Dr. Tania Willard, Vanessa Kwan, Tamsen Hopkinson, T’uy’t’tanat- Cease Wyss , Seelan Palay, Elisapeta Heta, Keg de Souza, Zoe Butt, Gridthiya Gaweewong , Grace Samboh, Ringo Bunoan, Lyna Kourn, Dr Lana Lopesi , Anthony Yung, Vanessa Mei Crofskey, Andy Butler, Celia Ho, Susan Gibb , Dr Marnie Badham, Dr Tammy Wong Hulbert and Sebastian Henry-Jones
“The Region: Dialogues on the power and precarity of artist self-organisation in the Asia-Pacific”
The Region: dialogues on the power and precarity of artist self-organisation in the Asia-Pacific is an international symposium, co-created by West Space (Naarm / Melbourne), Para Site (Hong Kong), Enjoy Contemporary Art Space (Te Whanganui-a-Tara / Wellington) and Western Front (Vancouver), and co-facilitated by CAST research group, School of Art, RMIT University (Naarm / Melbourne).
Co-created and presented by four of the longest-standing arts organisations in the Asia-Pacific region, The Region is a digital symposium that examines pressing questions of power and precarity, with a focus on artist self- organisation. The symposium will consider the objectives, freedoms and responsibilities of small institutions as they exist across contemporary contexts of urban gentrification and Western hegemony, whose shared futures are informed by local and specific histories, and which are expressed today through new forms of curating and collectivity.
In 2001 West Space, with 17 international peer organisations, convened Space Traffic, a global conference that aimed to “bring together alternative art spaces from around the world to discuss, tackle, and explore issues surrounding non-mainstream art and culture with a focus on the Asia-Pacific”. On the 20th anniversary of the original symposium, West Space, in partnership with two of the original participants, Western Front and Para Site , and a new partner, Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, will revisit this agenda from our current context.
Enjoy is a leading non-profit arts organisation based in Aotearoa New Zealand, dedicated to developing contemporary art practice, and the audience and discussions around contemporary art. We achieve this through our exhibition programme, events, publishing, artist residencies and other activities.
Established in 2000, Enjoy is located in central Pōneke Wellington, with a rich history as an artist-run space.
Enjoy creates opportunities for learning and exchange around contemporary art in Aotearoa, and to advocate for its role in our society. Our artistic programme prioritises artists, writers and curators who are early-career or interested in growing experimental practices in a supportive and challenging environment.
Governed by a board of trustees, our organisation strives to honor Te Tiriti o Waitangi through its strategic leadership and approach to arts participation. We deliver our Mission and Vision with the investment of our primary funders Creative New Zealand Arts Council Toi Aotearoa, with additional support from Wellington City Council, community funding and fundraising initiatives.
Para Site is Hong Kong’s leading contemporary art centre and one of the oldest and most active independent art institutions in Asia. It produces exhibitions, publications, and discursive and educational projects aimed at forging a critical understanding of local and international phenomena in art and society. Founded in early 1996 as an artist-run space, Para Site was Hong Kong’s first exhibition-making institution of contemporary art and a crucial self-organised structure within the city’s civil society. Throughout the years, Para Site has grown into a contemporary art centre, engaged in a wide array of activities and collaborations with other art institutions, museums, and academic structures in both Hong Kong and the international landscape. In early 2015, Para Site moved to greatly increased premises in Quarry Bay, Hong Kong. Para Site celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2021.
Western Front is a non-profit artist-run centre located in Vancouver, Canada on the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ílwətaʔɬ(Tsleil-Waututh), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) nations. We support a multidisciplinary program that provides opportunities to artists working across music, media art, visual art, performance, and literature to create and present work. Through commissions, exhibitions, performances, concerts, publishing, residencies, and workshops, Western Front promotes public exchange at a local, national, and international level. We also preserve and provide access to an ever-growing audio-visual archive that documents the organization’s history of artistic programming and production.
CAST Contemporary Art and Social Transformation is a research group based in the School of Art at RMIT University. CAST produces art research that critically engages with environmental, social and public spheres with a particular interest in how artistic practices intersect with issues of equity, access and democracy. CAST is a hub for critical thinking, collaboration and the exchange of ideas, knowledge dissemination, practice-led artistic research and socially-engaged art practice. CAST engages on local and international levels by collaborating with practitioners, communities, industry, and government partners
West Space works locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally, across artforms and sites, to expand the possibilities of exhibition-making. Over our three-decade history, we have evolved as a distinct organisation that combines an artist-centric ethos with the supportive infrastructure of a contemporary art institution.
The Region was made possible with support from the City of Melbourne, and RMIT University, Australia
Dr. Tania Willard, Secwépemc Nation, works within the shifting ideas of contemporary and traditional as it relates to cultural arts and production. Willard’s artistic projects routinely work with bodies of knowledge that are linked to her interest in intersections between Aboriginal and other cultures. As Assistant Professor in Creative Studies at UBCO (Kelowna BC) in Syilx territories, her research focuses on Secwépemc aesthetics/language/land and interrelated art practices.
