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Displays Of Internationalism | Asia Interfacing with The World Through Exhibitions, 1947-1989

Curated by Amara Antilla and Diana Campbell

The history of exhibitions has served an important role in art historical and curatorial research. Yet, even as the history of display has generated renewed scholarly interest, a critical reading of the trans-national function of exhibitions, which feature some of the most important non-Western presentations prior to 1989, has yet to be realised. How did exhibition practices create contact points between artists and thinkers from around the world? How were these transcultural networks indicative of larger political, social, and economic interests? How might exhibition histories in Asia expand our thinking about post-war global art histories?

‘Displays of Internationalism’ invited curators and scholars to examine seminal international or regional exhibitions; revisit major biennials and their role as important zones of exchange for artists, thinkers and cultural workers; and engage in self-reflective dialogues to investigate blind spots and methodological problems facing the field.

Paper Presentation:

Roots, Basics, Beginnings: The Textual and Curatorial Work of Raymundo Albano

by Patrick Flores

Session Date: 8 February 2018, 01.15 - 3.00pm

Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy


Raymundo Albano was an artist and curator in Manila. His practice as a curator at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from 1970 to 1985 generated a level of density of both discourse and procedure. In his agenda, roots, basics, beginnings matter (taken from an eponymous exhibition in 1977), Albano constitutes the material through which the process or method takes place. Whatever may be inferred or alluded to, or implicated, emerges from lineage, rudiment, origin. Whether critique comes in to complicate, or relations intervene, the ‘intelligence’ of the material cannot be severed from the ‘integrity’ of the lifeworld from which it is generated and through which such lifeworld is reinvested.  Some would call this ‘context,’ others would say it is ‘impulse’ or ‘urge.’ Whatever it is that may be brought to our attentiveness, as that which excites what we broadly reference as art, it should, in the imagination of Albano, stir up a world ‘suddenly turning visible,’ a condition quite akin to Michel Foucault’s ‘sudden vicinity of things.’


This paper introduces research on the relationship between Albano’s textual and curatorial work in the production of both situation and thinking. It dwells on the post-colonial mediation of the local and the international to complicate, or even exceed, the overdeterminations of the Western modern.


Patrick Flores is a Professor of Art Studies at the University of the Philippines (which he chaired from 1997 to 2003), Curator of the Vargas Museum in Manila, and Adjunct Curator at the National Art Gallery, Singapore. Among his publications are: Past Peripheral: Curation in Southeast Asia (NUS Museum Singapore, 2008); Remarkable Collection: Art, History, and the National Museum (National Art Gallery - National Museum of the Philippines, 2007); and Painting History: Revisions in Philippine Colonial Art (National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1998). As a curator he has co-organised, Under Construction: New Dimensions in Asian Art (Japan Foundation Asia Center and Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery (2000) and the Gwangju Biennale (2008). Flores was a grantee of the Asian Cultural Council in 2010, an advisor to the exhibition, The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds After 1989 at the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe in 2011, and is a member of the Guggenheim Museum’s Asian Art Council.

Between the High-Altitude View and The Detail: A Study of ‘Two Decades of American Painting’

by Nancy Adajania


Session Date: 8 February 2018, 1.15 - 3.00pm

Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy


Adajania’s paper considers the political circumstances of the Cold War and the global cultural circulations that surrounded the 1960s travelling exhibition, Two Decades of American Painting, organised by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, and supported by the Museum’s International Council.  A US soft-power initiative, the exhibition toured the world—with support from the US State Department—during a period when the Vietnam War was underway, China’s nuclear ambitions had become clear, and the US-USSR confrontation was being played out in various theatres.  Originally intended for presentation in Tokyo and New Delhi, its itinerary was expanded to include Melbourne and Sydney.


Reflecting on the reception of Two Decades… in India (1967), Adajania explores how the exhibition challenged Indian artists and art critics to revisit and critically recast their debate, including many key contested themes: cultural identity and artistic autonomy; tradition and modernity; abstraction and counter-abstractionist strategies; the global turn; the creation of a universal canon; the establishment of a national ‘style;’ and canonical medium (modelled on Clement Greenberg’s ‘American-type painting’). Dwelling on the individual figures involved in the exhibition and its Indian reception, the paper engages with personal preoccupations and motivations, and the ground of their agency, as opposed to official scripts of cultural diplomacy or curatorial policy.


