• ARCHIVING WOMANIFESTO: An International Art Exchange, 1990s - Present.

    19 October to 9 November 2019

Archiving Womanifesto: An International Art Exchange, 1990s – Present

Curators: Varsha Nair, Nitaya Ueareeworakul, Phaptawan Suwannakudt

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Symposium: Gender i Southeast Asian Art Histories II: Art, Digitality and Canon-making?

18 October 2019, 9am – 6pm
New Law School Foyer, University of Sydney

Symposium 18 October 2019, 9am – 6pm, University of Sydney

Keynote speaker: Prof Flaudette May Datuin, University of the Philippines

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Archiving Womanifesto: An International Art Exchange, 1990s – Present

Roundtable: 19 October 2019 at 1pm, The Cross Art Projects

Roundtable chair: Prof Flaudette May Datuin, University of the Philippines

Exhibition Opening: 19 October at 3pm

Guest Speaker: Rachel Kent, Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art

Exhibition runs 19 October to 16 November 2019

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Archiving Womanifesto: Closing Event: Saturday November 16, 2pm

2.00PM Curator’s talk by Varsha Nair, Womanifesto Archive

2.30-3.30PM ‘Coming together: Collective actions and future feminist archives’
An open forum moderated by Dr Catriona Moore, University of Sydney

The work of local, regional and transnational artist collectives and curatorial actions feed growing archives, of which the Womanifesto project is an important example. Practical questions of archival retrieval and currency will focus our discussion.

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Exhibition Outline: Archiving Womanifesto:

In 1995 an informal gathering of women artists, writers and activists in Bangkok put together a feminist art exhibition, Tradisexion. Calling themselves Womanifesto, this collective went on to organize biennale events that aimed to increase women’s visibility. It was the first feminist collective of its kind in the region, seeking to strengthen links between women artists regionally and internationally. Among its many projects include art residencies held in rural Thailand and online curations in cyberspace. Archiving Womanifesto presents this history, with issues raised to be discussed in an open symposium. 

The Power Institute, together with the School of Literature, Arts and Media and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney, presents the symposium Art, Digitality and Canon-making?’ as part of the Gender in Southeast Asian Art Histories project. This symposium continues conversations first initiated in Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok in April this year entitled 'Art, Design and Canon-making?'. By harnessing the potential of digital tools and methodologies in academic research and digital humanities, the symposium aspires to form a bridge between tools and ideas in the hope of providing a platform for the presentation of new research on gender broadly, and for the rethinking of frameworks, approaches and methodologies in the writing of feminist and area art histories.

Attempts to scrutinise and challenge canon-making processes from feminist perspectives are often characterised as “re-telling a compensatory history”, in the words of Flaudette May Datuin (University of the Phillipines). Considering each of the various activities involved in feminist art historical work among others, papers presented at this symposium will move from thinking with the questions of researching and writing, to questions of making and using archives, as well as approaching and interpreting information, art, and their absences. This symposium offers the opportunity to explore the potential of digital approaches in discourses of gender in Southeast Asian art histories as well as to come to terms with the critical and scholarly issues that may arise.

The exhibition Archiving Womanifesto will then shift attention to art and artists, and their own agential role in constructing and resisting the canon, including their use of digital tools.

Join us for both the symposium and exhibition opening, for two days of exciting presentations, conversations and artworks.

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Archiving Womanifesto: Closing Event: Saturday November 16, 2pm
 
2.00PM Curator’s talk by Varsha Nair, Womanifesto Archive

2.30-3.30PM ‘Coming together: Collective actions and future feminist archives’
An open forum moderated by Dr Catriona Moore, University of Sydney

Coming together: Collective actions and future feminist archives

The work of local, regional and transnational artist collectives and curatorial actions feed growing archives, of which the Womanifesto project is an important example. Practical questions of archival retrieval and currency will focus our discussion.

The Archiving Womanifesto exhibition indicates how artists, curators and scholars enliven archival voices to help us understand the art of our times. Collectives produce archives, and in turn, archives might produce collectives, or models for future collectivity. Archiving is an active verb, and feminist archives are not inert collections but may also propel future-oriented feminist models. This closing discussion offers an opportunity to ask whether the evolving Womanifesto ‘workshop and exhibition’ model has been pioneered or tested elsewhere, or whether specific collective platforms are best developed to suit local needs.

