Last Thursday night, the New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore-based Sundaram Tagore gallery presented the exhibition REV/ ACTION: Contemporary Art in South East Asia, showcasing ten artists from the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The exhibition took over a year to realize and had almost 100% commissioned pieces. Curator Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani encouraged each artist to reflect upon their individual, cultural, and political impacts, a process she calls the “renegotiation of histories.”
Mit Jai Inn, an artist from Thailand, reinterpreted Thailand’s national flag by adding the color green to represent the military.
Leang Seckon, an artist from Cambodia, was inspired by a lost sculptural piece from an old temple that had been donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and then in recent years returned to Cambodia. This cross-national exchange of cultural history is expressed in his paintings that depict America’s place in the Cambodian Civil War through mythological statues.
Kim Hak, a Cambodian photographer, captured everyday objects that were hidden or abandoned during the devastating Khmer Rouge Regime (1975-1979). From the traditional Cambodian plaid woven scarves, to grains of rices to personal notebooks, every piece holds a lens up to a fuller history.
Norberto Roldan, a Filipino artist whose work was also shown during the monumental Asian art exhibition, No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia at the Guggenheim Museum in 2013, shows a large installation that investigates the religious crusades in the Philippines in the 16th century.
REV/ACTION traverses the cultural differences between each artist and their country, but as stated in the exhibition’s catalogue, what unites them all is “a sense of urgency in re-examining social and political developments in their countries and their impact on cultural identity.” The result is a multimedia group show of emerging and established artists that provides an holistic introduction and educational launchpad into exploring Southeast Asian contemporary art.
REV/ ACTION: Contemporary Art in South East Asia is up until November 14, 2015 at Sundaram Tagore Gallery in New York.