Befouled Desire – Extractions ‘Waste Zones’


An online conversation with Martha Atienza (Bantayan Islands), Jiandyin (Ratchaburi) and Lê Giang (Hanoi), moderated by Zoe Butt (Ho Chi Minh City). 



via Zoom Webinar: register in advance for this webinar here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


Join artist Martha Atienza, artist/curator duo Jiandyin and artist Lê Giang in conversation with curator/writer Zoe Butt for the first of four sessions in an online talk series as part of the Australia Council for the Arts ‘Curatorial Associates Program’, in partnership with The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. 

Artists Martha Atienza, Jiandyin and Lê Giang investigate contemporary art as a tool through which human habit and desire can be scrutinized; via community action, collaborative research and particular visual strategies of display. Committed to their local contexts, deeply aware of the political limits of the disenfranchised, these artists reveal the social repercussion of resource extraction, prompting critical questions concerning the right to sovereignty; the exploitative limits of the human body; and the role of luxury in cultural superstition (to name but a few).

Humans have always dug, cut, burned or relocated the resources of our Earth. As once nomadic hunters and gatherers, we sought sustenance and remedy from the plants, animals and minerals that surround us. Our need of such material was in aid of our everyday habits, in nurture of our physical health – we understood particular plants were seasonal, we respected that animals needed particular food to live. We also once lived with awe of particular animals and their special powers, according to differing belief. But human society, long before the onset of colonial violence (think the monarchical/dynastic expansion of faith across the Christian world since the Roman Empire), began organizing its political imagination in near god-like fashion, seeking to expand and control land and goods, to their own benefit.

‘Need’ became a righteous claim, dangerously confused with ‘desire’. Such attitude today drives our globalizing capitalism, disguised as corporate growth for the betterment of national economies. We continue to consume without heed of the scale of damage in our desire for material wealth, without heed of the interdependent environment we are robbing. In this conversation, the impact of our classification, division and control of ‘territory’; our expending of plastic packaging; our treasuring of gem-stone jewelry – is under investigation. Linking desire with repercussion, this conversation goes on to ask: Is it possible to change human behaviour – our beliefs, our assumptions, our frameworks of survival – so as to curb the destruction of our desire? What role do artists play in revealing such struggle? What research methods and aesthetic techniques of display are utilized/considered?

‘.. Artists and activists, as well as communities set on doing politics differently, are restoring and inventing alternative forms of life and creative modes of ethical being-in-common. They are drawing on existing wisdoms, and proposing new knowledges, remaking the world as we know it in imagination, representation, and practice’. (T.J. Demos ‘Beyond the World’s End: Arts of Living at the Crossing’, pg. 65).

This conversation is organized in association with the project ‘Re-Aligning the Cosmos’: an initiative of The Factory Contemporary Art Centre in Ho Chi Minh City. This Fellowship program seeks to examine the role, presence and meaning of the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) in contemporary life, examining how they are used in human superstition/spirituality, reflecting on their consumption (or neglect) that are, in turn, of impact on the human and non-human world. 

This online talk series is the first of four, as part of the Australia Council for the Arts ‘Curatorial Associates Program’, in partnership with The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Please join us online on April 10, 2021 with Curatorial Associate, Adam Porter, for its second session!



| Moderator: Zoe Butt (Lives in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

| Zoe Butt is a curator and writer. Her curatorial practice centres on building critical thinking and historically conscious artistic communities, fostering dialogue among cultures of the globalizing souths. Currently she is Artistic Director of The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Ho Chi Minh City; formerly  directorial/curatorial roles with San Art (Ho Chi Minh City), Long March Project (Beijing); Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane). Co-curator of Sharjah Biennial 14, her work has been published by Hatje Cantz, ArtReview, Art Asia Pacific, JRP-Ringier, Routledge, Sternberg Press, amongst others. 


| Martha Atienza (Lives in Bantayan Islands, The Philippines)

| Martha’s artistic practice is sociological in nature, her varied sculptural and video installations often utilizing technology in the form of mechanical systems. ‘Her work tends to be collaborative in nature, working with people from different backgrounds and expertise as well as residents of Bantayan Island, where her family is from, whose narratives are intricately woven into issues such as environmental change, displacement, cultural loss, governance and socio-economic disparities’. 


| Jiandyin (Artist/curator duo: Jiradej Meemalai and Pornpilai Meemalai, lives in Ratchaburi, Thailand)

| Jiandyin’s research is interdisciplinary in nature, produced in collaborative spirit and driven by social forms of inquiry. Collecting data and analyzing its social repercussions, their visual practice is conceptual in form, delivering statistics and summary of human calamity/impoverishment within sculptural installations that beg a re-assessment of political hegemony, economic corruption and spiritual advancement. They are co-founders of Baan Noorg Collaborative Arts and Culture, a not-for-profit artist education initiative in Ratchaburi. 


| Lê Giang (Lives in Hanoi, Vietnam)

| Giang’s predominant drawing and sculptural practice questions the systematization of human memory and habit via the study of archive and interdisciplinary collaborative research. Compelled by the violence of erasure in the process of categorizing History and its human and non-human worlds, Giang’s exploration of particular media – eg. coal, plaster, stone – reveals the symbolic weight of materiality, begging a re-assessment of often near hidden colonial imprimata, cultural superstition or social stigma. Le Giang is co-founder of Six Space, an artist-run space in Hanoi.



