The tropical climate of Southeast Asia lends for torrential downpours across the year. For those not used to the weather, one can be shocked to find what was a pleasantly sunny day, suddenly turn into a very wet situation in under a minute. Known as a sunshower, this frequent meteorological phenomenon in the region is the paradox of rain falling from clear skies.
It is this phenomenon that has been the inspiration behind a major show of Southeast Asian Contemporary Art that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The sunshower is a poetic metaphor for the developments within Southeast Asia that resulted from the post-WWII decolonisation. Despite the turmoil that many countries were thrown into, many experienced democratisation and globalisation that caused rapid economic and urban development, resulting in drastic changes that have since changed the socio-political landscape of the region.
'Sunshower' originally began as an idea conceived between the Director-General of the National Art Center, Tokyo and the Director of the Mori Art Museum, and was assented by The Japan Foundation. The three parties came together to set up a 14-member curatorial team, which conducted a two and a half year field research, culminating in a selection of about 180 artworks by 86 artist groups from the ten ASEAN member countries, exhibited across the two museums.
Through the works selected, the exhibition seeks to explore the development of contemporary art in Southeast Asia since the 1980s against the backdrop of the currents and fluctuations of the times from nine different perspectives, with the goal of capturing its dynamism and diversity. Below is a selection of some of the works that we suggest you check out if you plan on checking out the exhibition!
The nine sections that 'Sunshower' is divided into include: Fluid World that looks at maps and how they reflect socio-poltical economic values, Passion and Revolution that focuses on some of the major wars that shaped the region, Archiving that looks at the development of document-collection in Southeast Asian art, Diverse Identities foucses on postcolonialism and the emergence of independence and democracy, Day by Day is a look at artists' exploration of local everyday life, Growth and Loss is the observation of the changes of globalisation and urbanisation that have impacted Southeast Asia, What is Art? Why Do It? is a look at the development of institutions and the characteristics of the art community in the region, Medium as Meditation focuses on how local traditional culture has affected the way artists use materials as their museums, and finally, Dialogue with History is an exploration into how artists engage with their histories in the present day.
'Sunshower' opens on 5 July 2017 and runs through till 23 October 2017 at Mori Art Museum and the National Art Center, Tokyo. For more information on the full programme and the complete list of artists exhibiting, click here.
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