Each year, the Sydney Asian Art Series gathers leading international voices on critical issues in early, modern and contemporary Asian art.
In 2021, series convenor Olivier Krischer has assembled four of the field’s leading scholars to consider the question of art, environment, and eco-political flows: Patrick Flores (University of Philippines/Vargas Museum, Manila), Furuhata Yuriko (McGill University), Sugata Ray (UC Berkeley) and Wu Mali (National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan).
(More events will be added throughout the year.)
Patrick Flores | Nature is Material, Site is Work: Philippine Artist Junyee’s Installations
Professor of Art Studies at the University of the Philippines
Thursday, 1 April 2021
Patrick Flores | In conversation with Phaptawan Suwannakudt (Sydney) and Samak Kosem (Thailand)
Thursday, 8 April 2021
Furuhata Yuriko | Plastics on Spaceship Earth: The Ecological Dilemma of Metabolist Architecture
Associate Professor at McGill University, Montreal
Thursday, 6 May 2021
Furuhata Yuriko | “Atmospheric Media and Environmental Art”
Associate Professor at McGill University, Montreal
Thursday, 13 May 2021
SAAS Scholars 2021
Patrick Flores is Professor of Art Studies at the Department of Art Studies at the University of the Philippines, which he chaired from 1997 to 2003, and Curator of the Vargas Museum in Manila. He is the Director of the Philippine Contemporary Art Network. Among his publications are Painting History: Revisions in Philippine Colonial Art (1999); Remarkable Collection: Art, History, and the National Museum (2006); and Past Peripheral: Curation in Southeast Asia (2008). He was the Artistic Director of Singapore Biennale 2019 and is the Curator of the Taiwan Pavilion for Venice Biennale in 2022. Photo: Czar Kristoff.
Yuriko Furuhata is Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar of Cinema and Media History in East Asian Studies and an associate member of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. Her first book, Cinema of Actuality: Japanese Avant-Garde Filmmaking in the Season of Image Politics (Duke University Press, 2013), won the Best First Book Award from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies. Her second book, entitled Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control (Duke University Press, 2022) examines geopolitical connections across environmental art, weather control, digital computing, and cybernetic architecture in Japan and the United States. She is currently working on a new book project, titled Enchanted Consultation, which explores the cultural techniques of divination as media.
Sugata Ray is Associate Professor of South and Southeast Asian art in the Departments of History of Art and South & Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. His research and writing focuses on climate change and the visual arts from the 1500s onwards. Ray is the author of Climate Change and the Art of Devotion: Geoaesthetics in the Land of Krishna, 1550–1850 (2019; winner of the American Academy of Religion’s Religion and the Arts Book Award) and co-editor of Ecologies, Aesthetics, and Histories of Art (forthcoming) and Water Histories of South Asia: The Materiality of Liquescence (2020). He is currently writing a book on Indian Ocean art histories in the age of Anthropocene extinction.
Wu Mali is an artist, writer and curator, and is Associate Professor at the National Kaohsiung Normal University in Taiwan. As artist and curator, she is considered one of the founding figures of socially engaged art in Taiwan, and is the Chinese translator of publications such as Suzanne Lacy’s Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art (1995) and Grant Kester’s Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art (2004). (Photo: Wu Yi-Ping)
Olivier Krischer (Series Convenor) is an art historian and curator, is currently the Deputy Director of the China Studies Centre and an Honorary Associate in the Department of Art History, at the University of Sydney. He is the editor and co-editor of Shades of Green: Notes on China’s Eco-civilisation (Made in China, 2020), Zhang Peili: from Painting to Video (ANU Press, 2019), ‘Asian Art Research in Australia and New Zealand: Past, Present and Future’, a special issue of Australia & New Zealand Journal of Art (Taylor & Francis, 2016), and Asia through Art and Anthropology (Bloomsbury, 2013).
About the Series
In Australia, environmental politics is often framed as a national drama: a struggle between the vested interests of government and corporate actors, and popular advocacy for a more sustainable future. Yet, as the 2019 bushfires and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic make tangible, our environmental present, like its future, has little concern for national borders or imaginaries. It is indelibly shaped by flows of water, air and earth, forces which are not only ‘natural’ but contend with the interests of those who seek to exploit them, as well as communities who look to craft sustainable lives within them.
In 2021 the Sydney Asian Art Series invites four ‘SAAS scholars’ – active in art history, curation and practice – to share their work at the intersections of art and environment in Asia. The series asks: How have creative practices represented, interpreted and shaped natural environments and their elements? What does it mean to think of this region as a network of intimate eco-political flows? What can we learn, for example, from an art history of oceans rather than nations? What alternative spaces, what new myths or futures, do art cultures and their histories make thinkable in the face of ecological crises?
The series is co-presented by the University of Sydney’s China Studies Centre, The Power Institute, and VisAsia, with support from the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Past Series Recordings
The 2020 theme was “Art and Technology”.
Speakers included Lisa Claypool (University of Alberta, Edmonton), Raahab Allana (Alkazi Foundation of the Arts, New Delhi), Yung Ma (Artistic Director, Seoul Mediacity Bieannale 2021) and Yu-chih Lai (Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan).
The 2019 theme was “Art and Urban Cultures”.
The 2018 theme was “Uncertain Objects: Trajectories of Asian Art”.