IFA Contemporary Asia
IFA Contemporary Asia is a new forum organized by students at the Institute of Fine Arts with Professor Jonathan Hay as faculty advisor. This forum augments the Institute’s long-standing engagement with Asia by highlighting new and dynamic scholarship on modern and contemporary Asian art. The series will consider Asian art from continental Asia, Asia Pacific, and the Asian diaspora. In doing so, the forum will address vital issues of cultural exchange, as well as promote the study of local artistic initiatives.
IFA Contemporary Asia provides a platform for scholars, curators, artists, and writers to consider their fields from different perspectives. This forum will comprise two annual lectures, as well as panel discussions, artist talks, and workshops with the aim of fostering new dialogues on modern and contemporary Asian art.
This forum is supported by the Director’s Fund, the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU.
Organizing committee: Emma Fu, Eana Kim, Kolleen Ku, Clarice Lee, Claire Wu, Fiona Yu, Leo Zheng Yuan
Please check the events calendar for upcoming lectures in this series.
April 24, 2023
IFA Contemporary Asia is pleased to present a panel discussion, “Asian Video Cultures on the Global Electronic Superhighway,” on the occasion of the exhibition Signals: How Video Transformed the World, on view at The Museum of Modern Art through July 8, 2023.
Speakers: Stuart Comer, Michelle Kuo, Jeannine Tang, Ryan Lee Wong
Flickering signals of video continually transform, convert, and reconfigure visual culture around the globe, as artists have harnessed video not only as an experimental medium for expression, but as a network for communication and agent of social change. Featuring over 70 media works drawn primarily from MoMA’s collection, the exhibition Signals explores the omnipresence of video in our daily lives and its global reach as a circuit for public participation, propagandistic persuasion, and even political resistance.
This discussion will develop from Signals’s spotlight on video practices from Asia, to question: what is the place of Asian video cultures within the relentlessly networked, seemingly borderless landscape of global media? How has video posed a promise of global access, technological power, and electronic democracy; and how have artists circumvented the medium’s co-optation into a means of state surveillance and control? Ranging from Fujiko Nakaya’s guerilla broadcasts and collective activism in the 1970s, Nam June Paik’s exuberantly international transmissions in 1984’s Good Morning Mr. Orwell, Amar Kanwar’s ode to the political and humanitarian situation in Myanmar, to Tiffany Sia's urgent yet counter-spectacular documentation of the 2019 Hong Kong protests via iPhone, this discussion will situate new media practices from Asia within the contemporary transnational context.
Following a presentation by exhibition curators Stuart Comer, The Lonti Ebers Chief Curator of Media and Performance and Michelle Kuo, The Marlene Hess Curator of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art; two scholars will discuss the ideas provoked by the exhibition’s exploration of Asian new media: Jeannine Tang, Assistant Professor of Modern/Contemporary Art History & Visual Studies at the New School; and Ryan Lee Wong, independent writer, critic, and curator.
Stuart Comer is The Lonti Ebers Chief Curator of Media and Performance at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In addition to Signals: How Video Transformed the World (2023, with Michelle Kuo) and helping to reimagine the Museum’s collection galleries, his other recent projects at MoMA include Adam Pendleton: Who Is Queen? (2021), member: Pope.L, 1978-2001 (2019), Haegue Yang: Handles (2019), and Tania Bruguera: Untitled (Havana, 2000) (2018). He also leads The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio and is currently overseeing the Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP) Asia research group and The Fund for the Twenty-First Century. Prior to joining MoMA. Comer was co-curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2014 Biennial and served as the first Curator of Film at Tate Modern, London.
Dr. Michelle Kuo is The Marlene Hess Curator of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In addition to Signals: How Video Transformed the World (2023, with Stuart Comer), her exhibitions include Refik Anadol: Unsupervised (2022), Amanda Williams: Embodied Sensations (2021), Artist’s Choice: Amy Sillman (2020), and New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century (2019). Kuo has published and lectured publications More than Real: Art in the Digital Age (2018), Acting Out: The Ab-Ex Effect (2011), and a forthcoming volume on the postwar organization Experiments in Art and Technology. She also serves as a critic at the Yale School of Art and on the advisory board of the Museum Brandhorst, Munich. Prior to joining MoMA, Kuo was the Editor-in-Chief of Artforum International from 2010 to 2017.