Vanessa Kwan is an artist and curator with a focus on collaborative, site-specific and cross-disciplinary practices. They are Program Director at grunt gallery on unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories (Vancouver, Canada) and are also curator/ producer at Other Sights for Artists’ Projects, an organization that produces artworks for the public realm. They regularly write and publish on art and culture, and have recently led projects at venues across the Pacific Rim (Vancouver, Seoul and Sydney) exploring artist-led creative exchange.
Tamsen Hopkinson (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Pahauwera, Irish Pākehā)is a Māori artist, curator, producer and teacher from Aotearoa, based on Wurundjeri country. Her practice is an expression of Indigenous Sovereignty and considers ideas around language, access, materiality and sound. Tamsen has extensive experience within the contemporary arts sector, and over the last ten years has worked across key organisations including West Space, Monash University of Art Design and Architecture (MADA), TCB Art Inc. and UN Projects. She currently works as a Senior Producer at Footscray Community Arts Centre and The Substation.
T’uy’t’tanat- Cease Wyss is an interdisciplinary artist who works with digital media, writing, performance as her multi-disciplinary arts practice. She is a community engaged and public artist and ethnobotanist. Her works range over 30 years and have always focussed on sustainability, permaculture techniques, Coast Salish Cultural elements and have included themes of ethnobotany, indigenous language revival, Salish weaving and digital media technology. Recent projects include utilizing Futurisms technologies, using a cultural lens to raise awareness about sustainability and protecting species at risk.
Seelan Palay (b. 1984) is a visual artist from Singapore whose practice focuses on the concerns and complex conditions found in our present-day, globalized society. Having studied Fine Art at Lasalle College of the Arts, he works with mixed media, installation, performance, film and sound. In 2018, he founded the independentart space, Coda Culture.
Elisapeta Heta is an artist, writer, and Associate Principal and Kaihautū Waihanga at architecture firm Jasmax, living in Tāmaki Makaurau. In 2016 Heta, along with three others, founded the roopū Waka Māia within Jasmax, to respond to the growing demand and opportunities to support and enhance kaupapa Māori thinking and outcomes in projects, with clients and Iwi across Aotearoa and internationally.
Keg de Souza is an artist of Goan ancestry who lives and works in Sydney on unceded Gadigal land and uses mediums such as; temporary architecture, food, mapping and dialogical projects to explore the politics of space. This investigation of social and spatial environments is influenced by formal training in architecture and experiences of radical spaces through squatting and organising as well as personal experiences of colonisation - from her own ancestral lands being colonised to living as a settler on other people’s unceded lands. Keg often creates site and situation specific projects with people - using temporary architectures that frame pedagogical platforms to centre voices that are often marginalised - for learning about
Zoe Butt is a curator and writer who lives in Vietnam. Her practice centres on building critically thinking and historically conscious artistic communities, fostering dialogue among cultures of the globalising souths. She is currently the artistic director of the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, and formerly served in directorial and curatorial roles at Sàn Art (Ho Chi Minh City), Long March Project (Beijing), and Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (Brisbane). Her notable curatorial endeavours
include ‘Pollination’ at the Factory Contemporary Art centre (2018–); Sharjah Biennial 14, (2019); ‘Embedded South(s)’ (2016); ‘Conscious Realities’ (2013–2016); and ‘Sàn Art Laboratory’ (2012–2015) at Sàn Art. Zoe is an International Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; a member of the Asia Society’s Asia 21 initiative; a member of the Asian Art Council for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and in 2015 was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Gridthiya Gaweewong is the artistic director of the Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok. She co-founded a Bangkok based independent art organisation, Project 304 in 1996. She has co-curated with regional curators on several occasions.
Grace Samboh is a curator who lives and works in Yogyakarta, Jatiwangi,
Jakarta, and Medan. She jigs within the existing elements of the arts scene around her, as she considers the claim that Indonesia is lacking art infrastructure, especially the state-owned or state-run, as something outdated. She founded Hyphen in 2011 to encourage Indonesian arts and artistic research projects and publications.
Ringo Bunoan is an artist and curator based in Manila, Philippines. She received her BFA in Art History from the University of the Philippines in 1997, and taught briefly at the UP College of Fine Arts. She is the founder of the alternative art space Big Sky Mind (1999-2005), King Kong Art Projects Unlimited, a non-profit organization which supports projects on pioneering Filipino conceptual artist Roberto Chabet (2010-present), and artbooks.ph, an independent bookstore focusing on Philippine art, history and culture (2014-present). From 2007 to 2013, she also worked as the researcher for the Philippines at Asia Art Archive, where she initiated special archival projects on Roberto Chabet and several artist-run spaces in Manila.
