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10 Essential Artist Collectives in Asia You Should Know (Part 2)


10 Essential Artist Collectives in Asia You Should Know (Part 2)
Death By A Thousand Cuts by Singaporean artist collective Vertical Submarine (Image courtesy of The Straits Times)

In part two of our list of 10 Essential Artist Collectives in Asia You Should Know, we continue to bring you a mix of the most established names in the Asian contemporary art scene, alongside some emerging collectives that you should be looking out for. Scroll down for the final five names in our list!

  1. teamLab

    teamLab founder Toshiyuki Inoko
    Image courtesy of Lifestyle Asia

    2016 was a productive year of Japanese “ultra-technologist” art collective teamLab – it seemed  almost as if you couldn’t turn a corner without seeing one of their immersive experiential interactive digital works. Established in 2001 by a group of friends, including Toshiyuki Inoko, who had just graduated out of university, teamLab was a passion project for many of the initial members, who mostly programmers and designers, taking up other projects to fund what would become one of the biggest and most prominent collectives in Asia.

    Since then, the collective has grown to a 400 strong team of architects, CG animators, painters, mathematicians and hardware engineers, teamLab is focused on developing their concept of Ultra Subjective Space in which they explore the spatial awareness of pre-modern Japanese art that is ‘flat’ in terms of three-dimensional renderings, by building a three-dimensional world and flattening them using logical constructs. This explains why some of their works, such as Black Waves, have strong references to the Japanese tradition of Ukiyo-e woodblock printing.
    "Black Waves" by teamLab
    Image courtesy of teamLab

    The collaborative spirit is very strong in teamLab, despite their size. There is no hierarchy within the collective and ideas are greatly respected no matter who they originate from. Brainstorming sessions are a regular event, with multiple prototypes being produced to develop the final project.
  2. The Archivist

    The Archivist founders & artist Santi Lawrachawee in their studio.

    Founded by Minchaya Chayosumrit & Kanaporn Phasuk, The Archivist is an artist-run gallery and screen-printing studio based in Bangkok that collaborates with many artists from Thailand and around the world. Promoting the medium of print, The Archivist showcases artist projects available for purchase online.

    These collaborations with artists, designers and illustrators, led them to their first independent exhibition in 2015 entitled ‘AN ORIGINAL BY THE ORIGINALS’ at the Jam Factory, a multi-purpose concept venue housed in re-vamped warehouse that combines a restaurant, bookshop, art gallery and home décor store.
    TCDC COMMONS x The Archivist at Wonderfruit
    Image courtesy of The Archivist

    Recently the collective has hosted a screenprint workshop at Southeast Asia’s answer to Burning Man, Wonderfruit Festival. A collaborative effort with TCDC COMMONS, the project invited festival-goers to be involved in a large-scale screen-print project that put community at the forefront.
  3. Vertical Submarine

    Vertical Submarine consists of Justin, Joshua and Fiona
    Image courtesy of Fourplays: ABCD

    This independent art collective from Singapore comprises of three members: Joshua Yang, Justin Loke and Fiona Koh, who joined forces to become Vertical Submarine which is a play on the word ‘subvert’ (inverted to vert-sub, then expanded to Vertical Submarine). This playfulness and manipulation of words have come to be iconic of their works, which have included paintings, drawings, installations, books and multimedia.
    "Play The Piano Drunk Like A Percussion Instrument Until The Middle Finger Begins To Bleed A Bit" by Vertical Submarine
    Image courtesy of Chan Hampe Galleries

    In 2009 the trio won the Singapore President’s Young Talents Award, as well as the Credit Suisse Artist Residency Award, and in 2011 they won the Celeste Prize (Installation). They have also participated in art projects in Hong Kong, Seoul, Australia and Mexico City. One of their most recent projects, Death by a Thousand Cuts involved the installation of an entire deconstructed kitchen into a gallery space as an exploration into memory. The slices across the kitchen mimic that of an old photograph, being folded over and over again and reflecting “how spaces serve as extensions of their inhabitants’ bodies, and the connection between severed spaces and bodies as related to executions and a life in exile.”
  4. Paper Moon Puppet Theatre

    Paper Moon Puppet Theatre was founded by Maria Tri Sulistyani and includes Iwan Effendi
    Image courtesy of Footscray Community Arts Centre

    Founded in 2006 by Maria Tri Sulistyani, who is an illustrator, writer, and former theatre actor, Paper Moon Puppet Theatre now extends to Iwan Effendi. Paper Moon began as a performing puppet-theatre for neighbourhood children, and has since expanded to include site-specific performances.
    "Suara Muara (The Sounds of the Estuary)" by Paper Moon Puppet Theatre
    Image courtesy of Here Now

    Using a whimsical mix of puppetry and multi-media installations, Paper Moon recreates a harrowing period in Indonesia’s rich history, exploring complex and emotional themes that are often political in nature. Mwathirika is a particularly emblematic piece of their explorations, telling a tale of a family during the anti-communist purge following a failed coup in Indonesia in 1965, when over 500,000 people were killed.
    Paper Moon Puppet Theatre's commission for ART|JOG 13
    Image courtesy of ART|JOG

    Based in Jogjakarta, Paper Moon has performed and exhibited in Singapore, USA, The Philippines and Thailand. In 2013, they were commissioned by ART|JOG for the façade of the Jogja National Museum – an annual commission by a specially selected artist in line with a curatorial theme – entitled Finding Lunang.
  5. Utopia Group

    "Utopian Artistic Stock A" by Utopia Group featuring the faces of Deng Dafei and He Hai
    Image courtesy of the artists

    Utopia Group is a co-collaboration between Deng Dafei and He Hai, the former having earned a MFA from China Academy of Fine Art, and the latter an MFA in Fine Art from Donghua University. Deng and He use residencies as their primary method to create works together.

    "Dark Utopia" by Utopia Group
    Image courtesy of the artists

    They gained much acclaim and attention for their year-long project Family Museum in 2008 at the Zendai Art Museum in Shanghai in which they explored the concept of having an art venue outside of the gallery system. Utopia Group found 12 volunteers who opened up their homes to the public as family museums for a day, with each family being responsible for the monthly family exhibitions throughout the year.
    One of the homes that was part of "Family Museum"
    Image courtesy of the artists

    The duo have also shown at The Palace of Puzzles in Scotland, as well as the Asian Art Triennale in Manchester, UK. Utopia Group creates with the goal of having viewers reflect on the effect of the human condition on their lives. This is achieved with the support of cultural research approaches, that enables them to present a world that seemingly combines art with imagination, which in turn presents us with a reality divorced from societal expectation – and alternative reality of sorts that presents us with a ‘utopia’, while encouraging us to question what utopia means to us.

Think another Asian art collective should have made it to our list? Let us know by tweeting us @TheArtling. We would love to hear your thoughts!


Click here to see who the other five Asian art collectives that made it to our list are!

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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