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Article

Sarah Urist Green

(b Kabul, June 5, 1973).

Afghan video and performance artist and photographer, active also in the USA. After fleeing Soviet-occupied Kabul with her family in the late 1980s, Abdul lived as a refugee in Germany and India before moving to Southern California. She received a BA in Political Science and Philosophy at California State University, Fullerton, and an MFA at the University of California, Irvine, in 2000. Abdul first returned to a post-Taliban Afghanistan in 2001, where she encountered a place and people transformed by decades of violence and unrest. Since that time, Abdul has made work in Kabul and Los Angeles, staging herself in performances and creating performance-based video works and photography that explore ideas of home and the interconnection between architecture and identity.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Abdul made emotionally intense performance art informed by that of Yugoslavian artist Marina Abramović and Cuban-born American artist Ana Mendieta. At the time unable to travel to Afghanistan, Abdul created and documented performances in Los Angeles that probed her position as Afghan, female, Muslim, a refugee and a transnational artist. In ...

Article

Filipino, 20th century, male.

Born 1930, in Bohol, Philippines.

Sculptor. Figures, historical subjects, religious subjects, allegory, myths.

Napoleon Veloso Abueva graduated in 1953 from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts (UPCFA), where he was mentored by the first National Artist for Sculpture, Guillermo Tolentino. He received another scholarship from the Fulbright/Smith–Mundt Foundation and in ...

Article

Marcella Nesom-Sirhandi

(b Delhi, India, Feb 4, 1941; d Lahore, Pakistan, Jan 18, 1999).

Pakistani painter, sculptor and printmaker. Educated in Pakistan and abroad, he has consciously and successfully synthesized Eastern and Western aesthetic traditions. In 1963, a year after graduating from the National College of Arts, Lahore, he joined the faculty as a lecturer in art, later becoming a professor and head of the Department of Fine Arts. His studies abroad have included post-graduate work in London (1966–7, 1968–9) and the United States (1987–9).

Like many of his colleagues, Zahoor was influenced by his mentor, Shakir ‛Ali, principal of the National College of Art from 1961 to 1975. Both artists were motivated by art history, philosophy and aesthetics. Zahoor’s non-figurative paintings of the 1960s evolved into tangible—though not always realistic—images addressing the dualities of space and time, East and West. Most of his triptychs and single canvases were conceived within a grid that provides a stabilizing structure for their compositions. This grid refers to Zahoor’s admiration for the American artist ...

Article

Yasuko Furuichi

Alternative spaces have stimulated and disrupted bureaucratic and static environments that stem from situations unique to Asian countries. As opposed to the definition provided in the Euro-American model in which alternative spaces are positioned against the mainstream, alternative spaces in this discussion are a group of contemporary art spaces which can be loosely identified as artist-run and independent curator-run spaces that do not have direct support from the state and government bodies in general. These spaces provide exhibition venues for national and international artists, develop educational programmes, raise the profile of curatorial methods and publish art magazines. In addition, the staff of alternative spaces can provide foreign curators with the latest local information, whereas in the past, certain curators were able to monopolize negotiations between arts professionals and local artists. Some of these alternative spaces have since attained privileged positions that have also exposed them to criticism.

Since 2000 these alternative spaces, many of which are artist-run, have founded non-profit organizations and transformed their activities and organizational structures. Because these spaces are financially dependent on grants from foreign cultural institutions or their national governments, they have difficulty securing long-term funds and management. While the flexibility and agility of these organizations risks their survival, the priority is in creating a space for young artists and curators to pursue experimental activities, rather than maintaining the status quo or becoming part of the establishment. The activities particular to alternative spaces are not necessarily a counter movement against mainstream arts activities; they may be more accurately described as a means of survival for new art....

Article

Agung Hujatnikajennong

(b Bandung, May 21, 1961).

Indonesian installation, video and performance artist and writer. Arahmaiani graduated from the Fine Art Department of Bandung Institute of Technology in 1983 and then continued her studies at the Paddington Art School, Sydney (1985–6) before attending the Akademie voor Beeldende Kunst & Vormgeving (AKI), Enschede (1991–2). During the 1980s she was also part of a rebellious young artists’ movement in Indonesia.

Arahmaiani is known for her specific point of view in responding to the domination of academicism in the Indonesian art world, which became her departure point in developing Happenings and performance art during the early 1980s; a boom era of painting and commercialization that occurred as a result of the economic boosting under the Indonesian New Order regime. One of her most important works, Newspaper Man (1981), in which she wrapped her body in newspaper advertisements and walked through the streets and shopping malls of Bandung, stimulated a more vibrant practice and discourse on the use of human body as an art medium in Indonesian art. ...

