Exhibition: Our Grandfather Road—The (gendered) body and place in contemporary Southeast Asian art – New Mandala

20 August – 15 October 2022

16albermarle Project Space
16 Albermarle Street
Newtown NSW 2042
Thu – Sat, 11am – 5pm
or by appointment

Presenting the works of seventeen artists—sixteen women and one non-binary person—from a private collection of southeast Asian art, Our Grandfather Road offers an opportunity for Australian audiences to engage with some of the most socially-engaged and topical art produced by contemporary artists both emerging and established from the region. At the same time, the exhibition represents an important lateral connection between Australia and the countries in her immediate proximity. It is at once a way for underrepresented women and non-binary artists in Southeast Asia to find avenues for creative expression or political commentary outside their native countries, and a chance for Australians to engage with a plurality of urgent perspectives situated outside, but not far from, the borders of the nation.

Arahmaiani Feisal (b 1961)

Bussaraporn Thongchai (b 1985)

Citra Sasmita (b 1990)

Emily Phyo (b 1982 )

Fitriani Dwi Kurniasih (b 1981)

I Gusti Ayu Kadek Murniasih (1966-2006)

Ipehnur Beresyit (b 1993)

Kasarin Himacharoen (b 1989)

MM Yu (b 1978)

Maharani Mancanagara (b 1990)

Maria Indriasari (b 1976)

Olga Rindang Amesti (b 1994)

Restu Ratnaningtyas (b 1981)

Sam Lo (21st Century)

Sekarputri Sidhiawati (b 1986)

Soe Yu Nwe (b 1989)

Wawi Navarroza (b 1979)

Resistive to one-dimensional readings or an impulse to categorise, the diverse array of artistic practices represented in the exhibition each test the very definitions of gender and place which appear to bind them together.
Together, they speak to a fluidity in identity and experience. Multifaceted, mutable and always inflected by temporal and spatial specificities, the works challenge assumptions of a universal feminine experience, or of Southeast Asia as a cohesive and fixed regional entity.


Yet, it is from this polyphony of voices that we glean shared concerns and connections.
Rather than a monolithic narrative of womanhood, nationhood, or regionalism, the artworks in Our Grandfather Road are threaded together by an emphasis on the body and its environment. They form persistent reminders of the immediacy of a lived, contextually-sited reality, as it wears itself on the body, sometimes subtly, sometimes violently.


Each artist displays a sense of self that is always marked by and responsive to its surroundings—in Wawi Navarozza’s (Philippines) intimate photographic self-portrait, and MM Yu’s (Philippines) immersive images of rapidly urbanising Manila; and in the co-mingling of vulnerability, beauty, and the grotesque in Soe Yu Nwe’s (Myanmar) glittering ceramic snake, and Bussaraporn Thongchai’s (Thailand) dress of human mammae rendered in gradations of charcoal.


Gathered in an intimate, shared space, the works extend an invitation to observe, listen, and perceive through the artists’ eyes and bodies new possible ways forward—of voicing and staging resistance in the hopes of leaving an imprint.

CURATOR:
Jennifer Yang completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) majoring in Art History at the University of Sydney in 2022. Her research centres on East and Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art, and she was
awarded the University Medal for her dissertation on the contemporary Chinese-Indonesian artist Tintin Wulia. Jennifer has previously interned with Jakarta-based Museum MACAN’s curatorial and collections department  in 2019-20, worked collaboratively with the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ public programs team for the 2021 ArtExpress Exhibition, and has been awarded for her speech responding to Samoan-Australian artist Angela Tiatia’s work. Her recent work includes an essay on contemporary Southeast Asian photography, published by the University of Colombia’s Undergraduate Journal of Art History, and an article on the “forgotten” Chinese-Indonesian painter Chiang Yu Tie written with the support of the Sydney Southeast Asian Centre and published by New Mandala.

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