Following the 'Docks & Seamen' play session, esea contemporary is excited to host a roundtable discussion led by curator and co-editor, Annie Jael Kwan, with artist filmmaker Clare Chun-yu Liu and Kai Syng Tan (artist, curator, academic, consultant, agitator, change-maker, volunteer and gatecrasher).
With further reference to the publication’s themes, the discussion explores artistic strategy for engaging with notions of diasporic Asian identities, communities and solidarities within the post Brexit, post-pandemic challenges and the precarious cultural landscape of the UK.
'Asia-Art-Activism: Experiments in Care and Collective Disobedience' is a polyvocal collection of 18 essays by leading academics, artists, curators and researchers who address urgent questions of the complexities of UK Black/Asian race relations and migrations, in parallel with global Black/Asia political entanglements and tensions, reflections on the rise of anti-Asian/migrant sentiment in the UK in relation to the ‘Hostile environment’ and the weaponisation of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Across discursive and creative pieces, writers also explore where Asia is situated within institutional narratives of British art, the nature of transnational solidarity, and how ‘diaspora’ can work as a lens to inform and inflect cultural activities. It also includes artistic contributions from AAA Residency Associates from 2018-2021.
Yarli Allison / Tamsin Barber / Eva Bentcheva / Youngsook Choi / Whiskey Chow / Kimberly Drew / Bettina Fung / Gasp-C (Burong, Howl Yuan & Mengting Zhuo) / Carô Gervay / Joon Lynn Goh / Taey Iohe / Annie Jael Kwan / June Lam / Adriel Luis / Arianna Mercado / Hammad Nasar / Cường Phạm / Quek Jia Qi / Sunil Shah / Ashley Thompson / Ming Tiampo / Joanna Wolfarth / Diana Yeh
Asia-Art-Activism is an interdisciplinary, intergenerational network of artists, curators, and academics investigating concepts relating to ‘Asia’, ‘art’, and ‘activism’ in the UK. Expanding a conversation around ‘Asia’ as a contested paradigm and the lived transnational narratives of its diasporas, migrant, and resident communities, the network highlights lesser-known accounts of Asian artists and activists in the UK, and questions ESEA invisibility within institutional narratives of British art and politics. Through its multifaceted practice of exhibitions, public programming, social gatherings, and publications, Asia-Art-Activism examines discursive conditions for ESEA artists and activists within a negotiation of decoloniality and solidarity with other protagonists of colour, and aims to develop greater alliances with other artistic and civic movements. It is motivated by the belief that an intersectional and inclusive approach resists reductive identity politics, and that spending time together is a political act of resilience and joy and an opportunity to share different perspectives and methodologies.
Clare Chun-yu Liu is an artist filmmaker. Funded by the Vice-Chancellor Scholarship at Manchester School of Art, her recently completed practice-based fine art PhD re-interpreted English chinoiserie from a postcolonial and personal/Taiwanese perspective. Outside of the PhD, she has been exploring the Chinese diaspora based on her familial background. In her practice, she extensively employs oral history and lived experience in the form of fiction and non-fiction to challenge the grand narratives.
Clare is a Professional Mentor at University of the Arts London and has lectured at Manchester School of Art. Her films have been screened/exhibited in the UK and internationally, including at the ICA London, Oxford University, New Art Exchange, EXiS Seoul, Image Forum Japan, Kasseler Dokfest, DOBRA Festival Rio de Janeiro, Taipei International Video Art Exhibition, Goethe Institut Lisbon, British Council Hong Kong and Mingsheng Art Museum Beijing. Her work is in VIDEOTAGE Media Art Collection, Hong Kong.
Kai Syng Tan PhD FRSA PFHEA (she/her/they) is an award-winning artist, curator, academic, consultant, agitator, change-maker, volunteer and gatecrasher. Why/what/when/how/whom (with/for) Kai does seeks to catalyse conversations and actions for a more equitable and creative future. Mobilising artistic and artful processes to develop new and meaningful connections (‘productive antagonisms’) in a playful way (‘ill-disciplined’) across disciplinary/cultural/ geopolitical/sectoral/class and other normative divides, as well as diverse/divergent bodies and bodies of knowledge, Kai generates novel insights and urgent questions.
Annie Jael Kwan is an independent curator and researcher based in London and working between the UK, Europe and Asia. Her exhibition-making, programming, publication, and teaching practice is located at the intersection of contemporary art, cultural and pedagogical activism with an interest in archives, feminist, queer and alternative histories and knowledges, collective practice and solidarity.
In 2018, she curated the exhibition and public programme, UnAuthorised Medium in 2018 at Framer Framed, Netherlands, which featured 12 artists working with 'alternative archives' in relation to Southeast Asia. In 2019, she co-curated the Archive-in-Residence Southeast Asia Performance Collection archive exhibition and the Pathways of Performativity conference at Haus der Kunst, Munich. Most recently, she was Curator-in-Residence at FACT from 2020-2022, curating the multidisciplinary exhibition, Future Ages Will Wonder.
She leads Asia-Art-Activism (AAA) an interdisciplinary and intergenerational network of artists, curators and academics investigating ‘Asia’, ‘art’ and ‘activism’ in the UK and transnationally, launched in 2018 at Raven Row. Along with contributing to various publications as a writer, she was the co-editor of 'Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia’s guest issues: Archives' (2019) and 'Pathways to Performativity' (2022), and co-edited 'Asia-Art-Activism: Experiments in Care and Collective Disobedience' (2022). She is the instigating council member of Asia Forum that unfolded across digital gatherings in 2021, and presented an inaugural programme in Venice at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in 2022.