Nancy Adajania is a cultural theorist and curator based in Bombay. Her book, The Thirteenth Place: Positionality as Critique in the Art of Navjot Altaf (Guild Art Gallery, 2016), goes beyond the mandate of a conventional artist monograph to map the larger histories of the Leftist and feminist movements in India. She recently edited the transdisciplinary anthology Some things that only art can do: A Lexicon of Affective Knowledge (Raza Foundation, 2017). She was Joint Artistic Director of the 9th Gwangju Biennale in 2012, and has curated many exhibitions including: No Parsi is an Island; A Curatorial Re-reading Across 150 Years (National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi, 2016); Sights and Sounds: Global Film and Video, Jewish Museum, New York (2015); and the hybrid exhibition-publication project Sacred/Scared at Latitude 28/ TAKE on Art magazine, New Delhi (2014). Adajania taught the curatorial practice course at the Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts (2013/2014) and was a juror for Video/Film/New Media fellowship cycle of the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart (2015-2017).

Revisiting Thai Reflections on American Experiences, Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art, Bangkok, 1986

by Gridthiya Gaweewong


Session Date: 8 February 2018, 1.15 - 3.00pm

Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy


Organised by renowned art historian Dr. Piriya Krairiksh at the Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art in Bangkok, Thai Reflections on American Experiences brought together the work of twenty-four artists executed before, during, and after their journeys to the United States. The exhibition, which was funded in part by the United States Information Service, sought to make a fair assessment of the impact that American experiences might have had on the development of Modern Art in Thailand. Although eight artists declined to participate, those who did included Damrong WongUpparat, Santi Isrowuthakul, Apinan Poshyananda, Kamol Phaosavasdi, and Chumpol Apisuk, using the exhibition as a platform to critically examine the hegemony of American art in the twilight of Cold War politics. In conjunction with the exhibition, a seminar was organised where issues of authenticity, appropriation and identity played out among local artists, art historians and critics. The debates continued in local media coverage, and through editorials written by various artists, provoked reaction in embodied discourses around national identity, representation and originality in 1980s.


Gridthiya Gaweewong is currently Artistic Director of the Jim Thompson Art Center in Bangkok. Her curatorial projects have addressed the issues of social transformation confronting artists from Thailand and beyond, since the Cold War.  In 1996 she founded the arts organisation, Project 304, to support contemporary artistic and cultural activities through art exhibitions and events. Gaweewong has curated exhibitions, and organised events internationally, including: Patani Semasa, MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum (2017); Unreal Asia, Oberhausen International Short Film Festival (2010); Saigon Open City, Vietnam (2007 - 2006), with Rirkrit Tiravanija; the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival (2007 - 1997), co-founded with Apichatpong Weerasethakul; Politics of Fun, at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2005); and Under Construction: New Dimensions in Asian Art (Japan Foundation Asia Center and Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery (2000).

From The Dawn of The 1st Asian Art Show to the 3rd Asian Art Show at the Fukuoka Art Museum, 1979-89

by Rina Igarashi

Session Date: 8 February 2018, 1.15 - 3.00pm

Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy


A milestone in the exhibition history of Asian art in Japan, the first Asian Art Show (AAS) was organised as the inauguration exhibition of the Fukuoka Art Museum (FAM) in 1979. Subsequent editions of the AAS were held almost every five years until the fourth show in 1994. Based on AASs accumulation of research on Asian Art, the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum opened in 1999. AASs played a pivotal role in connecting Fukuoka with Asian modern and contemporary art up to now. Initially, the American Contemporary Art Show was planned as the inauguration exhibition of FAM but was later cancelled and the new idea on AAS was created. Behind the background of realising AAS, there were two key persons who have strong interests toward Asia: then mayor of Fukuoka city, Shinto Kazuma and then committee member of founding FAM, Koike Shinji.


In her paper, Igarashi talks about how the first AAS was prepared in the 1970s, the practice and structure of the 1st - 3rd AASs, the connection between AAS and the policy of Fukuoka city, and how the practice of AASs in the 1980s demonstrates the shift of inter-Asia collaboration and the conflict of defining Asia-ness.