I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney

Diaspora Pavilion 2 will be presented in 2021, more details to follow. 

Exhibition artists: Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Lindy Lee, Leyla Stevens, Zadie Xa and Daniela Yohannes.

I am a heart beating in the world is the first of a series of peripatetic international events that culminate in the second edition of International Curators Forum’s (ICF) Diaspora Pavilion being planned to take place during the Venice Biennale 2021. 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is collaborating with ICF to present this unfolding series that will interrogate and complicate the term diaspora. As the first project of the series, I am a heart beating in the world presents the navigations, imaginings and lived experiences of diasporic subjectivities through the works of six artists based in Australia, the UK and Caribbean: Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Lindy Lee, Leyla Stevens, Zadie Xa, Daniela Yohannes.

Understanding diaspora as a distinct sometimes provisional experience nuanced economically, historically and regionally I am a heart beating in the world is as much an exhibition as it is a research project, underpinned by fieldwork and reviews of how artists, curators, theorists and institutions engage with diaspora as a topic. 4A’s biannual 4A Curators Intensive will be held alongside the exhibition in April bringing together early-career Australian curators alongside a UK based early career curator for a week-long professional development program. The intensive will be facilitated through workshops, lectures, site visits and discussions.

Artist Biographies:

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (b. Port Kembla, Australia 1977 lives and works in Perth, Australia) is a sculpture whose practice explores the different ways that memory can inhabit and emerge from familial spaces. Drawing on the narrative capacity of animal archetypes, crafted objects and the human presence, Abdullah aims to articulate physical dialogues between the natural world, politics and the agency of culture. Recent exhibitions include The National, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2019), Dark Horizons, Pataka Art + Museum, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand (2017) and Magic ObjectAdelaide Biennale of Australian Art, Adelaide, Australia (2016).

Kashif Nadim Chaudry (b. Nottingham, United Kingdom 1976 lives and works in Nottingham, United Kingdom) is informed by his family heritage in tailoring which has influenced and focused his practice around the importance of materiality and craftsmanship. His work is characterised by the working, shaping and moulding of physical objects through the use of elaborate textile-based techniques to create monumental installations from fabric and found objects. Negotiating his identity as a British born gay man of Pakistani Muslim heritage much of Chaudry’s work questions how people choose to position themselves in the world. In relation, it is increasingly the sculptural and three-dimensional possibilities within his work that address the idea of positioning power, the sacred and the ceremonial. Recent exhibitions include Swags & Tails as part of the Asia Triennial, Manchester, UK (2014) and The Three Graces, Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2016).

Lindy Lee (b. Brisbane, Australia 1954 lives and works in Byron Bay, Australia) has an expansive practice that explores her Chinese ancestry through Taoism and Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism – philosophies that see humanity and nature as inextricably linked. Symbolic gestures and processes that call on the element of chance are often used to produce a galaxy of images that embody the intimate connections between human existence and the cosmos. Rather than singular visual statements, they are thoughtful objects where meaning emerges from sustained meditation. Recent exhibitions include the solo Lindy Lee: The Dark of Absolute Freedom, The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia (2014), and group exhibitions Divided Worlds: Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia (2018) and Marking Time, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2012).

Leyla Stevens (b. Cooroy, Australia 1982 lives and works between Bali, Indonesia and Sydney, Australia) is an Australian-Balinese artist and researcher who works predominately within moving image and photography. Her practice is informed by ongoing concerns around gesture, ritual, spatial encounters, transculturation and counter histories. Working within modes of representation that shift between the documentary and speculative fictions, her work deals with a notion of counter archives and alternative genealogies. Recent exhibitions include her solo presentations Their Sea is Always Hungry, UTS Gallery, Sydney, Australia (2019) and Of Love and Decomposition, Firstdraft, Sydney, Australia (2016) and group exhibitions Breathing Room (collaboration with Woven Kolektif), Cement Fondue, Sydney, Australia (2019), BEAUT 19, Brisbane & Elsewhere Art UnTriennial, Brisbane, Australia (2018) and the John Fries Award, UNSW Galleries, Sydney, Australia (2018).