Dr. Jeannine Tang is an Assistant Professor of Modern/Contemporary Art History & Visual Studies at The New School. Her research interests include modern and contemporary art, exhibition and curatorial history, histories and theories of colonization and diaspora, and feminist, queer and transgender studies. She participated in the Singapore Art Museum’s Curatorial & Research residency in 2022, where she focused on early cyberfeminist net art collectives and their international networks in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Her writing can be found in Artforum, Art Journal, and many other publications.
Ryan Lee Wong is an independent writer, critic, and curator based in Brooklyn. He authored the novel Which Side Are You On and published essays and criticisms on the intersections of the arts, race, and social movements. His recent writings can be found in LA Times Image, The Margins, Frieze, and Hyperallergic. He also curated the exhibitions Serve the People (2014) at Interference Archive and Roots (2017) at Chinese American Museum, which focused on the Asian American movements of the 1970s. Currently, Lee Wong is the Administrative Director of Brooklyn Zen Center in Brooklyn.
March 2, 2023
IFA Contemporary Asia is pleased to present A Conversation with Oscar yi Hou and Eugenie Tsai, moderated by Catherine Quan Damman.
Presented on the occasion of the Brooklyn Museum’s current exhibition Oscar yi Hou: East of sun, west of moon, yi Hou will discuss his work’s engagement with histories both personal and cultural, and the representation of queer, diasporic kinship and identity.
Oscar yi Hou: East of sun, west of moon is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition, and is presented as part of the Brooklyn Museum’s annual UOVO Prize. yi Hou highlights the depth and multiplicity of queer Asian American subjects by recasting himself and close friends as popular characters and historical figures from both Western and East Asian cultures. Drawing from layered references that range from Hollywood film stills, East Asian art objects, to the media franchise Dragon Ball, yi Hou develops his own iconography of the “Chinese cowboy” that subverts the stereotyped, racializing signifiers of Asian American representation in Western visual history.
This discussion seeks to situate yi Hou’s practice in relation to broader questions about the limits and complexities of identity, as well as the political stakes of representation in a time of heightened racial antagonism and visibility. The artist will be joined in conversation by Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum, and Catherine Quan Damman, Linda Nochlin Visiting Assistant Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts.
Oscar yi Hou is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. He was born and raised in Liverpool, England. Alongside his solo exhibition East of sun, west of moon at the Brooklyn Museum, yi Hou is recipient of the third annual UOVO Prize in 2022. In 2021 he presented A sky-licker relation and A dozen poem-pictures at James Fuentes, New York and JamesFuentes.Online, respectively. His work has also been included in exhibitions at the Royal Academy, UK; Asia Society, New York; T293 Gallery, Rome, Italy; Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles; and Sprüth Magers Online.
Eugenie Tsai is the John and Barbara Vogelstein Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum. Prior to joining the Brooklyn Museum, she was the Director of Curatorial Affairs at MoMA P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center and held several positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art. As an independent curator, Tsai worked on projects for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Berkeley Museum; and the Princeton University Art Museum.
Catherine Quan Damman is the Linda Nochlin Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where she teaches and advises graduate work on feminist and queer approaches to global modern and contemporary art. She is completing her first monograph, Performance: A Deceptive History, with the support of a 2022–2023 ACLS Fellowship, and is a frequent contributor to Artforum and other publications.
May 3, 2022
Title: The Future of Asian American Art History: A Conversation with Marci Kwon and Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, Moderated by Alexandra Chang
Speakers: Founding co-directors of the AAAI, Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, Assistant Curator of American art at the Cantor, and Marci Kwon, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University, Moderated by Alexandra Chang, director of the Global Asia/Pacific Art Exchange and Virtual Asian American Art Museum with the A/P/A Institute at NYU and Associate Professor at Rutgers University-Newark.
IFA Contemporary Asia is pleased to present The Future of Asian American Art History: A Conversation with Marci Kwon and Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, Moderated by Alexandra Chang. The equivocal history of Asian American art presents a challenge for scholars envisioning its future directions. The field and its subjects oscillate between obscurity and hypervisibility, the latter often emerging from moments of crisis facing Asiancommunities in America. For AsianAmerican art history to stake a larger claim on the future, it must shatter the many disciplinary, political, and economic boundaries that both prescribe its categorization and relegate it to a minor position. How can scholars of Asian American art move beyond identity-based interpretations to resist the limits of established categorizations, and open up new fields of inquiry? In attending to Asian American art’s global and diasporic dimensions, its interdisciplinary resonances across literature and cultural studies, and confrontations with legacies of racialization and colonization, how does the field of Asian American art challenge normative narratives of art history and modernity itself?
