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De-Oriented exhibition

Co-organiser and curator

April, 2022

De-Oriented features the work of an inspiring roster of 16 Southeast Asian artists living in London. Artists are cross-generational in scope and work across a myriad of material-based practices, exploring important issues such as climate emergencies, gender roles, cultural identities, regionalism, and its borders within the Southeast Asian context.

The title, “De-Oriented”, focuses on challenging common misconceptions of Southeast Asian countries and cultures, where the image of white palm-lined beaches often masks the tumultuous political and social reality, the exhibition will aim to draw attention to stigmas around Southeast Asian cultures. Today, Southeast Asian nations are on the frontline of the climate emergency, facing political unrest and outdated gender roles. They are also, however, a place where so many call home. 

The exhibition takes place in Ugly Duck’s building on Tanner Street before it is demolished and turned into offices. This is reflective of regeneration projects within Southeast Asia, as major residential developments continue to displace the natural environment. 

Many Southeast Asian nations are currently on the front line of rapid industrialisation, which both negatively impacts the environment and biodiversity, pollutes waters, land and air, and displaces once rural and semi-rural populations. Yet, the exhibition also shows works that expose and challenge gender stereotypes. This gender divide is deeply rooted in Southeast Asian cultures, where, almost all Southeast Asian men surveyed held outdated ideas of gender roles around family and housework.

Throughout the exhibition, these issues appear to haunt the figures that inhabit each artwork. Using various mediums through a light hearted and humorous lens, the exhibition will pull the viewer out of a logical and common world, and place them, instead, an alternate reality, one that mixes painterly qualities with surrealism and fantasy. While the central figures in artists’ body of works are imaginary, their narratives are not fictional. 

The issues highlighted within the exhibition as the ultimate vision for De-Oriented is to raise awareness of misconceptions around Southeast Asia, where it is seen in the west simply as a beautiful tourist destination rather than an actual region with tumultuous political and social reality, as well as complex differentials between specific nations.

With flexibility, ingenuity and resourcefulness, De-Oriented aims to assemble and exhibit a range of artist’s practices in multiple unique formats from drawings, paintings, sculptures, installations to performances. All artists are from Southeast Asian backgrounds and are in the early stages of their careers, including students and emerging artists. The exhibition is a call to reflect on raising awareness around sensitive issues, and a chance for artists to speak up about particular issues happening in the countries that we are from.

An.other Asian, curatorial statement

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