Daniela Yohannes (b.1982 lives and works in Guadeloupe, in the French Carribean) is a British-Eritrean/Ethiopian artist who, since training, as an illustrator has meandered through several disciplines before becoming an artist. Since moving to the Caribbean two years ago, her surroundings have found their way into her creations. She describes her inspiration as that of the invisible; the forces and concepts that drive and surround us: unseen but constantly at work on our bodies and minds. Her paintings and recent moving image works are witness to the expression of nature; explorations of the intimate experiences that are shared only with the elements: earth, air, water, and space. She confronts themes of the unconscious, race, identity and ancestry, the ethereal nature of the cosmos and plurality of the individual – interrogating the nature of belonging and what constitutes that feeling of ‘home’ and the impact and consequences of alienation. Recent solo exhibitions include; The Fall: A Woman’s descent into the Unconscious, Addis Fine Art Project Space London, UK, (2019), Beyond Voudou, The Pikture Gallery Bangkok, Thailand (2010) and group exhibitions Influence Project, Real Music Rebels East Wing Takeover, Somerset House London, UK, (2018) and House of Wahala Project Texas, USA (2017).

Zadie Xa (b. Vancouver, Canada 1983 lives and works in London, United Kingdom) explores the overlapping and conflation of cultures that inform self-conceptualisation identities and notion of self through performance, video, painting and textiles. Her layered textile works are sites for exploring contemporary identity construction and performance through cultural sampling, informed by her own experience within the Asian diaspora. Xa’s intricate, hand sewn wearable and performable garments stitch together a range of personally relevant imagery sourced from music, digital space, fashion, and art history. Xa has developed a system of personalised semiotics that propose entirely new images and objects, creating a personal visual language for articulating nuanced Asian identity narratives, which are frequently situated within fantastical or supernatural realms. Recent solo exhibitions include Meetings on Art performance program for the Venice Biennale open week (2019), Child of Magohalmi and the Echos of Creation, Yarat Contemporary Art Space, Baku, Azerbaijan (2019) and Soju Sipping on a Sojourn to Saturn, Galeria Agustina Ferreyra, Mexico (2018).

I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, Sydney is presented in partnership with International Curators Forum and with support from Outset. This project has been supported by The British Council.

Drawn by stones

Drawn by stones will be presented in 2021, more details to follow. 

Exhibition artists: Dean Cross and more to be announced

Drawn by stones brings together artists who utilise the ceramic medium to interrogate contested histories, stolen land, Indigenous sovereignty, and concepts of national identity. Exhibiting artists from Australia, Hong Kong and Taiwan investigate the creation of a sense of ‘nationhood’ and ownership through ceramics and demonstrate how the ceramic form can both memorialise and tell alternative histories.

The exhibition is grounded by the 2020 installation of Monuments, Dean Cross’ site-responsive work – an ongoing project since 2016, intended for exhibition every two years. Cross’ Monuments challenges colonial concepts of ceramics, memorialising and memory, with handfuls of white ochre – handfuls of Ngunnawal/ Ngambri Country – gathered by the artist’s father on their property with permission from local elder and custodian of the land Aunty Matilda House – building a grid that spreads across the gallery floors.

Taking its title from Marvin Bell’s 1984 poem Drawn by Stones, by Earth, by Things That Have Been in the Fire, this exhibition recognises that the foundations of ceramic practice lie in the earth – and through the work of exhibiting artists, aims to expand the relevance of ceramic histories, dialogues and interrogations of land, place, sovereignty and ownership across Asia and Australia.

Artist Biography:

Dean Cross was born and raised on Ngunnawal/Ngambri Country and is of Worimi descent. He is a trans-disciplinary artist primarily working across installation, sculpture and photography. His career began in contemporary dance, performing and choreographing nationally and internationally for over a decade with Australia’s leading dance companies. Following that Dean re-trained as a visual artist, gaining his Bachelor’s degree from Sydney College of the Arts, and his First Class Honours from the ANU School of Art and Design.

Dean has shown his work extensively across Australia. This includes the Indigenous Ceramic Prize at the Shepparton Art Musuem, curated by Anna Briers and Belinda Briggs (2018), Tarnanthi at the Art Gallery of South Australia, curated by Nici Cumpston (2017), RUNS DEEP a solo show at Alaska Projects, Sydney (2018), The Churchie Emerging Art Prize (2016), The Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize (2015), and the Macquarie Group Emerging Art Prize (2015) where his work was awarded the Highly Commended prize by artist Joan Ross. In 2018 Dean has also exhibited at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, as a part of the NEXTWAVE Festival Melbourne, with curator Amelia Winata, and at Artbank, Sydney in Talia Smith’s In a World of Wounds. Also, Dean has been a year-long Artist in Residence at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space (CCAS). Dean was also selected to be a part of the 4A Beijing Studio Residency Program in Beijing, China.