Rina Igarashi is a curator at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan. She has worked on and curated a number of exhibitions at the FAAM, including Bengali Kantha, Embroidered Quilt: Its past and present (2001); Collecting India: Fascination with Indian Visual Culture in Contemporary Japan (2012); and Freedom in Blossom: Gangaw Village and Experimental Art in 1980s Burma (2012). She has also been the co-curator of 3rd (2005), 4th (2009) and 5th (2014) editions of the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale. She has been involved in research in Bangladeshi contemporary art and visual cultures since the late 1990s and has recently expanded her research to Myanmar.

Group 1890, Surrounded by Infinity

by Atreyee Gupta

Session Date: 8 February 2018, 3.30 - 5.00pm

Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy


This paper focuses on the Group 1890, a short-lived artists’ collective established in 1962 by Jagdish Swaminathan, Jeram Patel, Rajesh Mehra, Ambadas Khobragade, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Himmat Shah, Nagji Patel, Reddappa Naidu, Jyoti Bhatt, Eric Bowen, and Raghav Kaneria. The group heralded its presence with just one exhibition, the resonance of which the Mexican poet Octavio Paz described as akin to being ‘surrounded by infinity.’ The use of the word infinity was not purely rhetorical—back in Mexico, Paz had already established an intimate association with non-modern philosophy, and the vibrancy of matter. In India, the artist Jagdish Swaminathan spoke of the numinous image while Jeram Patel affirmed the primal energy of material. The synergy between the Group 1890 artists and Paz, then the Mexican ambassador to India, was significant. However, even as a second exhibition was planned in Mexico, it was never realised, and the group unofficially disbanded around 1969.


Given the transitory nature of the enterprise, the Group 1890 has thus far appeared as a mere footnote in South Asia’s art historiography. This paper proposes revisiting the group, not just to unravel the intertwined histories of India and Mexico, but also to draw out a different imagination of globality from the perspective of the Global South.


Atreyee Gupta is Assistant Professor, in University of California, Berkeley’s History of Art Department, and was previously the Jane Emison Assistant Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Her area of specialism focuses on global modernisms and contemporary art, with an emphasis on South and Southeast Asia and its diaspora. Her research and teaching interests cluster around visual and intellectual histories of 20th century art, including: the intersections between the Cold War; the Non-Aligned Movement; art after 1945; new media and experimental cinema; and the question of the global more broadly. Gupta’s essays have appeared in edited volumes, exhibition catalogues, and journals including: Art Journal, Yishu, and Third Text.

Museums that Move: Itinerant Solidarity Exhibitions in the 1970s and the case of Japan's Apartheid Non, International Art Festival

by Kristine Khouri


Session Date: 8 February 2018, 3.30 - 5.00pm

Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy


The 1970s were marked by a number of exhibitions-cum-museum initiatives organised in support of political causes. Culture trains, touring exhibitions, and moving libraries were common practice around the world in mid-20th century, moving information, artworks, and objects around a country to disseminate knowledge and culture—most often by governments—to sites where people wouldn’t necessarily have access to them. In the 1970s and 1980s, these initiatives took a more explicit political turn, exhibiting and touring artworks donated in support of a political causes, creating sites of solidarity where the public engaged with art in a different frame. International collections were built and toured as precursors and in anticipation of future museums, for example, against apartheid in South Africa, in support of Allende's government in Chile, for the people of Nicaragua, and in support of the Palestinian struggle.


These alternative museum-making practices were only possible due to the hard work of individuals around the world: artists, writers, gallery owners, governments, and community organisers, among others. This paper addresses a number of case studies from Palestine, Chile and Nicaragua, with a primary focus on the Art Against/Contre Apartheid collection, and its remarkable two-year long tour in Japan from 1988-1990—the longest and most complex tour.


Kristine Khouri is an independent researcher and writer whose interests focus on the history of arts circulation and infrastructure in the Arab world. Together with Rasha Salti, she is a co-founder of the History of Arab Modernities in the Visual Arts Study Group: a research platform focused around the social history of art in the Arab world. Their current focus includes the history of the International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine that opened in Beirut in 1978 and transformed into the exhibition, Past Disquiet: Narratives and Ghosts of the International Art Exhibition for Palestine,1978 at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2015) and later the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2016). She curated The Founding Years (1969 – 1973): A Selection of Works from the Sultan Gallery Archives at the Sultan Gallery, Kuwait (2012); and co-led a Digitising Archives Workshop with Sabih Ahmed (Asia Art Archive) in Kuwait as part of Art Dubai’s Global Art Forum (2015).

