Beyond Nation States
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In a world where borders are sacrosanct, questioning their existence might seem absurd, but that is precisely what this collection of artwork sets out to do. Presented by Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, "No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia", as the title suggests, evokes the concept of a culture without borders. Taking place at Asia Society Hong Kong Center, the exhibition comprises works of over 10 artists from Vietnam to Philippines, Cambodia and Pakistan.
"The intention is both to present the range of aesthetic developments and subjects of interest to contemporary artists, and to challenge the privileging of nation and national narrative as the basis for understanding aesthetic practices from different countries," states curator June Yap.
The exhibits centre around issues in the neighbourhood. If Bangladeshi artist Tayeba Begum Lipi has her Love Bed made of razor blades, symbolic of the violence in the region, Malaysian artist Vincent Leong's chromogenic print Keeping Up with the Abdullahs 1 assembles family members from two minority ethnicities in Malaysia, Chinese and Indian. Representing India is Mumbai-based Shilpa Gupta, who discusses the constant tension between India and Pakistan through her work. Her installation 1:14.9 has a hand-wound ball of thread accompanied by a small plaque reading "1188.5 Miles Of Fenced Border — West, North-West/Data Update: Dec 31, 2007." Culled from a publically available report by the Ministry of Home Affairs in India, the information about the fence between India and Pakistan seems as fragile as the thread that makes the egg-shaped ball, which perhaps also signifies the birth of the two nations on August 15, 1947.
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