How does one make sense of the art of our time? The rise of contemporary art from Asia has been characterized by an unbalanced proportion between the production of spectacles and events versus reflection and critical discourse. While there is already a substantial and diverse body of writing on contemporary art from the region, this body of work remains largely uncollated, insufficiently analysed and poorly disseminated. So how would one anthologise this writing? Such a project raises all sorts of questions about the selection and canonisation of artists and artwriters. For instance, what exactly are the relations between contemporaries? How can one compare an artwork or text from Hong Kong with those from Thailand? The writing from the region has tended to be by locals commenting on their respective "backyards".
In his talk, Coincidence & Relation, Lee Weng Choy will try and complicate the matter further. There are, of course, many registers of discourses on art; Lee will argue for a kind of art criticism which aims to speak to art as personally and honestly as possible. Lee will play with the idea that the convictions one makes about an artwork are not entirely unlike the declarations one makes to a loved one. Both insist on specificity -- there is no one else but this person; this artwork is significant -- and yet this insistence is possible perhaps only in the face of coincidence: "I happen to live here now".
Lee Weng Choy is an art critic and artistic co-director of The Substation arts centre in Singapore. Lee is on the Academic Advisory Board of the Asia Art Archive, and has written widely on contemporary art and Singapore; some of his essays include: 'Art's Elections and the Distributions of Cultural Capital' (Broadsheet, CACSA, 2005), 'Authenticity, Reflexivity & Spectacle; or, the Rise of New Asia is not the End of the World' ( Theory in Contemporary Art since 1985, Blackwell Publishing, 2005), and 'Just What Is it that Makes the Term Global-Local So Widely Cited, Yet So Annoying?' (Over Here: International Perspectives on Art and Culture, New Museum & MIT Press, 2004).