Diasporic Cosmopolitanism, Making Worlds, Imagining Solidarity

by Ming Tiampo


Session Date: 8 February 2018, 3.30 - 5.00pm

Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy


Histories of the Global South have a tendency to consider alternative histories that emerge out of South-South contacts and circumvent Western hegemonies. This paper argues that some of the most potent anti-colonial encounters that produced the notion of the Global South inevitably took place in the context of the colonial metropole. Using the history of the magazine Présence Africaine as a starting point to reimagine the metropolis as a site of ‘minor transnational encounter’ (Shih and Lionnet, 2005), this paper examines the role of Rasheed Araeen and the journal Third Text in worlding Asia and creating Afro-Asian solidarities, while retheorising the place of the metropolis in creating an imagined community of the Global South.


Ming Tiampo is a Professor of Art History and the Director of the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Tiampo has published on Japanese modernism, war art in Japan, globalisation and art, multiculturalism in Canada, and the connections between Inuit and Japanese prints. Tiampo’s book Gutai: Decentering Modernism (University of Chicago Press, 2011) received an honourable mention for the Robert Motherwell Book award, and she later co-edited Art and War in Japan and its Empire: 1931-1960 (Brill Academic Press, 2013). In 2013, she was co-curator of the AICA award-winning Gutai: Splendid Playground, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Tiampo is a founding member of the Center for Transnational Cultural Analysis at Carleton University, serves on the advisory boards of the Institute for Cultural Inquiry Berlin, Tate Research Centre Asia, and on the editorial boards of the Archives of Asian Art, the Canadian Art Review (RACAR), and the Journal of Asian Diaspora Visual Culture and the Americas (ADVA).

Temporal Exchanges: East and West Pakistan Exhibition Programmes, 1961-77’

by Saira Ansari

Session Date: 8 February 2018, 3.30 - 5.00pm

Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy


From 1947 to 1971, Pakistani Modernist artist, patron and gallerist Zubeida Agha (1922-1997) ran the Rawalpindi Art Galleries:  Pakistan’s first art gallery since its founding in 1947. Agha worked closely with artists across West and East Pakistan (current day Bangladesh) curating numerous exhibitions in Pakistan and on international platforms. This paper introduces the history of the Rawalpindi Art Galleries, it’s engagement with artists from Bangladesh, and the shared artistic activities between Pakistan and Bangladesh, especially when they were one nation (1947-1971). Examining the role of the gallery through a selection of its exhibitions, printed catalogues and other collected ephemera, this paper seeks to articulate the role of the State in the art world during the early years of Pakistan—when the lines between public and private programming were still blurry—while shedding light on this often-overlooked moment of shared history.


Saira Ansari is a researcher and a writer with a focus in South Asian art history. She works in Publications and Research at the Sharjah Art Foundation and is a Contributing Editor for the South Asian literary journal Papercuts. Her curatorial projects include: The importance of staying quiet (Hong Kong, 2014). She was the recipient of the Lahore Biennale Foundation Research Fellowship (2016), granted in conjunction with Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong). Saira has contributed to various international publications including: Art Asia Pacific, The Rio Times, The State, Canvas, Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia, Khaleej Times, Folio, ArtNow Pakistan, Herald Magazine; with essays in Rupak, Lala Rukh’s commission for Documenta 14, Grey Noise (UAE, 2017), Syntax Freezone: Anthology of Essays on Language and Accent, THE STATE and Maraya Art Centre (UAE, 2015) and Sohbet: Journal of Contemporary Arts and Culture, Vol. 2 (Pakistan, 2011), amongst others.

Panel Discussions:

Imaging Internationalism

Moderated by Ming Tiampo (Department of Art History and the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)

With Nancy Adajania (Independent scholar), Patrick Flores (Art Studies Department, University of the Philippines, Manila), Gridthiya Gaweewong (Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok), and Rina Igarashi (Fukuoka Asian Art Museum)


Session Date: 8 February 2018, 1.15 - 3.00pm

Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

Displays of Internationalism - Asia and the Global South

Moderated by Patrick Flores (Art Studies Department, University of the Philippines, Manila)

With Atreyee Gupta (History of Art Department, University of California Berkeley), Ming Tiampo (Department of Art History and the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada), Kristine Khouri (Independent scholar) and Saira Ansari (Sharjah Art Foundation).


Session Date: 8 February 2018, 3.30 - 5.00pm

Venue: 3rd Floor Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

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