Mekong Cultural Hub

“Letters to COVID” – sharing from participants of the curated conference with Anmol Vellani

In the Wake of COVID-19: Altered Contexts and Prospects for the Arts in Asia” is the topic of the curated conference convened by curator Anmol Vellani and involving four participants from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan. Before joining us for the session at the Meeting Point, we would like to invite you to get to know the members of the group. Keep reading to learn more about each person’s expectations before they started this conferencing process, and what the experience has been like for them so far. Look at the images for a glimpse of what they will be sharing during the program on May 21st and 22nd!

Jeffrey Tan Singapore based theatre director, drama educator and creative producer. Trained in Australia (BA drama) and the UK (MA Drama and Theatre Education), He keens to collaborate with artists of any disciplines or communities who are keen to engage with the arts to share lived experiences.

“When I applied [to take part in the conference on] this topic, I was curious about the experiences of the other Asian participants and how the COVID19 pandemic has affected the context and prospects of our work.

The monthly conversations have been deep, insightful and reflective not just on coping with the COVID situation, but also on how we are adapting to the strange situation in our individual art practice.

I cherish the frank and sometimes confronting questions to reflect and articulate how i feel or what i am trying to say. I gained new perspectives and insights from the responses or clarification from others. By listening to others, I learnt something about myself and how I am doing what I am doing. I gain new inspirations on how I might work with others online.

Preparing for the final sharing to be honest, has been a little stressful! But I love the challenge of using our creativity to share what we experienced and the support the team has given me to help crystalize what is important for my sharing.”

Namumol Thammariksa (Kop)’s focus has been on using theatre and creative movement as a tool for social activism. She co-founded the “International WOW Company” with Josh Fox in 1997, which emphasized intercultural exchange through dance and theatre. She has also played different roles in many collaborative dance/theatre projects such as the Asia Pacific Performance Exchange (APPEX) at UCLA, Noda Hideki’s AKAONI, the Setagaya Public Theatre’s Hotel Grand Asia, and the Necessary Stage’s “Mobile”. She was an artistic director and co-ordinator for several arts events such as World Artist for Tibet, Arts Against War, Mekong Project, Shadow Puppet Exchange, Kitakanay Music Exchange. Kop teaches autobiographical writing and performance workshop. She is also and an aikido instructor.

“The pandemic affected all of us, wherever we are. We cannot escape, therefore, we have to face it together. I wanted to learn how artists in other places deal and adapt themselves with this issue. Which way and how we can move forward, both our lives and our works.

Our discussions have been very enlightening in many aspects. It opened up many doors for me to view the situations. I enjoyed it very much. Also, I could imagine some hope toward the future.”

Arief Hamizan is a theatre director, actor, and writer who has performed and presented work across Malaysia and Singapore. He also works in arts advocacy as an Executive Committee member of ReformARTsi. In his day to day life, Arief is a legal researcher for the anti-corruption organisation, C4 Center.

“I was particularly interested in how I could join a diverse group of artists who would come together to reflect and investigate our present, in light of history defining events. I hoped to engage in perspectives and worlds beyond my own that could expand my own thinking and provide a base for a more international outlook, especially in a time of withdrawal and isolation.

It has been a joy to regularly speak and share with the group, to discover similarities and differences in these times, and to be active and present in the attempt to make sense of where we are, and how we might imagine the future.”

Regina Yuching Lin is an independent research-based translator, writer and curator based in Taipei. Her projects usually involve and introduce issues of politics, culture, history and society of South and Southeast Asia to Chinese audiences, through books and exhibitions.

As the COVID situation in Taiwan is very different from other countries, I looked to get more sharings of first-hand experiences from arts and cultural practitioners of other countries about how this unprecedented event challenged and changed the field. Or not.

I feel privileged to have this opportunity to go through the monthly process of deep probings as well as honest sharing from my colleagues. The process is truly the key for us to be able to reflect day-to-day, month-to-month changes that COVID has brought to our life and practices. The general situation may seem stagnant and go nowhere, if not worse. However, what I found surprisingly is that there’s something that COVID brings or creates we may not want them to go away with the Pandemic.

Sunder Sumitra is a curator based in Bangalore, India. She is a queer woman and has been involved in the organization and implementation of some initiatives in Bangalore, India. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art History (2007) and a Master of Arts degree in Museology (2010). She has also spent 7 years pursuing a doctoral degree in Art History, beginning in 2012. A recipient of multiple awards from the Kochi Biennale Foundation, the Curatorial Intensive South Asia for curatorial work, as well as a 5-year fellowship to pursue doctoral research in Curating Contemporary art, her interests are in archival work and following a rather unorthodox path. She joined the Curated conference: “In the wake of COVID-19: altered contexts and prospects for the arts in Asia” as a Creative Interpreter. Keep following MCH to hear more from Sumitra and her interpretations from this conference later this year!

To join the curated conferences and share your own thoughts on the altered contexts and prospects for the arts in Asia, – please register HERE