There is much to share about past, present and future feminist art collectives in the region. As Womanifesto begins a new chapter, its rich archives are being digitalised by the Asia Art Archive. This brings to mind other feminist collectives that emerged in the pre-digital era; their archival material unfortunately still scattered and endangered.  

The Womanifesto archives help us rethink nation-centric (and region-centric) narratives, by bringing to the fore the material memories of participating women artists from around the world, including Australia. What of the future of the Womanifesto archives and related SE Asian ventures, of feminist-driven archival projects in Australia (the ‘Women’s Art Register’, ‘future feminist archive’), among others)?

Do more marginalised contemporary feminist collectives and archives that are currently emerging in the region address the status quo with more imaginative and reflexive thinking?  We note here the feminist approaches possibly guiding the development of the Indonesia Visual Art Archive, National Gallery of Singapore archives and Malaysia Design Archive, and smaller archival holdings surfacing through feminist curatorial practice, such as Judy Freya Sibayan's archive, recently exhibited in artwork form, the Kasibulan archives, as well as the Fifth Passage archive currently being digitised by Chu Chu Yuan for the Singapore Art Museum, amongst other ventures). In Sydney many look to the AGNSW artists archives as an important repository for a wealth of pre-digital material.

How can we enable conversations between these collective histories in a period of increasing national and regional gatekeeping? These practical considerations form the preconditions for global feminist art and art history. We welcome your ideas!

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Workshop group

Womanifesto 2001 Workshop group

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Residency Workshop, Mahasarakam Uni students

2008 Womanifesto Residency Workshop | Mahasarakam Uni students

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Workshop group

Womanifesto 2019. Installation view at The Cross Art Projects.

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019.

Womanifesto 2019. Installation view at The Cross Art Projects.

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Artwork by Phaptawan Suwannakudt

Phaptawan Suwannakudt, Nariphon 3a, 1996, acrylic on silk, 90 x 90 cm. Courtesy Kenneth and Beverley Carruthers Photo Cantra Clark.

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Artwork by Pan Parahom

Pan Parahom, Embroidered Stories, embroidery on hand dyed and woven cloth panels, Womanifesto Residency 2008

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Workshop group

Womanifesto Archive 2019. Installation view at The Cross Art Projects.

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019.

Womanifesto 2019. Installation view at The Cross Art Projects.

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Workshop group

Womanifesto Timeline, installation view Womanifesto 2019. at The Cross Art Projects.

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019.

Nitaya Urareeworakul, Flowering Body 12, 2008. Used Fabric collage on canvas, 120 x 100cm. Womanifesto 2019  at The Cross Art Projects.

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Workshop group

Liliane Zumkemi, The Peace Audition, 2008. Video, 3min 20secs; Varsha Nair video compilation: Lullaby for a Storm, 2008, 4min 30s; Varsha Nair interviewed by Lena Eriksson at Womanifesto Residency 2008, 2min 56s; Womanifesto Workshop 2001 footage, video 16min 58s (videos on Rotation. Installation view 2019 at The Cross Art Projects.

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Artwork by Phaptawan Suwannakudt

Opening at The Cross Art Projects. Photo by Zihan Chen

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Artwork by Pan Parahom

Roundtable at The Cross Art Projects. Photo by Zihan Chen

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Artwork by Phaptawan Suwannakudt

Roundtable chair: Prof Flaudette May Datuin, University of the Philippines. Roundtable  at The Cross Art Projects. Photo by Zihan Chen

Art Exhibition at The Cross Art Projects. Womanifesto, 2019. Artwork by Pan Parahom

Opening by Rachel Kent, Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, introduced by Roger Nelson, Singapore Art Museum. The Cross Art Projects. Photo by Zihan Chen

Organizers

Dr Yvonne Low, University of Sydney
Dr Catriona Moore, University of Sydney
Dr Roger Nelson, National Gallery Singapore
Dr Clare Veal, LASALLE School of the Arts

