Mekong Cultural Hub

Delta X program: Meet the Curators

We invite you to meet with the three curators of the Delta X program: Pillai Janet (Malaysia), Marco Kusumawijaya (Indonesia) and Jennifer Teo (Singapore), and learn about their vision when joining this program. The curators are experienced cultural practitioners who help to guide each group of alumni and curate the whole process to meet the aims. 

“I am excited to participate in DELTA X: Conversations and Collaborations, which will bring SEAD alumni together to critically examine social transformation that could be empowered by arts and culture.

I believe strongly that the arts have a critical role to play in our increasingly fragile world. Ironically, our man-made systems are beginning to fail us as our natural interconnectedness and interdependence becomes more obvious by the day. It seems that the traditional interconnectedness  between art and life is  being rediscovered again in these threatening climes.   

As a researcher and practitioner interested in the development of socially-engaged arts in the Asian region I am curious about the experiences and intentions of  artists who are working in this arena today. Whom are they collaborating with, why, and what form do these collaborations take? Are there tensions or challenges they face moving between the institutional sector and the community sector, moving between representation and action? 

While arts activism and community-engaged arts have always had a presence historically in the region, will the same approaches suffice or will we need  to ‘shift’ our ways of thinking and doing? Are we moving in the right direction? Perhaps it is time for us to come together to connect, share, exchange and perhaps move in unison…hence DELTA X.”

“I would like to work together with the alumni, all curators and organisers, in rethinking the relations between arts, communities, cities and the environment. The inter-contextuality that SEAD program offers is fundamentally necessary and useful for rethinking those relations.

As I have always been studying cities—being an urbanist for more than half of my life by now— and have written a couple of books on them, and currently writing a very long one now on Indonesian cities, the above is always a professional passion.

I want to keep learning. I am fortunate enough to know arts a bit because of studying cities and had managed Jakarta Arts Council in 2006-2010, but need to keep learning to better run some residency programs in our sustainability learning centre in Yogyakarta, and curate a few art processes in our “arts and the city/environment/community” programs.

The climate crisis has given rise to an unprecedented challenge to humanity. Recently some updated knowledge about the climate emergency has made it obvious that some kind of transformation in the way we live—culture!— is urgently needed. Given our backgrounds, we can say in a most simple way that this transformation is needed within and without the arts. 

I hope, together with all alumni, curators and organisers, we will commit ourselves to rethink and converse about transformation, and make some steps forward, even if with the smallest baby steps possible.”

“With COP26 having just ended with disappointing results, and the climate crisis and numerous social issues getting worse by the day, how do we the people reclaim the power to ensure our survival? How do we end the exploitation and destruction that our societies have been addicted to? How do we come together and connect deeply with one another? How do we forge a kind and just future for everyone? 

I believe that these are some of the most pertinent and urgent questions today. I believe that we, as people working in the culture and social spheres, are well-placed to imagine and create the solutions we need. I believe that when we start to awaken, we will produce a ripple then a wave of awakenings across our respective communities. I believe that each one of us has the power to manifest a beautiful future. I believe that we are all called here today because the time is right for transformation. 

As such, I’m honoured and excited to be one of the curators of SEAD’s new programme DeltaX: Conversations and Collaborations. This opportunity for us to take time to connect, learn about one another, share our concerns, discuss ideas, and work on possible projects is truly precious, and it will definitely go some way in helping us to create the future we all need.”