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‘Stories Across Rising Lands’ explores diversity in SE Asia

Stevie Emilia
Stevie Emilia

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, January 29, 2021  /  11:12 am
‘Stories Across Rising Lands’ explores diversity in SE Asia

Visualizing history: 'Hikayat Wanatentrem' (Wanatentrem Saga; 2018) was created by Indonesian artist Maharani Mancanagara, whose works – mostly drawings, mixed media and installations – explore Indonesian history from ancient times to the contemporary era. (Courtesy of Maharani Mancanagara/Museum MACAN)

Diversity in Southeast Asia moves into the spotlight in a new exhibition at Jakarta’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN).

“Stories Across Rising Lands”, which opens across virtual platforms from Jan. 23 to May 23, is aimed at opening a dialogue about differences in Southeast Asia.

 “'Stories across Rising Lands' is an ambitious project that brings together some of the most exciting artists working in Southeast Asia,” said Museum MACAN’s director Aaron Seeto.

Recently, he added, there had been a lot of discussion about the importance of Southeast Asia in the development of global perspectives on contemporary art.

“We hope this exhibition, together with its public online talks and virtual programming, will contribute to broader understanding and knowledge about the region we live in.”

The exhibition is cocurated by Museum MACAN’s curator, Asep Topan, and Jakarta-based Korean curator Jeong-ok Jeon.

“Though coming from different locations across Southeast Asia, this group of artists can be seen to share similar approaches to artistic research and a desire to make visible the small narratives of the everyday,” they said in a joint statement.

“This exhibition is based on our research on Southeast Asia; it tries to reflect the extraordinary diversity and specificity that goes to make up the Southeast Asian experience. It is in the small, and perhaps overlooked, that we can better understand our shared human connections and the complexity of the historical and political narratives of the region.”

Kawita Vatanajyankur’s 'Knit' (HD video, 2018)Kawita Vatanajyankur’s 'Knit' (HD video, 2018) (Courtesy of Kawita Vatanajyankur/Museum MACAN)

The exhibition features eight artists – Cian Dayrit (from the Philippines), Ho Rui An (Singapore), Kawita Vatanajyankur (Thailand), Maharani Mancanagara and Saleh Husein (Indonesia), Lim Kok Yoong (Malaysia), Souliya Phoumivong (Laos), Nge Lay (Myanmar) – and an artistic collaboration between Tan Vatey and Sinta Wibowo (Cambodia/Belgium).

Born in and around the 1980s, these artists are connected by their generational experience of media technology; the impact of shifting economic and political discussions within their home territories, and approaches to different aesthetic formats that reflect the subtle movement between local, regional and global contexts.

The show has been commissioned by KONNECT ASEAN and supported by the ASEAN- Korea Cooperation Fund and is part of the museum’s series of virtual public programs and digital activations, which runs from January to April.

To highlight diverse voices in Southeast Asia, the museum will also host a monthly panel discussion between January and March, which will include the exhibiting artists and influential curators, art institution leaders and art academics.

Maharani Mancanagara’s Babad Hikayat Wanatentrem #5' (the Chronicle of Wanatentrem Saga #5; 2018)Maharani Mancanagara’s Babad Hikayat Wanatentrem #5' (the Chronicle of Wanatentrem Saga #5; 2018) (Courtesy of Maharani Mancanagara/Museum MACAN)

The speakers include Joselina Cruz, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Philippines; Alia Swastika, director of Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation, Indonesia; and Russell Storer, director of Curatorial & Collections, National Gallery Singapore.

The digital activations for this exhibition include a 360-degrees exhibition tour guided by the curators and accessible via which will be activated on Feb. 25.

A microsite that will allow further visual analysis and research on Cian Dayrit’s artwork, Ain’t No Other Way Outta This Shitshow (2020); and an Instagram filter based on the artwork by Saleh Husein – Arabien Controlled Territory (2018/2021).

The physical exhibition will be opened for visitation when the museum reopens.

“This project will provide meaningful insights from Southeast Asian artists and their communities, showcasing the richness of cultures across ASEAN nations,” said Benjamin Milton Hampe, project director of KONNECT ASEAN at ASEAN Foundation.

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