APAF-SEA Arts Fest Closing Panel: Transnational links in Southeast Asian Performance

Sunday Nov 10, 5 pm

Centre for Creative Collaboration, C4CC, 16 Acton Street (King's Cross, London)

Asian Performing Arts Forum presents:
Closing Festival Round-Table - Transnational links in Southeast Asian Performance

Speakers include:

Prof Matthew Cohen, Royal Holloway University of London (Chair)
Prof Mark Hobart, School of Oriental and African Studies
Sinta Tantra, artist based in the UK/Bali
Annie Jael Kwan, Independent producer and curator based in the UK and Southeast Asia, Producer of SEA ArtsFest and Curator for SEA ArtsFilm
Dr Barley Norton, Goldsmiths, University of London

'Globalisation' in Southeast Asia's performing arts has been an aspirational handle for one-way cultural borrowings and participation in elite platforms of an assumed international 'West'. However, alternative views have emerged, that present Southeast Asia as a dense, internally-sustained network with its own separate transnational communities. This festival in London sees, for instance, Singapore-born actors interrogate what it means to be twice-diasporic Chinese. Artists of Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian and Filipino heritage reflect on travel, disorientation and reconnections to former imagined homelands - all far away from the geographic loci of Southeast Asia itself. Certainly, artistic flows are increasngly complex, multiple-way affairs, with parallel debates happening across borders and platforms. But what does it mean to create art that can be called Southeast Asian without compromising on different identities that make artists distinct groups and individuals today? In the words of producer Annie Jael Kwan - must Southeast Asian art only reflect geographically-specific content, or have to 'look' Southeast Asian? How have postcolonial politics influenced cultural networks that date to trade and court links of centuries ago? And yet the cultural flows remain asymmetrical, necessarily impacted by the unequal movement of capital and labour around the region and the world: an artist is paid a different fee in Burma than he or she is in Indonesia, Singapore or the U.K., even as he or she makes art to the tastes of international curators who delicately broker these very negotiations. This panel explores art-making across a range of scenarios marked by shifting cultural politics and power relations, and questions what it means to be a Southeast Asian artist.

Free Admission

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