Symposium Participants

Dr Siobhan Campbell, University of Sydney
Prof Flaudette May Datuin, University of the Philippines
Dr Wulan Dirgantoro, University of Melbourne
Greg Doyle, University of Sydney
Dr Jaya Jacobo, University of the Philippines
Varsha Nair, Womanifesto
Phaptawan Suwannakudt, Womanifesto
Nitaya Ueareeworakul, Womanifesto
Wong Bing Hao, Independent scholar
Michelle Wong, Asia Art Archive

About the exhibition curators

Varsha Nair was born in Kampala, Uganda, and studied at Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayaji Rao University, Baroda, India. Inviting multidisciplinary collaborations her work encompasses various approaches and genres. Co organizer of Womanifesto – an international art exchange in Thailand, she has also exhibited internationally including at Chulalongkorn University Art Centre (Bangkok), Khoj International Artists Association (New Delhi), Tate Modern (London), Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt (Berlin), Art in General (New York), Lodypop (Basel). She has published her writings in various art journals such as n paradoxa, Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia, Art AsiaPacific, SPAFA Journal and Ctrl+P Journal of Contemporary Art of which she is Editorial Board member. Nair is currently invited by Hochschule Luzern, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, as guest lecturer for their Masters Dialogue programme and to mentor Masters students. She had lived in Bangkok since 1995 and has recently moved to reside in her hometown of Baroda in India.
 
Nitaya Ueareeworakul
was born in 1966 in Udonthani, Thailand, and studied Fine Arts at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Her paintings and mix media installations from personal experiences and focus on women’s emotional issues and social responsibility. From 1996-2000 Nitaya had been invited to International workshop, Artist’s Exchange, Exhibition & residency program in Australia, France, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Austria, India, Vietnam & Kenya. She founded and managed Studio Xang, a gallery and children’s art workshop space in Bangkok from 1994 – 2000.  Co- founder and co-organizer of Womanifesto since 1995, Nitaya is a single mother with two children and now lives in Ubonratchathani, Thailand.
 
Phaptawan Suwannakudt
was born in Thailand, 1959 and trained as a mural painter with her late father Paiboon Suwannakudt and led a team of painters that worked in Buddhist temples throughout Thailand during the 1980s-1990s. She relocated to Australia in 1996 and completed MVA degree at Sydney College of the Arts. She has exhibited extensively in Australia, Thailand and internationally. Her recent installation work, Knowledge in your Hands Eyes and Mind, in Beyond Bliss the Inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale, (2018-9), is reconstructed as part of Asia TOPA January March 2020 Arts Centre Melbourne. Selected exhibitions include Traces of Words: Art and Calligraphy from Asia, Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver (2017), Retold-Untold Stories, Chiang Mai (2014) and Sydney (2016), Thresholds: Contemporary Thai Art, New York (2013) and the18th Biennale of Sydney: All Our Relations (2012). Open Letter, a touring exhibition across South East Asian countries, (2005-2006), El Poder de Narrar, Espai d’art Contemporani de Castelló, Valenciana, (2000), Women imaging women: home, body, memory, Cultural Centre of the Philippines, Manila 1998. Phaptawan is a recipient of the NAVA artist grant (2010 and 2013), a grant from Office of Contemporary Art, Ministry Culture of Thailand (2012), Asialink arts residency program (2014) and the Australia Council grant (2001 and 2011, 2018). Her works are in public collections including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Art Gallery of Thailand, Art Bank Sydney, and Rama 9 Art Collection, Bangkok. 

About the artists' works on exhibition

Mae Pan Parahom (b.1939 - 2014). She and her husband worked and built up Boon Bandarn Farm together. She enjoyed going to the temple to make merit. She was innovative and never stopped learning.When free from work on the farm she experimented with using natural tree barks to dye cotton and silk yarn. She wove the yarn and made Mudmee patterns which are traditional to the North-East Region of Thailand. She made clothes by hand from the fabric she had woven and dyed, and she embroidered them. Mae Pan was a talented artist of many skills and much knowledge. Mae Pan’s work in this exhibition are a series of custom-made curtains of various sizes.They feature hand-embroidery on naturaldyed cotton to tell stories inspired by nature and the surroundings of the farm.

