The National Gallery of Singapore currently has two special exhibitions devoted to conceptual art made in the region during the Seventies. Another room of the permanent collection also focuses on it. This is no surprise: there has been considerable discussion of this work and research into it. This, it is implied, is where contemporary art begins in South-East Asia.
At this moment in time the art history of the region and of the various countries in it is being written. But are assumptions being presented as self-evident truths? Tony Godfrey wants to question and even challenge some of those apparent assumptions. Can we actually identify a specifically “South-East Asian Conceptual Art”? How does conceptual art in the region relate to conceptual art elsewhere? He is thinking not just in terms of form, but more in terms of intention. How influential has Conceptual art been within the region?
To elucidate these concerns Professor Godfrey will look at art from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and The Philippines as well as further afield.
Tony Godfrey has been writing on contemporary art since 1978. His 1998 book Conceptual Art was the first to try and present Conceptual art as a global phenomenon. He moved from London to Singapore in 2009 and currently lives between Singapore and The Philippines. He is currently preparing exhibitions involving artists from South-East Asia and writing a history of contemporary art.
Image credits: KIM KU-LIM, 2016 recreation of 1970 environmental project, From Phenomenon to Trace – The Event with Fire and Lawn, courtesy by the artist.