Article

Miwako Tezuka

(b Manila, Aug 19, 1973).

American installation artist of Filipino birth. Arcega was born in Manila and immigrated to the USA when he was ten years old. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from San Francisco Art Institute and, in 2009, earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Stanford University, California. While Arcega has worked with a variety of media, including sculpture and installation, he mainly focuses on language and creates visual and linguistic puns and satires that expose various social and political conflicts and problems resulting from globalization.

A tongue-in-cheek approach as an effective conceptual strategy has been used by a number of artists since Marcel Duchamp. In Arcega’s case, however, it relates more closely to the “format of jokes” that plays on unintended cultural misunderstandings between native English speakers and those for whom English is a second language. Ultimately, Arcega’s humor exposes the dark side of reality with frequent references to political and social issues. His installation ...

Article

The concepts of internationalism and multiculturalism are fundamental factors in the emergence of Asian contemporary art. Multiculturalism and internationalism have been organizing principles for most international exhibitions since the 1990s, including the Venice Biennale and the São Paulo Biennial as well as the new exhibitions in Asia. Multiculturalism was adopted by nations such as Canada and Australia to promote cultural harmony amongst diverse immigrant groups. It is founded on the idea that all cultures have equal value. In the early 1990s the term gained popularity in the visual arts to describe the emergence of artists who belonged to different ethnic groups. Also the term acknowledges a time of increased mobility, when many artists hold multiple ethnic identities and have homes in multiple geographical locations.

This trend began with the magnificent exhibition, Magiciens de la Terre, held at the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris in ...

Article

East Asian, South Asian and South-east Asian women artists have made a unique contribution to contemporary art by incorporating culturally specific traditions drawn from sacred and secular aspects of art history and daily life—from altars to painting to domestic design—with traditional materials and new media such as video and digital imaging (see fig.). This artwork accesses the myriad of customs and languages that make up the region, with spirituality playing a larger role than in many other regions in the world. Artists often include elements in their work that display an identification with both Eastern and Western traditions and exhibit a balance between cultural differentiation and hybridity. Their explorations have often been aided by modern concepts of the female self, aided by feminist theory.

While some women work with narratives from the past, others negotiate new identities through the use of technologies such as iPods, camera videos and mini-TVs, which have taken particularly strong root in urban Asia. These polar references to the old and the new are often harnessed into a combined visual language that expresses modern life for women living in societies experiencing dramatic changes brought on by post-modernity. While gender and sexual identity have always been assumed important issues in women’s art, the blurring of boundaries in cultural roles has expanded possibilities for women artists even where general societal discrimination persists. The feminism that emerged in the USA and Europe in the 1970s has penetrated academic and artistic circles throughout Asia in an uneven pattern of influence. (The earliest generation of Western feminist art began with an exploration of the female body in relationship to societal norms.) Serious consideration, if not complete acceptance, of these new perspectives introduced Asian women to new conceptual and political frameworks, which were often overlaid onto such established images as female deities, ritual practices and strong role models from recent social history. In India and other post-colonial countries, women’s rights had been included in the paradigms of modern mid-20th century independence movements, laying the groundwork for regional interpretations of women’s experience....

Article

Asian modern and contemporary art is a discursive field because of its potential critique of existing art historical concepts, structures of knowledge and curatorial categories. It is not just the art of a discrete geographical zone, nor simply one which developed through a series of chronological successions. In the past Asia was assimilated under the term ‘Eastern’ as the antithesis of ‘Western’, which meant that ‘Asian’ never escaped being a projection of the ‘Western’. Thus the difficulty in understanding Asian modern and contemporary art is in reconstructing Asia as an intellectual concept, not as a naturalized reflection of Europe, nor as a set of Orientalist projections. The emergence of Asian modern and contemporary art has redefined modernity in Western art, and the need for such redefinition may account for the exclusion of Asian modern and contemporary art from serious consideration in the West until the 1990s.

Asian modern and contemporary art should not be seen as the product of positions adopted in the European and American metropolises by migrant artistic and intellectual communities. Art in many Asian cultures was potentially modern before the political and economic interpositions of 19th-century European and American colonialism. This art was also subject to the forces unleashed by the transfer of academic realism and later stylistic transformations (see Clark, ...