Liliane Zumkemi (b. 1971) Artist statement: The Peace Audition is a video depicting snails with the peace symbol on their shells starting their move in Thailand.The soundtrack Khon klai barn 1 by Caravan was chosen with the helpful advice of the habitants of the first Womanifesto residency in 2008 at the Boonbandarn Farm, Si Saket Province.”... "Listing to the army helicopters circling around the temple complex of Preah Vihear and the TV broadcast by the PAD many hours a day, the artwork developed itself. Born in the Swiss mountains, Zumkemi completed her art studies at the Ecole Cantonale des Beaux-Arts in Sion and Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst in Lucerne. Her works were selected for the 2008 Busan Biennale in South Korea and for the 2005 Tsunami memorial exhibition in Phuket. Her exhibitions are documented in the lexicon on art in Switzerland (Sikart) and Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.Currently she lives and works in Basel and Alpjen. www.zumkemi.net

Varsha Nair (b. 1957). Artist statement: “As a political rally by PAD party being held in Bangkok to oust the government in power is being watched on TV by the elders of the farm in a remote north eastern part of
Thailand, the growing unrest in the country starts to impact on daily life.Two worlds – the personal and the political, the urban and the rural collide. ... a lullaby is sung by Nitaya to soothe little Jumong to sleep.” – Boon Bandarn farm, North East Thailand, November 2008.

Nitaya Ueareeworakul (b. 1966) Artist statement: “I had a newborn baby, my second child, while I took responsibility as one of the organisers at WomanifestoResidency 2008. It was a happy time which marked the
beginning of a new life.Women and flowers relate to fertilities, buddings and growth which describe the feeling of motherhood. I use maternity and family clothes as materials for this work.”

Phaptawan Suwannakudt (b. 1959). Artist statement: The Nariphon series of paintings depict the nariphon tree and relate to a twelve-year-old girl whom I met when I was working on a mural project at Phayao, a province in the North of Thailand, during 1990 – 1991. She was sold by her own parents, noodle stall owners, to a brothel agent for 3,000 baht (US $120).The price was discussed by the parents in comparison with that they had received for other goods which they sold in the market.The works tell that the girls are nariphon fruits which have been borne from trees nurtured by these age-old Thai beliefs. The nariphon figure is a girl-fruit in the Himaphan Forest which lures some hermits who have not yet attained the final stage of anchorite. These girl-fruits have a limited lifetime and become rotten after a short while. The figures of the nariphon are mostly
seen on Thamma cabinets (for keeping the scriptures) of the Early Rattanakosin period and have never been found as male figure.
Source: Settamant Kanjanakul, Sensaay laay Thai (Thai Pattern and Ornament), 1993, p.152 (in Thai, my translation) – Phaptawan Suwannakudt, January 1997

Links & Downloads

Phaptawan Suwannakudt at www.phaptawansuwannakudt.com  / Womanifesto website http://www.womanifesto.com

Womanifesto, Short Opening Speech, Rachel Kent, 19 October 2019 > Download as pdf

Southeast of Now. Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia, NUS Press,Singapore. 
Volume 3, Number 1, March 2019.

Editorial: Gender in Southeast Asian Art Histories by Yvonne Low, Roger Nelson, Clare Veal

Article: Interrogating the Feminine in Indonesian Modern and Contemporary Art by Wulan Dirgantoro

Archives Womanifesto byVarsha Nair

Before Womanifesto, In My Recollection by Phaptawan Suwannakudt

Tradisexion (1995)

Closing Event: Archiving Womanifesto, Flier > Download as pdf

Acknowledgements

This symposium is supported by the Power Institute together with the School of Literature, Arts and Media and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. The organisers gratefully acknowledge the partnership of The Cross Art Projects for the Womanifesto archive exhibition, and the support of Asia Art Archive and John Cruthers and Professor Elaine Baker. Thank you to Zihan Chen, Belle Blau, Simon Blau, Jo Holder, Philip Boulten and Suzi Gilligan at The Cross Art Projects.

We acknowledge and respect all Traditional Owners & Custodians on whose Lands we live, work and travel through.