New Perspectives on Performance Art and Practices in Southeast Asia and the West

Conference and Performance Program on June 13 and 14 at Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart

No 153/2019 from May 27, 2019

The conference and performance program to take place on June 13 and 14 at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin aim to open up new perspectives on performance art and practices in Southeast Asia and the West.  "Embodied Histories - Entangled Communities. Southeast Asian and Western Approaches to Narratives and Performance Art" will focus on storytelling, history, and the different ways that they are embodied.  The event is being put on by Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin in cooperation with the Cluster of Excellence 2020 "Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective" (Freie Universität Berlin). It is being made possible by support from the Goethe-Institute Southeast Asia. The event is open to the public and will be held in English.   Admission is free of charge, but registration is requested in advance.

The event in June 2019 and a series of exhibitions in 2020 and 2021 in Berlin, Chiang Mai, und Jakarta will deal with specific local narratives as well as the entangled political histories of the countries of Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their intricate historical relationships with Germany.

The conference and performance program "Embodied Histories - Entangled Communities. Southeast Asian and Western Approaches to Narratives and Performance Art" in the Hamburger Bahnhof seeks to open up new perspectives on narrativizations of history, storytelling, and their embodiment in performative arts and practices in Southeast Asia. At the two-day conference artists such as Arahmaiani, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Ho Rui An, and Julia Sarisetiati (ruangrupa, Gudskul) will discuss various topics with people working in the area of cultural events, both in practice and theory, and curators such as Cosmin Costinas, Patrick D. Flores, and David Teh. The combination of lecture and performance program reflects the ambition of the event to explore ways in which curatorial, institutional, and academic practices can benefit from artistic practices.

Contemporary performance art is characterized by hybridity and interdisciplinary cross-media connections and the social contexts of various (art) histories. In addition to performance practices and modes of presentation, the entangled mythologies, literary narratives, and political histories of Southeast Asia and the West also exert an influence on the embodied knowledge in the social communities concerned. Acting on this set of assumptions, the conference asks about the curatorial, scholarly, and institutional implications of these practices: How can performance art and performative artistic and social practices in cultural institutions be collected, archived, exhibited, reflected on, mediated, or transformed? What role do narrative strategies play in mediating knowledge and experience? How can performative and curatorial practices be combined? What can cultural institutions learn from narrative and performative practices related to their diverse audiences’ Can stereotypical patterns of hegemonic narratives be unlearned, and which new experiences are generated in the process’ How can these artistic practices be used to reach, transform, or even constitute diverse communities?

The conference "Embodied Histories - Entangled Communities" was conceived by Gridthiya Gaweewong (Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok, MAIIAM, Chiang Mai), Anna-Catharina Gebbers (Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin), Grace Samboh (researcher, curator, Yogyakarta), and Siuli Tan and June Yap (Singapore Art Museum) in collaboration with Kirsten Maar (Institute of Dance Studies, Freie Universität Berlin) and Annette Jael Lehmann (Institute of Theater Studies and Cluster of Excellence "Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective," Freie Universität Berlin).

The Cluster of Excellence 2020 "Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective" aims to create a new theoretical and methodological take on literature in a global perspective. Based on the insight that literature is a fundamentally performative and intermedial phenomenon, a form of social action taking place in complex networks of human and non-human actors, the Cluster studies how literature becomes global through its temporal entanglements. The Cluster sees itself as a dynamic and flexible platform combining an international fellowship program with projects involving early career researchers, established scholars, and international fellows from all career stages, working within the vibrant literary and art scene in Berlin. The Cluster took up its work on January 1, 2019. For seven years (2019-2025), it is being funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the German Excellence Strategy.

With its focus on embodied stories and entangled communities, the conference is part of an ongoing research project and a polyphonic curatorial collaboration between Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin, the Jim Thompson Art Center in Bangkok, the MAIIAM in Chiang Mai, the Galeri Nasional in Jakarta, and the Singapore Art Museum. The project was initiated in 2017 during the development of the exhibition HELLO WORLD. REVISING A COLLECTION (Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin, 2018). In 2020 and 2021, a series of exhibitions under the same title will take place in Thailand, Indonesia, and Germany.

The Goethe-Institut is a German cultural institute that promotes cultural cooperation worldwide. Focusing on joint artistic production, reception, and reflection, the Goethe-Institut initiates and organizes projects that promote the global mobility of cultural workers and strengthen intercultural networks. For several years, the Goethe-Institut in Southeast Asia has been promoting exchange between museum practitioners, museums, and curators in the region and in Germany through various programs and initiatives.

From September 30 to October 1, 2019, in a further follow-up to the project "Hello World," the  Hamburger Bahnhof will hold a conference "Global Museum: Where do we go from here?" in cooperation with the German Federal Cultural Foundation and with the kind support of the Freunde der Nationalgalerie. The participating institutions and international guests will gather to discuss findings and consequences of the funding initiative "Global Museum."

Conference and Performance Program and Registration:

  • Fiona Geuß, Press Officer, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Tel.: +49 30 39 78 34 17, Email: f.geuss [at] smb.spk-berlin (p) de  
  • Dr. Nina Diezemann, Office of News and Public Affairs, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel. +49 30 838-73190, Email: nina.diezemann [at] fu-berlin (p) de

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