Mekong Cultural Hub

CURATED CONFERENCE “Thoughts on Art in Society”: Sharing from participants

The Meeting Point session “Thoughts on Art in Society” was developed from a curated conference, convened by curator Janet Pillai on the topic ‘Perspectives on socially-engaged arts in Asia’. The session is devised by the four conference participants, from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand who have been meeting and exchanging ideas, with facilitation from Janet, over a six month period. They want to continue their exploration through the dialogue they will host at Meeting Point. In this article, members share key take-aways from the sessions and what they have found exciting and challenging during the process.

Ren Xin Lee came from background of dance and choreography. She works with bodies, performance and relating between bodies, embodiment, place, and practice in daily spaces in the urban setting where she lives.

“There are as many ways to practice “socially-engaged arts” as there are places and contexts (community, politics, economic…).

“Socially-engaged arts” may not be the best term to express what we are doing and imagining forward.

Connecting beyond the arts is valuable because tackling a situation that is sited in the living is working with a situation of multitudes. Hence, the synergy of resources from art and non-art sectors help to support a richer and more sustainable process.

Excited: to learn how practitioners in other places locate and make sense of their practice in each intersected contexts.

Challenged: to elaborate my thoughts clearly and concisely on the spot–feel more pressure in a dry Zoom setting than in shared physical presence, I imagine.”

Bunga Pratiwi Siagian Curator at ARKIPEL Film Festival for the 2013-2016 editions. Programmer of Jatiwangi Sinematek. Currently interested in the screening practices that intersects artistic practice and moving image. Managing the Land Affair Study Agency since 2017.

“The curator has a big role in maintaining such diversity of our practices. That’s important to enrich our experience as practitioners. She also helps me to understand that structure/state policy or situation from each country really affects the form/method/practice of each of us.

The experience from others helps me to locate my practice within SEA context.

Excitement: the preparation for the meeting point pushes me to experiment and think with different kinds of public engagement (online format), which I never experienced before.”

Ngiam Su-Lin is a creative producer and intermediary, especially in the areas of arts and community development. She has produced numerous community-engaged programmes and festivals in collaboration with the public, people and private sectors. She plays a significant intermediary and capacity-building role through ArtsWok Collaborative which she co-founded to champion interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches towards civic participation and social change work.

“My most valuable lessons you’ve learnt by joining this process are:

– The range of questions that have emerged from the sessions

– The importance of the artist in co-creating rituals and practice with community; for community identity/actualisation/development

SEA as recontextualising, reframing, rehumanising work: creating the conditions and practice

What challenges/excites me the most when participating in this discussion is the diversity in contexts and practice.

What challenges me is not being able to have conversations face-to-face can be challenging; sustaining the energies and being fully present over Zoom.”

Osathapiratana Piengdao is studying bachelors of art in Global Study and Social Entrepreneurship. She is working as coordinator and stage director for socially engaged art festival in Bangkok, Thailand old town area. Her aim is to sustain the legacy of old town lifestyle and culture.

“The network expands our point of view. It shows the difference and similarities in what we are doing and we could adapt to better things. So networking is a big part for socially engaged art.

The preparation for the meeting point session also introduces me to new tools to deliver our content to the public, tools that I’ve never used before.

Zoom meeting is the most challenging thing. It requires so much energy and concentration while discussing.

We have a chance to answer questions that we’ve never been asked before. It helps me find some new discoveries of what I currently do.”

This session will be moderated by Sunitha Janamohanan. an arts manager, curator, producer, venue manager and heritage manager. Sunitha has an MA in Arts Administration from Columbia University, New York, and is now teaching in the Programme in Arts and Cultural Management at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. Her research interests include community or socially engaged arts practice, and local arts management models in developing Southeast Asia.

Fiona is an independent trans-disciplinary art writer, researcher, and manager based in Taipei, Taiwan. She has years of work experiences in visual art press, as well as independent and public sectors. Her current works span from artistic and cultural research and writings, production and managements, to international cultural exchanges, with special interests in collective and collaborative artistic practices, socially-engaged arts, and aesthetics and politics in Asia Pacific region. She joined the Curated conference: Thoughts on Art in Society as a Creative Interpreter.

To join the curated conferences and share your thoughts on art in society with us, – please register HERE