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Vera Mey: Don't abandon the indirect road – thinking through art and area in Southeast Asia

Online Lecture22 June 2021, 19:00online
FIELDS: an itinerant inquiry across the Kingdom of Cambodia, December 2013, Foto: Lim SokchanlinaFIELDS: an itinerant inquiry across the Kingdom of Cambodia, December 2013, Foto: Lim Sokchanlina

What does it mean to question where art lives and where it can be found? The discipline of art history as applied onto Southeast Asia has been eager to collect, categorize and historicize through the lens of place and production, however there is nothing natural about the terms: Southeast; Asia and art, let alone their supernatural conception when put together. Early colonial explorations fuelled the curiosity for art as emblematic of the culture of an area which has often been described as "united yet diverse". However, when place is imposed on art, mainly through geography, then art is the lens in which we understand place. This lecture will discuss complications of translation and transliteration when working with, for and against the idea of culture as grounded in location through experiences of researching and curating in and around Southeast Asian art and artists.

Vera Mey is a PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her research looks at ideas of critical regionalism of Southeast Asian art during the Cold War eras in Cambodia, Indonesia and Singapore, paying particular attention to intersections of racial plurality within regionalism. Before this, she spent several years working as a contemporary art curator at ST PAUL St Gallery, AUT University, both in Auckland, and the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, among others. More recent independent work includes co-curating SUNSHOWER: Contemporary art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now (2017) at the Mori Art Museum and National Art Centre Tokyo, the largest survey of Southeast Asian artists to date. She is a co-founder of the peer-reviewed journal SOUTHEAST OF NOW: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia (National University of Singapore Press).


The lecture will be held in English language.