The Asian American Art Initiative (AAAI), established in 2021 at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, marks a significant new effort dedicated to the research, collection, and exhibition of works by Asian American and Asian diaspora artists. In this event, we will hear from founding co-directors of the AAAI, Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, Assistant Curator of American art at the Cantor, and Marci Kwon, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University, on their significant effort to preserve artworks and archives in the face of institutional racism, and the development of Asian American art history. The conversation will be moderated by Alexandra Chang, director of the Global Asia/Pacific Art Exchange and Virtual Asian American Art Museum with the A/P/A Institute at NYU and Associate Professor at Rutgers University-Newark.
September 22, 2021
Title: Traversing Multiple Realities of Contemporary American and Asian Art: Shahzia Sikander
Speakers: Professor Dipti Khera, Associate Professor of South Asian Art and Architecture at NYU; Dr. Kelly Baum, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Professor Gayatri Gopinath, Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU; Dr. Brinda Kumar, Associate Curator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Shahzia Sikander, Artist.
In conjunction with the exhibition Shahzia Sikander: Extraordinary Realities, jointly organized by the Morgan Library & Museum (on view through September 26, 2021) and the RISD Museum (November 12, 2021 - January 30, 2022), IFA Contemporary Asia is excited to present a webinar featuring the internationally celebrated Pakistani American artist Shahzia Sikander. Having established pioneering conversations since the 1990s between her contemporary art practice and South, West, and Central Asian manuscript traditions, Sikander exploded their storytelling potential within heterogeneous mediums over the past three decades. Sikander's paintings, video animations, mosaics, and sculptures incisively probe gender roles and sexuality, racial and colonial narratives. Her work playfully critiques Orientalist histories of art and America's global wars, poignantly centering the violence of empires, past and present, and displaying near and distant geographies as inextricably linked.
Professor Dipti Khera, Associate Professor of South Asian Art and Architecture at NYU, will introduce the panel. Three scholars will discuss the ideas and questions provoked by Sikander's wide-ranging artistic practice: Dr. Kelly Baum, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Professor Gayatri Gopinath, Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU; and Dr. Brinda Kumar, Associate Curator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This discussion seeks to expand the understandings of Sikander's practice in relation to broader narratives about contemporary American and Asian Art; the framing of Asian diasporic artists in curatorial practice and museums; and the history of collecting and colonialism that Sikander has intertwined in interrogating migrations of peoples and objects in the longue durée.
Kelly Baum is Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has been working as a curator and scholar for over twenty years. She has organized dozens of exhibitions, among them Carol Bove: setting for A. Pomodoro; Nobody's Property: Art, Space, 2000-2010; Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950-1980; The Facade Commission: Wangechi Mutu; and most recently, with Randy Griffey, Alice Neel: People Come First. Her writing has been widely published in books and periodicals, such as October and Art Journal. She received her PhD from the University of Delaware in 2005, and was a 2018 fellow in the Center for Curatorial Leadership.
Gayatri Gopinath is Professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, and the Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at New York University. She works at the intersection of transnational feminist and queer studies, postcolonial studies, and diaspora studies, and is the author of two monographs: Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures (Duke University Press, 2005), and Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora (Duke University Press, 2018). She has published numerous essays on gender, sexuality, and queer diasporic visual art and culture in anthologies and journals such as Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, GLQ, and Social Text, as well as in art publications such as PIX: A Journal of Contemporary Indian Photography, Tribe: Photography and New Media from the Arab World, and ArtReview Asia.
Brinda Kumar is an Associate Curator in the department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, where she has worked on several exhibitions including Nasreen Mohamedi (2016), Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible (2016), Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body, 1300-Now (2018), Home Is a Foreign Place: Recent Acquisitions in Context (2019), and Gerhard Richter: Painting After All (2020). Brinda completed her BFA at the College of Art, New Delhi, and her MA at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her PhD dissertation at Cornell University focused on the history of collecting Indian art in America in the twentieth century, and she conducted research through fellowships from Cornell University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Frick Collection. She is the author of several essays for museum catalogues, and has published articles from her doctoral research on Okakura Kakuzo and Ananda Coomaraswamy.
