Asian Artists Break Down Borders

The Asia Society Hong Kong Center is currently presenting No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia,from October 30, 2013, to February 16, 2014. This is an outstanding touring exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative,  featuring recent work by 13 artists from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. No Country presents some of the most interesting artists in South and Southeast Asia today. All works have been newly acquired for the Guggenheim’s collection under the auspices of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund.

Following its presentation in Hong Kong, the exhibition will travel to Singapore.  Curator June Yap says “There is a tremendous diversity of artistic practice in South and Southeast Asia, and certainly more artists and artworks than any single project can accommodate. In this exhibition, the intention is to present the range of aesthetic developments and subjects of interest to contemporary artists, and to challenge the privileging of nation and national narrative as a basis for understanding them. Accompanied by programs for engagement with different local audiences, No Country is more than an exhibition; it is a platform for discussion and exchange.” The title of the show was derived from the opening line of W.B. Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium” (also adopted by Cormac McCarthy for his novel/film No Country for Old Men), proposes an understanding of South and Southeast Asia that transcends physical and political borders. The historical narrative of South and Southeast Asia stretches from the era of its ancient kingdoms and empires to that of today’s nation-states. The region is marked by traces of colonization, division, and intervention, events and processes that are inscribed in cultural memory.

South and Southeast Asia is also home to numerous influential faiths, religions, and ethical codes, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Some of the standout pieces include Love Bed by Bangladeshi artist Tayeba Begum Lipi, a full sized bed frame sculpture constructed entirely of razor blades. Another must see piece is Vietnamese artist Tuan Andrew Nguyen's Enemy's Enemy: Monument to a Monument - an American baseball bat carved with the figure of a monk in the midst of self-immolation protest. The traditional ivory-style carving powerfully embodies the political, social and emotional message of the infamous 1963 event it portrays. The exhibition is at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty..

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