Arts and Culture
This panel will address the issues around experimentation and experimental in Southeast Asian arts between the 1950s and early 1990s. This is an interdisciplinary panel addressing developments in visual, performance and sound art, and which underscore the impossibility of direct linguistic and conceptual reciprocity. Discursively and historically, the concepts and labels of experimentation and experimental have been deployed and employed to accommodate works and practices combining techniques, temporalities and cultural registers unfitting for established categories of artistic and cultural practices. Such developments also have been commonly accepted as precursors of contemporary art in Southeast Asia. This panel argues that experimentation and experimental unsettle such mainstream understandings to provide a more nuanced and complicated narrative.
Historically, it has been in dialogue, both intimate and tense, with Euro-American-centric traditions and methodologies of innovation. Several artists from Southeast Asia participated in the experimental (new) art, film and music scenes in Europe, for example in the Netherlands, West Germany, the United Kingdom, and in North America. Their prolonged stays not only meant their further integration and contribution to experimental art, music, theatre, poetry, film, etc. in Europe and North America, but also a renewed questioning of one’s identity in and across the different cultural and political contexts of the time.
The panel also considers experimental/experimentation in Southeast Asia as a creative site and/or platform in which artists produced new forms of art in part as a response to national calls for self-identity, and which disturb assumptions that experimental art and experimentation typically took place outside of institutional purview.
Some of the questions that the panel will address, but not limited to, are:
- What makes experimental art/s experimental in Southeast Asia?
- In what ways does experimental as a term fill a void in the discourse, the discomfort between discourses and traditions?
- What is experimental without an avant-garde movement in the cultural field?
- Are experimentation/experimental and artistic freedom connected?
- Is experimentation/experimental art gendered, in and across contexts in Southeast Asia?
- What are the political implications and social ramifications?