Pioneering Pakistani American artist, Shahzia Sikander is widely celebrated for expanding and subverting pre-modern and classical Central and South-Asian manuscript painting traditions and launching the form known today as neo-miniature. By bringing the non-western art-historical visual vernacular into dialogue with contemporary international art practices, Sikander’s multivalent and investigative work examines colonial archives to readdress orientalist narratives in western art history. Interrogating ideas of language, trade, empire, and migration through imperial and feminist perspectives Sikander’s paintings, video animations, mosaics and sculpture explore gender roles and sexuality, cultural identity, racial narratives, and colonial and postcolonial histories. Recipient of the MacArthur genius grant and US Medal of Art, Sikander's work has been exhibited and collected internationally and currently her early works from 1988-2003 are on view at the Morgan Library NY and will travel to RISD Museum in fall 2021 and MFA Houston in spring 2022.
March 22, 2021
Speakers: Christopher Y. Lew, Nancy and Fred Poses Curator, the Whitney Museum of American Art; Ambika Trasi, Curatorial Assistant, the Whitney Museum of American Art; moderated by Professor Gayatri Gopinath, Director of the Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality, NYU.
Description: IFA Contemporary Asia is pleased to present the annual Curators in Conversation public program with Christopher Y. Lew and Ambika Trasi. Presented on the occasion of the Whitney's current exhibition Salman Toor: How Will I Know, Lew and Trasi will address the curation of contemporary South Asian diaspora art and the exhibition's engagement with queer, diasporic, and transnational identity.
Christopher Y. Lew is the Nancy and Fred Poses Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Lew oversees the emerging artist program at the Museum and was co-curator of the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Working with Ambika Trasi, he is co-curator of Salman Toor: How Will I Know. Lew has also organized Pope.L: Choir (2019), Kevin Beasley: A view of a landscape(2018), and mounted the first US solo exhibitions for Sophia Al-Maria, Rachel Rose, and Jared Madere. He also organized Lucy Dodd's large-scale installation that was part of the exhibition Open Plan (2016). Prior to joining the Whitney, he was Assistant Curator at MoMA PS1 and organized numerous exhibitions there. Lew has contributed to several publications including Art AsiaPacific, Art Journal, Bomb, Huffington Post, and Mousse.
Ambika Trasi is an artist and arts organizer based in Brooklyn, NY. Her research-based practice considers the coloniality of power within images and sites. Recent curatorial projects include Salman Toor: How Will I Know, co-curated with Nancy and Fred Poses Curator, Christopher Y. Lew at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and A Space for Monsters at Twelve Gates Arts, Philadelphia, featuring works by Maryam Hoseini, Kaveri Raina, and Anjuli Rathod. Previously, Trasi was the managing director and curatorial assistant at Asia Contemporary Art Week (ACAW), where she worked on projects such as Lee Mingwei: Sonic Blossom, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2015); THINKING CURRENTS, Seattle Art Fair (2015); and four iterations of ACAW's signature performance program, FIELD MEETING, hosted at Asia Society (2014 & 2016), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2015), the 56th Venice Biennale (a collateral event, 2015), and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2016). As a board member of the South Asian Women's Creative Collective from 2015-2019, Trasi was an exhibition manager for shows held at Queens Museum (2016) and Abrons Art Center (2017).
Gayatri Gopinath is Professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, and the Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at New York University. She works at the intersection of transnational feminist and queer studies, postcolonial studies, and diaspora studies. She is the author of Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures (2005) and Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora (2018).
Organizing committee: Eana Kim, Titi Deng, Kristie Lui, Kolleen Ku, and Cindy Qian.
November 18, 2020
Title: Historicizing the Avant-Garde Context in Korea: From Experimental Arts to Collective Groups
Speaker: Yeon Shim Chung, Professor, Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea
The lecture was given by Professor Yeon Shim Chung on the occasion of her latest edited book, Korean Art From 1953: Collision, Innovation, Interaction, published by Phaidon in June 2020. The discussion focused on Korean experimental avant-garde art in the 1960s and 1970s and its global context. Prof. Chung examined in detail the collective groups, such as A.G. (Avant-Garde), S.T. (Study & Time), The Fourth Group in the late 1960s and 1970s, groups that stimulated the identity of Korean avant-gardism and initiated the conflicting issues of “body and gender,” “art and language,” and “art and environments.” The talk also featured works by individual artists, including Lee Seung-Taek, Kim Kulim, Lee Kun-Yon, and Lee Kang-so.
