Dansoung Sungvoraveshapan, via Bangkok Post

Weekly Southeast Asia Radar: Bangkok Art Biennale; Singapore creatives forced home

ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar features articles and posts about arts and culture in Southeast Asia, drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region. In the weekly Southeast Asia Radar, we publish a round-up of content that have been scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms.

Here is this week’s Southeast Asia Radar:


Dansoung Sungvoraveshapan’s Winged. Photo: Dansoung Sungvoraveshapan via Bangkok Post


Art as our escape
Bangkok Post, Thailand

This year’s theme is at once hopeful and ironic: “Escape Routes” suggests a flight from our unusual times of pathological disruption and political cataclysm — here, there and everywhere — and yet the theme is an acknowledgment of those in-our-face uncertainties from which we struggle to find an exit.

In this strange moment in history, the Bangkok Art Biennale 2020 (BAB 2020) bucks the trend and decides to go ahead. Scheduled from Oct 29 to Jan 31, Bangkok’s biggest art show is set to happen as a physical event despite a slate of challenges on many fronts, chiefly the Covid-19 pandemic, the global intervention that has forced several international art events to cancel in the past months as well as in the near future. But throughout the three months of BAB 2020, 82 artists, working under the banner “Escape Routes”, will put up their works at nine venues, featuring paintings to performance sessions, video art to huge installation pieces.

Given the timing, BAB 2020 sets itself up as something more than just a citywide art show. As the first major international event to take place in Thailand in the socially-distanced age, it will be a test whether the country is ready to move across the threshold. And if it succeeds — if it beats logistic and travel challenges — art will illuminate the path and become a saviour to us all.

Patroli Waspada (Alert Patrol) by Munadi. Photo: National Gallery of Indonesia via Jakarta Post


‘Manifesto VII’ takes a peek at public’s pandemic perception
Jakarta Post, Indonesia

When something becomes a defining moment in the zeitgeist, arts and culture will inevitably revolve around it, especially when it is a pandemic affecting billions.

Despite the closure of public places due to safety procedures, the arts have continued to flourish in one place where the virus will not be able to ravage: the internet.

While virtual exhibitions have become common as part of the so-called “new normal”, the seventh edition of the National Gallery of Indonesia’s biennial contemporary art exhibition Manifesto marks the first time it has been held online.

Accessible on the National Gallery of Indonesia website at galnasonline.id until Dec. 6, Manifesto VII exhibits 217 works by 204 artists, selected from an open call process involving more than 300 submissions.

[Read more…]


Three playwrights, ca. 1981: Boy Noriega, Paul Dumol and Butch Dalisay. Via PhilStar
A playwright for our time
Phil Star, The Philippines

Today, Sept. 14, marks the 26th death anniversary of a dear friend and, for me, one of the best Filipino playwrights of his generation, Bienvenido M. Noriega Jr., or “Boy” as we knew him.

The literary world is full of poets, fictionists and essayists, but playwrights are few and far between, and good playwrights come even more rarely. Boy wasn’t just good — he was great, which is a word I don’t use very often with people. He understood and magnified the human condition onstage with uncommon empathy, and without the histrionics that passed for drama in lesser hands. Amazingly, his formal training wasn’t even in literature or creative writing, but economics, at which he professionally excelled as well.

He was a friend and mentor, one of the earliest and strongest influences on my own writing. Although just two years older than me, he was streets ahead as far as his grasp of craft and his artistic vision were concerned; while I was flailing around for material and treatment, he knew what he was doing, and generously led me along.

[Read more…]

Singaporean creatives forced home rediscover the Lion City’s unique characteristics
South China Morning Post

When California-based performance artist and actor Loo Zihan returned home to Singapore in March, he began taking long walks along the Rail Corridor – a stretch of greenery that spans the country’s old railway line. The three-hour, 9.5km (6 mile) hikes through nature were a balm for the social isolation he endured during Singapore’s partial lockdown, when people were only permitted to leave their homes for essential business or exercise.

“Being a performance-based artist, I was interested in observing how the body adjusts to restrictions of mobility, and how it adapts to being confined within a limited space for long periods of time,” says Loo, who decided to return to Singapore at the urging of friends and family worried about the rapidly worsening spread of Covid-19 in the United States.

His isolation walks inspired him to create a performance project titled Temporary Measures, a series of one-on-one long-distance “processions” along the Rail Corridor accompanied by donors to a fundraiser for migrant workers. During these three-hour walks, run by the Coda Culture art gallery, Loo discussed prearranged subjects with the donor and introduced them to a little-visited, wilder stretch of the Lion City.

“This performance was a way to share with others the underexplored areas of Singapore I discovered during the long walks I took in social isolation,” Loo says.

[Read more…]


‘Missing’ Wayang Kulit Puppets Being Preserved, Says Curator
TwentyTwo13, Malaysia

The absence of several wayang kulit puppets, including Maharaja Rawana, Hanuman Kera Putih and Sita Dewi at The Malay World Ethnology Museum, has raised eyebrows.

But its curator explained the artefacts are being preserved.

After being alerted by readers of the “missing” puppets, Twentytwo13 visited the museum on Aug 30 and noticed several puppets were not exhibited in the Wayang Kulit Kelantan and Wayang Kulit Jawa sections. There was a sign that read “Artefacts are temporarily released. We regret any inconvenience caused.”

“Kindly be informed that the previous artefacts that were exhibited are now in the conservation department as they are worn out. This is part of our museum’s procedure,” said curator Siti Munirah Kassim.

[Read more…]

ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar is compiled every week. All sources and credit belong to the original publishers and writers. Click here for past editions of Southeast Asia Radar.

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About the author(s)

Nabilah Said is an award-winning playwright, editor and cultural commentator. She is also an artist who works with text across various artforms and formats. Her plays have been staged in Singapore and London, including ANGKAT, which won Best Original Script at the 2020 Life Theatre Awards. Nabilah is the former editor of ArtsEquator.

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