Article

Michael Jay McClure

(b Istanbul, 1961).

Turkish video and installation artist, active also in England and Pakistan. He was educated at Mimar Sinan University, the Sorbonne, Paris, Los Angeles Santa Monica College, and the University of California, Los Angeles (MFA, 1988). Ataman holds a prominent place among artists exploring identity, sexuality, documentation, and the cultural politics of the Middle East and its diasporas; his work echoes that of Shirin Neshat, Omer Fast, Mona Hatoum, and the more commercial filmmaker Fatih Akin, among others.

Producing multi-channel ‘video sculptures’, Ataman explores states of psychological, cultural, and social displacement, often employing massive amounts of footage in a quasi-documentary style. An early piece, Women Who Wear Wigs (1999; see images tab for additional illustration), is a representative example. On a four-channel display, four Turkish women reveal their reasons for donning wigs: a reporter who recently lost her hair due to chemotherapy, a transsexual prostitute forced to shave her head by the police, a targeted terrorist who disguises herself, and a student banned from wearing a traditional headscarf in school. The wig, which conceals and connects these women, parallels how Ataman uses video: as a medium that both reveals and obfuscates its subjects. A spectator must negotiate not only the truth of the stories but also their syncopated broadcasts distributed over the space of the exhibition. Indeed, Ataman often uses the situation of the screens to disorienting sculptural effect. In ...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Mbarara, 1963).

Ugandan photographer, film maker, and installation artist of Indian descent, active in the UK. Bhimji was born in Uganda to Indian parents. The family fled Uganda to England in 1972 due to President Idi Amin’s expulsion of all Asians and Asian-Ugandans from the country along with seizure of their property and businesses as part of his ‘economic war’ on Asia. Bhimji studied art at Goldsmiths College and the Slade School of Art in London and her photographic work primarily consists of close-up, sometimes abstracted glimpses of seemingly abandoned spaces, objects, and landscapes. Bhimji’s work focuses on India and Uganda, which are treated as almost anthropomorphic subjects that appear restless, unfinished, abandoned, or frozen in her photographs, films, and film stills. Bhimji was one of four shortlisted finalists for the Turner Prize in 2007, and her work has been exhibited alongside such artists as El Anatsui, António Olé, Yinka Shonibare, and ...

Article

Eleanor Heartney

(b Bangkok, Feb 25, 1953; d Bangkok, Aug 25, 2000).

Thai sculptor and installation artist. Boonma studied at the Poh Chang Arts and Crafts School, Bangkok (1971–3) and went on to study painting at Silpakorn University, Bangkok (1974–8). He became a Buddhist monk in 1986 and his work explores a distinctively Buddhist art language. His early work dealt with environmental issues that came out of his concerns about the effects of industrialization on rural Thailand. Increasingly his work became involved with issues of illness and death as his own health faltered. He subtly melded natural forms, Buddhist architecture and ritual objects with a minimalist sense of structure inspired by his study of Western art. He fashioned sculptural objects based on Buddhist alms bowls, ‘painted’ with healing herbs and created walls and enclosures from stacks of hundreds of ceramic temple bells.

From 1991 Boonma’s wife struggled with breast cancer, until she succumbed in 1994. During this period the pair turned to both Western and Eastern tools to battle her disease, alternating chemotherapy with visits to shrines and offerings to propitious spirits. In ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Lahore, 1962; d London, Sept 1994).

British sculptor of Pakistani birth. He studied at Goldsmiths College, London (1987–90). After initially working in a wide variety of media, Butt settled exclusively on installations in the late 1980s. Because of his early death little of his work has become widely known, but that which has demonstrates by an interest in alchemy and a thematic preoccupation with seduction, pleasure and danger. Transmission (1990; see 1995 exh. cat., p. 65) comprises a circle of objects that look like open books, resting on the floor. The glass pages reveal a triffid motif that is lit by dangerous ultra-violet light. The series Familiars includes some of his best-known work and is concerned with the dichotomy between physical impurity and divine grace. It also derives from his interest in chemical properties, each of the three parts employing a different member of the chemical family of halogens: Substance Sublimation Unit (1992; see 1995 exh. cat., pp. 72–3) employs iodine confined in tubes set up in a ladder formation (the form was inspired by the mythical Santa Scala, or Holy Ladder of Perfection); ...

Article

Indonesian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1948.

Painter, pastellist. Figures, portraits, genre scenes.

