The second programme on the occasion of Crafting Communities, the current exhibition at Asia Art Archive on the Thailand-based Womanifesto initiative, brings together artists Varsha Nair and Phaptawan Suwannakudt with scholar Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez for a conversation on the strategies and evolutions in contemporary feminist thinking and practices.
The discussion will consider various moments in the last few decades: the 1990s, when women artists and curators pushed for visibility and representation, accelerated by the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) and as exemplified by the founding of Womanifesto; the early 2000s, when strategies broadened to encompass alternative practices centred around questions of community building and inclusion, parallel to the emergence of social practice; and the greater emphasis on intersectionality in the last few years.
The conversation also marks the launch of the Womanifesto Archive by situating the history of the women-led initiative within the broader context of shifts and transitions within feminism.
The Womanifesto Archive project and the accompanying exhibition continue lines of inquiry related to pedagogy that AAA is pursuing this coming year in its programmes, exhibitions, and collections.
Eileen Legaspi Ramirez is a faculty member of the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Department of Art Studies. Her scholarship and writings have been published in Southeast Asia Spaces of the Curatorial (2017), New Histories of Southeast Asian Art, 1945-1990 (2018), and Southeast of Now, of which she is an editorial board member. She is also an advisory board member of Asia Art Archive, and steering committee member of Another Roadmap School. She is the Associate Editor of the Visual Arts volume of the revised Cultural Center of the Philippines Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, and has served as President of the non-profit arts organisation Pananaw ng Sining Bayan.
Phaptawan Suwannakudt is an artist who trained in the Thai mural tradition with her father, esteemed painter Paiboon Suwannakudt. She studied at Silpakorn University and obtained an MFA from the University of Sydney. She has been practising since the 1980s, and aside from a number of residencies, has also participated in various exhibitions, including Tradisexion, Concrete House, 1995; Women Imaging Women: Home, Body, Memory, Cultural Centre of the Philippines, Manila, 1998; El Poder de Narrar, Espai d’art Contemporani de Castelló, Valencia, 2000; the 18th Biennale of Sydney 2012; and the inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. Since 1996, she has lived and worked in Sydney.
Varsha Nair is a Uganda-born artist whose work encompasses various approaches and genres. From 1995 until 2019, she was based in Bangkok, where she co-founded Womanifesto. Nair has exhibited at many exhibitions and venues, among them Text and Subtext: Contemporary Art and Asian Women, LaSalle-SIA College of the Arts, 2000; Tate Modern, 2006; Still Moving Image, Devi Art Foundation, 2008; and KHOJ Live 08, 2008. Her writings have been published in such journals as n.paradoxa, ArtAsiaPacific, and Ctrl+P Journal of Contemporary Art. She currently resides in Baroda, India, where she graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts.
This event is made possible through support from the Women in Art History Fund: Jonathan Cheung, Geoffrey Chuang, Luke Fehon, Shirazeh Houshiary / Lisson Gallery, Margie Lau, Dee Poon, and Claudine Ying.