Lyna Kourn is a Public Program Coordinator of Sa Sa Art Projects, a not-for profit artist-run space dedicated for experimental art practices. Lyna previously worked as a Social Worker for Empowering Youth in Cambodia, which runs community education and social support programs at the White Building. She is a co founding member of White Building Collective, a group of young artists who has been producing video and photographic works from the White Building neighborhood.
Dr Lana Lopesi is an author, art critic, editor and researcher. Lana is the author of False Divides and Bloody Woman. Currently Lana is Editor-in-Chief for the Creative New Zealand Pacific Art Legacy Project, a digital-first Pacific art history told from the perspective of the artists. Lana is currently a co-editor on a volume about issues of Race in Aotearoa to be published by Bridget Williams Books. Previously Lana was at The Pantograph Punch as the Editor-in-Chief (2017–2019).
Anthony Yung is Senior Researcher at Asia Art Archive. His research focuses on the history of contemporary art in Chinese-speaking regions. His curatorial projects include Don’t Kill Me, I’m In Love! – A Tribute to Huang Xiaopeng (2021, Times Museum, Guangzhou), Learning What Can’t Be Taught (2020, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong), and A Hundred Years of Shame: Songs of Resistance and Scenarios for Chinese Nations (2015, Para Site Art Space, Hong Kong). Yung is also a co-founder of Observation Society, an independent art space in Guangzhou.
Vanessa Mei Crofskey is an artist, arts worker and writer based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa (New Zealand). She is interested in supporting the art practices of queer and Asian migrants within Aotearoa, and trauma-informed approaches to entrenching understandings of care and accessibility across creative disciplines. Since graduating from Auckland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 2017, Vanessa has worn several different hats, notably as the Producer in Residence at Basement Theatre, as a volunteer facilitator at Window Gallery, and as a Communications Manager and staff writer for arts-and-culture journal The Pantograph Punch. She joined the team at Enjoy Contemporary Art Space as Director in late 2020. Meaningful collaboration is a central interest of her, and she is a founding member of arts collective Wellbeing Analysis Techniques Limited (WATL), with fellow artist Kimmi Rindel. Vanessa also has a collection of poetry out with Auckland University Press (AUP New Poets Six).
Andy Butler is an artist, writer and curator. Andy's practice focuses on the ways societal structures of power shape cultural production. As a curator, he tackles questions of how predominantly white cultural institutions engage with the practices of those who have historically been underrepresented in public cultural discourse, and the slippages and contradictions we find ourselves in when those who hold power talk about social transformation and equity.
Celia Ho is a curator at Para Site, where she has curated group exhibition ‘Curtain’ (2021 with Cosmin Costinas, Larys Frogier, Anqi Li, Billy Tang and Xu Tian Tian), solo exhibitions ‘Luke Ching: Glitch in the Matrix’ (2020) and ‘Vvzela Kook: Confidential Records: Overwrite’ (2020). Previously as Project Manager/Assistant Curator at Para Site, Celia has worked on exhibitions including ‘Garden of Six Seasons’ (2020), ‘Café do Brasil’ (2019), ‘An Opera for Animals’ (2019), and ‘A beast, a god, and a line’ (2018) as well as exhibitions travelling to Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai, TS1 and Myanm/ art in Yangon, and the Dakar Biennale. Celia is interested in exploring the relationship between artists, institutions, and the community. She focuses on alternative types of artistic exchange to enable artists to be experimental, radical, inclusive, and imaginative.
Susan Gibb is Executive Director of Western Front. She came to Western Front in 2019, from the position of Curator at If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution in Amsterdam, where she had worked since 2013. At If I Can’t Dance she worked in close collaboration with artists to develop and produce new work commissions across performance, moving image, and publishing, and to present these works in partnership with arts organizations internationally. Previously, she worked as Curator, Visual Arts at the multidisciplinary arts centres Carriageworks and Campbelltown Arts Centre, in Sydney, to foster collaborative exchanges between artists and the diverse communities of urban Sydney. She also ran the independent curatorial initiative Society from a shop front home in Sydney from 2011-12. She has taught curating and performance at the Dutch Art Institute and the School for New Dance Development.
Dr Marnie Badham is an artist-research who’s work sits at the intersection of socially engaged art practice, community-based methodologies and the politics of cultural measurement, with a twenty-five-year history of art and social justice practice Australia and Canada. Marnie is Senior Research Fellow at the School of Art at RMIT University in Naarm/ Melbourne.
Sebastian Henry-Jones is a curator and writer led by an interest in DIY thinking. He looks to embody these ideals in a practice that centres the needs, ideas and requirements of those that he works with, and so his practice is informed by striving for a personal ethics with sincerity, generosity, honest communication and learning at its core.