Performance Art in Southeast Asia: Conference on “Embodied Histories” from 13 to 14 June 2019

Hamburger Bahnhof – Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart

A conference and performance programme on 13 and 14 June 2019 at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin seeks to open up new perspectives on performative arts and practices in Southeast Asia and the West. The event “Embodied Histories – Entangled Communities. Southeast Asian and Western Approaches to Narratives and Performance Art” will focus on narratives and history and their embodiments.

At the two-day conference artists, including Arahmaiani, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Ho Rui An and Julia Sarisetiati (ruangrupa, Gudskul), will hold discussions with people involved in culture and the arts, theoreticians and curators such as Cosmin Costinas, Patrick D. Flores and David Teh. The combination of lecture and performance in the programme reflects the interest of the event organisers to explore ways in which curatorial, institutional and academic practices can learn from artistic ones.

Focus and Background of the Conference

Performative arts, and performance art in the narrower sense, are characterised by media hybridity and interdisciplinary links that are associated with variable social contexts and polychronic art histories. The multifaceted mythological, literary and political histories in Southeast Asia and in the West also influence the embodied knowledge in the respective social communities in ways that extend beyond the performance practices and presentation methods. Of particular interest in this regard are the different temporalities, which often represent asymmetrical power structures, and the formation of transnational and transtemporal communities through performative events and practices.

Against this background, conference participants will pose questions about the curatorial, academic and institutional implications of these practices:

  • How can performance art and performative artistic and social practices be collected, archived, exhibited, reflected upon, conveyed or transformed?
  • Which role do narrative strategies play in conveying knowledge and experience?
  • How can performative and curatorial approaches be combined?
  • What can cultural institutions learn from narrative and performative practices with respect to their own diverse audiences?
  • Can stereotypical patterns of hegemonic narratives be unlearned and which new experiences result?
  • How can diverse communities be reached, altered and possibly even constituted with these artistic practices?

A following exhibition series explores entanglements with Germany:

The event in June 2019 will be followed by a series of exhibition in 2020 and 2021 in Berlin, Chiang Mai und Jakarta. The exhibitions will deal with particular local narratives as the politically entangled history of the Southeast Asian countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and in regard to those countries historical entanglements with Germany.

Registration and Programme

The conference “Embodied Histories – Entangled Communities. Southeast Asian and Western Approaches to Narratives and Performance Art” is a cooperation between the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum for Contemporary Art – Berlin and the Cluster of Excellence 2020 “Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective” of the Freie Universität Berlin, with the support of the Goethe-Institut in Southeast Asia.

The conference and performance program was conceived by Gridthiya Gaweewong (Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok, MAIIAM, Chiang Mai), Anna-Catharina Gebbers (Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin), Grace Samboh (researcher, curator, Yogyakarta), Siuli Tan and June Yap (Singapore Art Museum) in collaboration with Kirsten Maar (Institut für Tanzwissenschaft, Freie Universität Berlin) and Annette Jael Lehmann (Institut für Theaterwissenschaft and Cluster of Excellence 2020 "Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective").