4A Symposium: This Is How We Do It


4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and the University of Melbourne invite you to join us for 4A’s 2018 symposium, This Is How We Do It: Museums and Galleries in Asia.

This Is How We Do It: Museums and Galleries in Asia brings together leading professionals from museums and galleries across wider Asia to share experiences and discuss what’s next for our region’s cultural and creative spaces. With international experts including Philip Tinari (China), director of Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Joselina Cruz (Philippines), director of the Museum of Contemporary Art & Design (MCAD), Manila; and Reem Fadda, independent curator (Palestine); alongside local speakers representing community, state and national institutions and organisations, this symposium seeks to generate debate and discussion around the central question of how Australia’s arts ecology can learn from and embrace new models and practices from our Asian neighbours.

A day-long symposium, this event is free to attend but RSVPs are required due to limited seating capacity and catering which will be included for all registered attendees.  Click here to register.

To download the day’s program, complete with bios, click here.


Symposium schedule:

9.00AM– 10.00AM                             Registration 

10.00AM – 10.15AM                           Welcome

Prof. Su BAKER AM (Australia), Pro Vice-Chancellor Engagement and Director, Centre of Visual Arts (COVA), Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne

Dr Mikala TAI (Australia), Director, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

10.15AM – 10.30AM                           Opening presentation

| Prof. Charles GREEN (Australia), Professor of Contemporary Art, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne

Charles Green frames the day’s discussions by providing a brief contextual overview of Australia’s varied engagements and relationships with Asia within changing global contemporary art contexts.

10.30AM – 11.15AM                           Focus presentation

| Reem FADDA (Palestine), independent curator based in Ramallah, Palestine.

In August 2017, the Palestinian Museum in Ramallah opened its inaugural exhibition, Jerusalem Lives (Tahya Al Quds). Through her curatorial direction, Reem Fadda examined the city of Jerusalem as a case study that aimed to metaphorically represent globalisation and its failures and expose the challenges imposed by militarisation and occupation that Jerusalem and its people are facing. Combining a multifaceted approach that included commissioned site-specific artworks in the grounds and gardens of the Museum, alongside a program that supported civic institutions in the city that have adopted an enduring methodology of collective struggle, Reem discusses the processes by which a new museum in an old city engaged more than just art and artists in a process of mutual knowledge production as a frontier of resistance.

11.15AM – 12.30PM                           Panel 1 – Old spaces, new stories: the future of responsive institutions

| Speakers: Dr Rebecca COATES (Australia), Director, Shepparton Art Museum; Reem FADDA (Palestine); Dr Anthea GUNN (Australia), Senior Curator of Art, Australian War Memorial; Kirsten PAISLEY (Australia), Deputy Director, National Gallery of Australia.

| Moderator: Dr Mikala TAI

How do museums and galleries that have long held a central responsibility to maintain and build upon collections ensure that their priorities are responsive to changing local and global contexts? Whether it be the question of the decision-making processes behind the acquisition of artworks, the question of programming and wider cultural engagement with audiences, or the role of advocacy and education, established institutions in today’s climate are unavoidably charged with expectations of reflecting, responding and developing new curatorial strategies, new content, new audiences and new experiences. Bringing together leading gallery directors and curators with extensive experience in tackling these expectations, this panel will focus on the essential imperative of established institutions to maintain relevance.

12.30PM – 1.30PM                             Lunch break

1.30PM – 2.15PM                               Focus presentation

Joselina CRUZ (Philippines), Director, Museum of Contemporary Art & Design (MCAD), Manila

Joselina Cruz’s curatorial projects over the past decade have been defined by her commitment to developing spaces and platforms, particularly in Southeast Asia and the Philippines more specifically, a region whose cultural infrastructure has rapidly evolved while also growing its own cultural projections and methods of engagement with local and international audiences. Central to her concerns as a curator and a cultural leader is the responsibility of prompting conversations about the intertwined structures of power and influence, in art as well as politics, alongside providing opportunities for artists’ voices and platforms for cultural self-determination. Joselina will explore these subjects through a discussion on recent projects including Pacita Abad: A Million Things to Say (2018) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul: The Serenity of Madness for MCAD (2017), and The Spectre of Comparison, the Philippines Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017), that presented artists Lani Maestro and Manuel Ocampo in an exploration of the ‘double-consciousness’ of colonial experiences and legacies.

Presentation supported by Artspace, Sydney.

2.15PM – 3.30PM                               Panel 2 – Expanded and expansive: curatorial approaches that push the boundaries of the institution

| Speakers: Joselina CRUZ (Philippines); Reuben KEEHAN (Australia), Curator Asian Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA); Natalie KING (Australia), independent curator and Enterprise Professor, Victorian College of Arts; Dr Sophie McINTYRE (Australia), independent curator and Lecturer, Faculty of Creative Industries, Queensland University of Technology.

| Moderator: Dr. Olivier KRISCHER (Australia), Deputy Director, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney.

Institutions, by their inherent organisational nature, have a marked tendency to institutionalise the production of knowledge. This can, and often does, have the unintended effect of creating barriers for engagement and participation by the communities they purport to serve and reflect. Often criticised as ‘gate-keepers’, whether deserving and substantiated or not, an increasing number of museums and galleries have responded to this perception by introducing independent voices within their curatorial programs. Offering insights based on the diverse and extensive experiences and accomplishments of working in Asia, the panelists will address the challenges at play when institutions seek to break down boundaries between artists, communities and cultures more broadly, as well as identify successful examples of collaboration and representation within expanded modes of cultural engagement.

4.00PM – 4.50PM                               In conversation

| Speakers: Philip TINARI and Lisa HAVILAH (Australia), Director, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia.

Join one the world’s leading experts in contemporary Chinese art as Phil Tinari sits down with Lisa Havilah for a conversation that will encompass such topics as the exponential growth of international engagement with Chinese art and culture; the effect of rising art market value of contemporary Chinese art upon the emergence of a new generation of artists; the fear of censorship and questions of artistic and institutional independence; and China’s strategic investment in soft power through cultural infrastructure and its promotion.

Session co-presented with Melbourne Art Week. 

4.45 PM – 5.00PM                              Questions from the audience and concluding remarks

Speaker: Dr Mikala TAI


This Is How We Do It: Museums and Galleries in Asia is co-presented by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and The University of Melbourne. Additional support thanks to our partners at Artspace Sydney, and Melbourne Art Week.