A very precocious artist, Dzulkifki Buyong was discovered and trained by Patrick Ng Kah Onn, and was a member of the Wednesday Art Group , an association of avant-garde artists in the 1960s....

Article

Filipino, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1942, in Malabon, Manila, Philippines.

Painter, printmaker, illustrator. Figures, portraits.

Baguio Arts Guild.

Bencab started drawing at the age of seven and was influenced by his older brother Salvador, an artist. He later studied at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts and worked for several publications as an illustrator and layout artist. In ...

Article

Filipino, 20th century, male.

Born 1937, in Sampaloc, Manila, Philippines; died 13 April 2013.

Painter, conceptual artist.

Roberto Chabet studied architecture at the University of Santo Tomas and graduated in 1961, the year he held his first solo exhibition, at the Luz Gallery. He achieved early critical success when he won first prize for his painting ...

Article

Indonesian, 20th–21st century, male.

Born 1959.

Painter. Flowers.

Chen Kezhan, an artist from either Indonesia or Singapore, trained in traditional painting and calligraphy with Fan Chang Tien, Chao Shao-an, and Fung Kang-ho. In Paris he studied art and music. His work is inspired by Expressionism and the Abstract painting of modern Chinese masters such as Zhang Daquian, Shi Lu, and Lu Shokun. Chen Kezhan is particularly noted for his nature-inspired work with Chinese ink. He has held over a dozen solo exhibitions in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia, USA, and Europe. He was awarded a silver medal at the Salon des Artistes Français (...

Article

Miwako Tezuka

(b Kien Giang, Vietnam, Oct 9, 1977).

American photographer of Vietnamese birth. Danh’s family fled Vietnam as refugees when he was two years old and eventually immigrated to the USA in the early 1980s. In 2004 he received Master of Fine Arts from Stanford University, California. Danh worked with photography to excavate, revive, and preserve forgotten stories in history, particularly those of manmade atrocities such as the Vietnam War.

Photographic images of disasters, tragedies and figures associated with them have also been the focus of works by such artists as Andy Warhol and Christian Boltanski. Both of these artists use the power of photography to arrest the moment that triggers affective interpretation of pain and sorrow of the subjects of their work. However, Danh’s scientific experiments regarding the process of photography led him to develop a technique that he called “chlorophyll printing.” Danh took photographs found in old magazines and historical archives, created negatives out of them, placed them over still-growing plant leaves and then exposed them to sunlight (for several days or weeks) in order to activate photosynthesis. As the leaf gradually changes color, parts that are not blocked from the sunlight by the overlying negatives remain leafy green, causing an image to emerge in shapes of what had been captured in the original photographs. The leaf can then be encased in resin to preserve the image. For example, in his series ...

Article

Donna Stein

(b Hollywood, CA, June 21, 1941).

American photographer, educator, and author. She attended the University of California Los Angeles (1959–62), where she studied drawing and painting. She completed her education at San Francisco State University (BA 1963, MA 1966) where she studied with Jack Welpott (1923–2007), whom she married (1971–7). Dater’s perceptive portraits of women and men and challenging photographs of the nude secured her international reputation.

Her earliest self-portraits date from 1963, using her own image to consider issues of gender, sexuality and the female role in society as well as the hidden side of herself. In 1980, she took the first of 10 trips throughout the Southwest, creating a series of black-and-white self-portraits in the landscape. She also photographed herself in color creating staged tableaus, not unlike Cindy Sherman’s fictional archetypes that satirize iconic roles thrust upon women by society.

Dater has explored the interpretive portrait genre from the beginning of her career to the present. Living and working in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco during the 1960s, she was stimulated by feminism and other counter-culture movements (...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Nairobi, 1958).

Kenyan photographer, multimedia and performance artist, and teacher of Indian descent, active in the USA. DeSouza was born in Kenya to Indian parents. Raised in London from the age of 7, he called his background that of a ‘double colonial history’. DeSouza attended Goldsmiths College in London and the Bath Academy of Art, and although he has worked primarily in photography and as a writer on contemporary art, he has also branched out into performance art, digital painting, and textual and mixed media arts. He moved to the USA in 1992 and in 2012 became of Head of Photography at the University of California, Berkeley.

The primary themes in deSouza’s work are those of colonial encounter, seen in Indigena/Assimilado (1998), a photographic series of migrant workers in Los Angeles; migration, as explored in Threshold (1996–8), his early photographic series of airports empty of people; exile, which he explored in ...