Yeon Shim Chung is a professor of the department of Art Studies (Art History and Theory) at Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea. She received her Ph.D. in art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Her research interests encompass both modern and contemporary Western and East Asian art. Before teaching at Hongik, she was an assistant professor at art history department at FIT/SUNY in New York City and a researcher for the exhibition The Worlds of Nam June Paik at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1999. Dr. Chung also co-curated Faultlines (2018 Gwangju Biennnale Edition). In 2013, she compiled the critical anthology of Lee Yil, a major proponent of the Korean monochrome movement, "Dansaekhwa," in post-war Korean art (Mijinsa, 2013; English translation published at Les Presses du réel, 2018). Dr. Chung authored several articles on Dansaekhwa at M+ Matters (Hong Kong), and monographs on Lee Bul, Nam June Paik, Park Hyun-Ki, and Korean experimental avant-garde artists. She published a book chapter in Visualizing Beauty: Gender and Ideology in Modern East Asia (2012); and has several monographs entitled Installation Art in Contemporary Space (2014), Korean Contemporary Art Now (2015), and Korean Installation Art (2018). Chung co-edited Korean Art from 1953: Collision, Innovation, Interaction (London: Phaidon, 2020).
March 9, 2020
Title: Curators in Conversation
Speaker: Eugenie Tsai
Moderator: Eana Kim
This conversation featured her most recent exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum , Jacque-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley and Jeffery Gibson: When Fire is Applied to a Stone It Cracks, which were widely acclaimed in the press as one of the must-see exhibitions around the world at the time. Other topics included cultural specificity, diversity, and identity in curatorial practice, her academic background and curatorial career, and the mission and collection management of the Brooklyn Museum.
Eugenie Tsai joined the Brooklyn Museum in fall 2007 as John and Barbara Vogelstein Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, and has presented a number of exhibitions there highlighting the contemporary collection. She has also organized several other exhibitions including Sanford Biggers: Sweet Funk—An Introspective; Lee Mingwei: The Moving Garden; LaToya Ruby Frazier: A Haunted Capital; The Bruce High Quality Foundation: Ode to Joy, 2001–2013; Valerie Hegarty: Alternative Histories; Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond (organized with Ru Hockley); and Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic. Previously, Tsai was Director of Curatorial Affairs at MoMA PS1 and Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Among the exhibitions and installations, she has organized elsewhere are Threshold: Byron Kim, 1990–2004 at UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Robert Smithson at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Shuffling the Deck: The Collection Reconsidered at Princeton University. Dr. Tsai received a B.A. from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.
September 13, 2019
Panel Discussion: Curating South Asian Modernism
How do politics, diplomacy, and other worldviews influence both private collecting and exhibition organizing? What factors enter into a curator’s selection of works for a show? How do museums and other institutions help shape a collector’s identity? These questions and more were considered by speakers Sean Anderson, Associate Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art; Beth Citron, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rubin Museum of Art; and Saloni Mathur, Professor of Art History, UCLA. Moderated by Lynn Gumpert, Director, Grey Art Gallery, NYU.
Offered in conjunction with Modernisms: Iranian, Turkish, and Indian Highlights from NYU's Abby Weed Grey Collection, exhibition on view at the Grey Art Gallery, New York University, September 10-December 7, 2019.
May 2, 2019
Speaker: Professor Joan Kee, Associate Professor in History of Art, University of Michigan
To what extent do Asian artists’ engagements with materiality call for a reading of Minimalism against the grain? Through works produced in the 1960s and 70s by artists like Roberto Chabet, Redza Piyadasa, Kim Lim and Yoli Laudico, this talk gestured to a contemporary art geography unmoored from received political and discursive configurations.
Joan Kee focuses on modern and contemporary art from multiregional and crossdisciplinary perspectives. Her first book, Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method (2013) was on a finalist for the Charles Rufus Morey Prize for the most distinguished book in art history, and has been credited by numerous publications for bringing international attention to Korean abstraction. Kee works with multiple subfields and recently published her second book, Models of Integrity: Art and Law in Post-Sixties America in March. Kee is a contributing editor at Artforum, as well on the advisory boards of Art History, the Oxford Art Journal and Art Margins.
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