Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

The Third Avant-garde: contemporary art from Southeast Asia recalling tradition

How are contemporary art practices from Southeast Asia negotiating notions of art and tradition?

Leonor Veiga de Oliveira Matos Guilherme Ponsar
Foundation for Science and Technology / Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)
Ministry of Science, Technology and University Studies of the Portuguese Government / Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior do Governo de Portugal

I investigate how and why contemporary artists from Southeast Asia frequently employ elements from traditional arts, crafts and narratives in their artistic practice. This investigation problematizes the consequences of certain contemporary art practices that coalesce inputs from art history and anthropology, and proposes a possible theorization.

My field of study starts from the premise that at a scientific level, there is a taxonomical separation between art history, anthropology and museum practices. This division, which is questioned by certain contemporary art practices, is especially relevant in postcolonial societies.

I remain interested in how Western academicism, with its all-encompassing systematization and categorization, is under threat due to the emergence of contemporary art practices rooted in traditional arts, which question inherited taxonomies.

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