Contemporary art from the region is doing quite well: from Brisbane to Berlin, artists from Southeast Asia get around. This year, Singapore has joined the biennale club with 'Belief', which opened just last month.

However, what has not kept pace with the exhibition of contemporary art from Southeast Asia is the art criticism about it. Although it's not as if there isn't already a substantial body of art writing from the region; rather, this body of writing remains largely uncollated, insufficiently analysed and poorly distributed. For instance, there is still no anthology of art writing from the region.

Comparative Contemporaries is a website anthology project. The project begins with five editors who have selected what they believe are ten key texts of art writing from Southeast Asia. These selections will then be published on the Asia Art Archive website. The aim is to encourage a process of debating and developing an anthology, to establish a regional community engaged in discussion, rather than establish a canon of authors. Over time, new editors, and new "proto-anthologies" will be added to the website. From 10 to 13 October, the Comparative Contemporaries Conference brings together over 40 writers, curators, artists from the region to discuss the website anthology project (the website itself will be launched in May 2007). The editors will preview their selections; the planning of the website will be discussed, as will topics in theory, history and translation. There will also be a workshop on the region's engagement with the documenta 12 magazine project. The conference is open to the public and admission is free. 

Contact The Substation for more information: call 6337 7535, or email Cyril Wong 
Do invite your friends and colleagues to come along.

Tuesday 10 October 
10am to 12.30pm  Opening remarks & the website anthology editors discuss their selections 
                           (Sue Acret, Patrick Flores, Ly Daravuth, Keiko Sei, & Lee Weng Choy) 
12.30 to 1.30pm    Lunch 
1.30 to 3.30pm     3 separate Workshops 

These 3 Workshops happen concurrently, and are for discussing and preparing for the Panel Sessions that follow on Day 2. We want the workshop discussions to be intimate, therefore we aim to keep the numbers to within 20 persons per workshop, and we'll have a sign-up sheet for workshop participation. 
Workshop 1: Developing the Comparative Contempories website 
Workshop 2: Translation 
Workshop 3: Theory & History 

Wednesday 11 October 
10am to 11.30am     Panel 1: the Website 
11.30am to 12.30pm Panel 2: Translation 
12.30 to 1.30pm       Lunch 
1.30 to 2.30pm         Panel 3: Theory & History 
2.30 to 3.30pm         Discussion 

Thursday 12 October 
10am to 1.30pm short presentations by the following speakers:

John Batten, gallery owner, curator, writer, Hong Kong;

Thomas Berghuis, art historian, on contemporary art in China;

Gary Carsley, artist, curator, writer, on "Drag / Mash";

Kevin Chua, art historian, "A memory of minimalism";

Norman Ford, artist, curator, writer, Hong Kong;

"The Great Art & Craft Swindle", as performed by Khairuddin Hori;

Jay Koh, artist, curator, writer, the "Dictionary/ Thesauraus/ Process" project, on participative art practices;

Janine Sager, researcher, on audience reception of biennales.

(afternoon is free time) 

Friday 13 October 
10am to 1.30pm documenta 12 magazine 
Workshop: A key part of the major exhibition, documenta 12, is a "journal of journals" project which brings together about 70 print and online periodicals from all over the world. These magazines are invited to discuss the main themes and issues of documenta 12, and contributions will be compiled and published in a series of publications. 
For more info about the project, visit: 
(afternoon is free time)

The conference is co-organised by The Substation and the Singapore Section of the International Art Critics Association. Funding is provided by the National Arts Council. The website project is a collaboration between The Substation and the Asia Art Archive.

Relevant content

Comparative Contemporaries - A Web Anthologies Project

Comparative Contemporaries - A Web Anthologies Project

May 2007