TAASA Review issues

Kheyal (still) 2015–18, Munem Wasif b.1983, Bangladesh. Single-channel video, 23:34 minutes, black and white, sound, 16:9. Image: courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai. See pp 4-5 of this issue.
December 2018
Vol: 27 Issue: 4
Editor/s: Josefa Green & Jim Masselos, Co-editor
Cover Image

Kheyal (still) 2015–18, Munem Wasif b.1983, Bangladesh. Single-channel video, 23:34 minutes, black and white, sound, 16:9. Image: courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai. See pp 4-5 of this issue.

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Editorial

The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art has already been launched in Brisbane, one of the most important and stimulating Asian art events in the Australian calendar. In this issue, we give space to several aspects of APT9. Curator Tarun Nagesh provides an overview of the focus and themes of this edition of APT, 25 years after its inauguration. He also focuses on an installation by one of Pakistan’s most important contemporary artists, Aisha Khalid, a majestic hanging structure made of fabric and gold plated and steel pins. Emily Wakeling alerts us to a great achievement of APT9, namely an almost equal representation of female artists. She highlights the projects which allowed this to happen and directs our attention to some of the notable works on show.

The planned trip by TAASA to APT9 in February 2019 will allow TAASA members to enjoy this exhibition first hand, guided by experts such as Tarun Nagesh and Emily Wakeling.

In Sydney, we can look forward to a major Chinese art exhibition at the AGNSW in February, Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei. Chinese Art Curator Yin Cao takes us through its main themes, organised around the philosophical concept of tian ren he yi or harmony between heaven and humans, drawing on 153 Chinese artworks from the Neolithic to 19th centuries.

Finally, if you are travelling to Singapore or London next year, you might catch a British Museum organised exhibition on Sir Stamford Raffles’ Javanese Collections: From civilising mission to self-promotion. The exhibition’s curator, Alexandra Green points out that little has been published on Raffles’ collection as a whole, and provides insights into the motivations and prejudices, often shared with contemporaries, which coloured the nature of the material he collected during his time in Java.

Another contribution similarly reflects on the impulses which drive people to collect works of art. Yifang Cui examines the collecting history of one of the ‘holy grails’ for Chinese ceramic collectors, the Ming Chenghua period ‘chicken cup’. She explains why examples of this cup are so special and what is happening economically, politically and socially in China to promote the current impulse to spend huge fortunes in ‘buying back’ Chinese artworks.

Researching and preserving historic works of art can also, thankfully, be motivated by more altruistic and scholarly impulses. Two articles demonstrate this amply. Jennifer Loubser shares her experiences in conserving Bhutanese thangkas, most recently in Thimphu, working to conserve 12 thangkas belonging to the collection of Bhutan’s Royal Grandmother Kesang Choeden Wangchuk, depicting life stories of the historical Buddha Sakyamuni. She honours the work of one of the foremost authorities on the conservation of East Asian paintings, Ephraim (‘Eddie’) Jose who has helped to establish a tradition of conservation in Bhutan through enabling trained monks to continue to preserve Bhutan’s sacred art.

The legacy of Mary Slusser, one of the foremost authorities in Nepalese art history who died last year, is warmly described by Sophia Pandé, currently Campaign Director of Development at the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust in Nepal. Since the early 1960’s, when she arrived in Nepal, Slusser’s research work and publications, often in collaboration with Nepali colleagues, has ensured that much of Nepal’s history and art history has been meticulously documented and preserved.

Chaitanya Sambrani briefs us on a current project at ANU’s Centre for Art History and Art Theory to digitalise the Basham archive, a collection of 35mm slides with corresponding index cards left to ANU by South Asian scholar Professor Basham. These were in danger of being ‘decommissioned’ and will now be made available for online access via a searchable data base once the project is complete.

Greg Doyle provides an excellent one page summary of some of the highlights of the 800 or so papers presented at the Asian Studies Association of Australia’s bi-annual conference held this June. In July, the Indonesian textile collection assembled by Dr John Yu and the late Dr George Soutter, originally shown at Mosman Art Gallery in 2014, was spectacularly displayed at Museum Tekstil in Jakarta. Katrina Cashman, Siobhan Campbell and John Yu point out the opportunity this gave to demonstrate the interest that Australians take in Indonesian material culture as well encouraging mutual exchange around collection display, conservation and research strategies. Finally, my account of a trip to Shanxi province in China early this year aims to highlight some of the important treasures to be seen in this province.

Best wishes to TAASA members for a safe and enjoyable holiday season. Planning for a rich and varied Asian arts program for TAASA members in 2019 is well underway.

Table of contents

3   EDITORIAL

4   THE 9TH ASIA PACIFIC TRIENNIAL OF CONTEMPORARY ART - Tarun Nagesh

6   A FLOURISHING RESILIENCE: WOMEN ARTISTS IN APT9 - Emily Wakeling

8   WATER HAS NEVER FEARED THE FIRE: AISHA KHALID AT APT9 - Tarun Nagesh

9   HEAVEN AND EARTH IN CHINESE ART: TREASURES FROM THE NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM, TAIPEI - Yin Cao

12   COLLECTING CHINESE ANTIQUITIES IN THE 21st CENTURY: THE ‘CHICKEN CUP’ AS CASE STUDY - Yifang Cui

15   CROSS-CULTURAL ART CONSERVATION: PRESERVING BHUTAN’S BUDDHIST PAINTINGS - Jennifer Loubser

18   SIR STAMFORD RAFFLES’ JAVANESE COLLECTIONS: FROM CIVILISING MISSION TO SELF-PROMOTION - Alexandra Green

20   MARY SHEPHERD SLUSSER (1918-2017): THE LEGACY OF A LOVING GAZE - Sophia L. Pandé

22   TRAVELLER’S CHOICE: THE TREASURES OF SHANXI - Josefa Green

24   THE BASHAM PROJECT AT THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY - Chaitanya Sambrani

25   ENCOUNTERS WITH BALI IN JAKARTA: MUSEUM TEKSTIL JAKARTA, 10 JULY - 5 AUGUST 2018 - Katrina Cashman, Siobhan Campbell & John Yu

26   ASIAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA (ASAA) 2018 CONFERENCE: CANVASSING THE ARTS - Greg Doyle

27   RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES

29   TAASA MEMBERS’ DIARY: DECEMBER 2018 – FEBRUARY 2019

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