Islands and Archipelagos: Mapping Contemporary Art from Australia, Asia and the Pacific

A talk by Francis Maravillas

Wednesday, 12 May, 12-2, TfC Bagel, UTS Building 3, Room 4.02.

Abstract: In its six iterations since 1993, the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art has established itself as the premier ‘international exhibition’ that focuses on the diverse artistic cultures of the region. Significantly, these Triennials also offered a powerful and proleptic image of Australia’s place in the region, one that accented Australia’s desire for such a place. This paper seeks bring into relief the cartographic dispositions and representational logic underlying the Asia-Pacific Triennial’s curatorial imaginary. I argue that the curatorial agency and imaginary of the Triennial is constituted by the way it positions itself within wider cultural, geographical, and epistemic frames of reference. From this perspective, the Triennial’s engagement with the contemporary artistic cultures of ‘Asia’ and ‘the Pacific’ represents an attempt by the Australian subject to come to terms with its decentred positionality – that is, its peculiar experience of being located ‘South of the West’– by re-positioning itself, via strategic alignments along the periphery, as a cultural-artistic centre in the region, the putative centricity of which is defined by the space of invisible liminality marked by the hyphen that connects ‘Asia’ and the ‘Pacific’. 

Francis Maravillas completed his PhD in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney, where he teaches cultural studies. His current research interests include contemporary art and visual culture in Asia and Australia, curatorial practice and international art exhibitions. His work on Asian art in Australia appears in various journals as well as recent edited collections including Crossing cultures: conflict, migration and convergence (2009), Cosmopatriots: On Distant Belongings and Close Encounters (2007) and In the Eye of the Beholder Reception and Audience for Modern Asian Art (2006). He was previously a board member of the Asia Australia Art Centre (Gallery 4a) Sydney (2003-2006).

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