Why have an issue of the TAAASA Review on Asian Women Artists? Surely in the last twenty five years we have seen, written, talked about this topic enough? Surely we have partaken to ensure women artists in the Asian region have had the equal exposure and opportunity as their male counterparts? Well, maybe not enough, but things are gradually changing.
‘Women’ is such a diverse topic; we are all aware of the clichés associated with the notion of women making up half the world. When I was asked to guest edit this TAASA issue, I endeavoured , not necessarily to create an issue revolving around a theme about women per se, but instead examined what interested authors so much about women artists that they were willing to write something for this particular issue. So with many of the writers, I made the selfish decision of selecting people I was really interested in to find out, if given the option, what they would choose to write about Asian women artists. This issue as such contains a number of artists I was not familiar with or practices I was not aware of, and made it a very interesting project of discovery.
I think Yvonne Low’s paper puts this issue into perspective. Her article fundamentally questions how far women artists exhibiting in Southeast Asia have come and how far they may need to go. She outlines a number of women’s group exhibitions: the circuits which have been established, and the importance of analysing the histories of these exhibitions as part of ‘recovering’ the history of women artists. Sabeena Gadihoke’s article about Homai Vyarawalla, India’s first woman press photographer, is a fascinating article about not only the building of modern India, but of the ‘modern girl’ in India.
Khanh Trinh’s article about artist Lee Sekyung, who moves between Korea and Germany, relates the idea of the use of hair in her work, a material that has different meaning amongst cultures. Jane Somerville’s piece about the American born Iraqi artist Rheim Alkadhi and her use of hair, linked the artist with the local people she worked with but was also seen to be a medium ‘that can span borders’. Marianne Hulsbosch’s has written about hair jewellery of Molluccan women of the Dutch East Indies, which hence brings us back to the traditional importance of adorning hair.
Chaya Chandrasekhar speaks of the hand painted patterns drawn on a threshold common in South Asian homes, and also reminds us that these types of traditions continue to endure around the world. The jewellery artist Bic Tieu will travel around the world in pursuit of her passion, as she did by going to study in the workshop of Unryuan in Japan to acquire her lacquer experience. Yeehwan Yeo’s review about the Indonesian performance artist Melati Suryodarmo who performed at the OzAsia in Adelaide, and will also perform at the Asia Pacific Triennial in December, also brought home how many Asian women artists have actually been involved in international art circuits.
Mark Harrison’s review on Shawna Yang Ryan’s recently published book Green Island conveys how the story deeply expresses the generational influences the history and politics of Taiwan has on a family. Christine Clark interviewed the artist Savanhdary Vongpoothorn, an artist who takes much inspiration from the world around her and explores her most recent trip to India. John Millbank’s review of the recipes from Koo Siu Ling’s family provides insight into a book that also speaks about the role of women in the culture of the East Javanese Peranakans.
This issue covers Asian women working in Asia and also women who are part of the diaspora living abroad. Things are not so black and white, as artists move more than ever before, not only to live and study, but to experience art and life in different places. Their bases can also be attached to more than one country. I hope this issue about Asian Women Artists primarily acknowledges the strength, contribution and expertise women of the region have made to the arts.
TAASA would like to wish our members all the very best for the holiday season. We had a very full events calendar in 2015, and have ended the year with a major milestone – the launch of our new website. We look forward to offering another stimulating year of Asian art events in 2016.
3 EDITORIAL: ASIAN WOMEN ARTISTS - Natalie Seiz, Guest Editor
4 WOMEN AND PROJECTS ON SOUTHEAST ASIAN WOMEN ARTISTS (1990-2015)
RE-MODELLING ART WORLDS: EXHIBITIONS - Yvonne Low
7 TRANSFERRED BEAUTY – THE HAIR ART OF LEE SEKYUNG - Khanh Trinh
9 AT THE THRESHOLD: INDIA’S WOMEN, ART AND CULTURAL CONTINUITY - Chaya Chandrasekhar
12 RHEIM ALKADHI: THE POLITICS OF EXCHANGE - Jane Somerville
14 WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO REHANA? HOMAI VYARAWALLA’S PHOTOGRAPHS OF MODERN GIRLS AND THE CULTURAL PROJECT OF NATIONALISM - Sabeena Gadihoke
18 A SHIMMERING PRACTICE: JAPANESE LACQUER ART - Bic Tieu
20 RAMA WAS A MIGRANT TOO: INTERVIEWING SAVANHDAR Y VONGPOOT HORN - Christine Clark
22 HAIR JEWELLERY OF MOLUCCAN WOMEN OF THE DUTCH EAST INDIES - Marianne Hulsbosch
24 WAYS OF REMEMBERING - GREEN ISLAND AND SHAWNA YANG RYAN - Mark Harrison
26 MELATI SURYODARMO : PERFORMANCE AS JOURNEY - Yeehwan Yeo
27 BOOK REVIEW: A PARANAKAN COOKBOOK FROM EAST JAVA - John Millbank
28 RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES
29 TAASA MEMBERS’ DIARY: DECEMBER 2015 – FEBRUARY 2016
30 WHAT ’S ON: DECEMBER 2015 – FEBRUARY 2016 - Compiled by Tina Burge