2016 4A Curators’ Intensive & Beijing Studio Program Recipients Announced

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is pleased to announce the participants of both the 2016 Beijing Studio Program and the 2016 4A Curators’ Intensive.


Both programs are designed to support emerging arts professionals in their respective fields by providing them with opportunities to connect and interact with practicing professionals in both Australia and Asia.

Programs such as these further reaffirms 4A’s distinctive approach to addressing Australia’s cultural diversity through a dynamic program including local and international exhibitions, public programs, workshops, seminars, symposiums and community activities.


Beijing Studio Program

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (WA), Eugenia Lim (VIC), and Justin Shoulder (NSW) have been selected to embark on a month-long residency at the studios of renowned Chinese-Australian artist Shen Shaomin.

The Beijing Studio Program is now in its fifth year of operation. It provides early and mid career Australian artists with a valuable opportunity to research new projects in rich cultural surroundings, build professional networks and observe the changes taking place in one of the most important cities in Asia.

Abdul Rahmen Abdullah, Eugenia Lim and Justin Shoulder were selected by a committee comprising Sue Acret, 4A Board Member and Co-Founder, ArtAsia Advisory; Professor Colin Rhodes, Dean, Sydney College of the Arts, and Toby Chapman, Creative Producer, Information & Cultural Exchange.

Abdullah, Lim and Shoulder were selected based on the strength of their applications, the potential benefits for their practices and capacity to extend their own cross-cultural networks.

Sue Acret said of Abdul-Rahman Abdullah:

“The 4A Beijing Studio Residency Program offers Abdul-Rahman Abdullah the opportunity to explore a new mode of family and artistic life in the studio of Shen Shaomin. Although Abdullah’s artistic preoccupations are born out of the cultural and familial roots of his Malay-Australian Muslim heritage, they are universal in their commentary on the dialogue between the animal/natural world and the cultural/human one. The residency also presents a great opportunity for Abdullah to investigate new modes of art making and possibilities for collaboration.”

Professor Rhodes said of Eugenia Lim:

Eugenia Lim has seized the moment and brought her practice front and centre. She has conceived a project that will make the most of a residency in Shen Shaomin’s studio and which, I suspect, will be impactful in China as well as here in Australia. Lim’s art is wise and arresting; two qualities that will only grow further out of this opportunity.”

Toby Chapman said of Justin Shoulder:

Justin Shoulder’s application was outstanding and illustrated clear benefits of time spent at the studios of Shen Shaomin. His current area of research and previous projects illustrate interesting alignments and intersections with contemporary practices in China as well as traditional forms of knowledge sharing and storytelling.”

4A’s Beijing Studio Program will give these young artists a fantastic opportunity to place their practices within a much broader international art context in a city such as Beijing.

Abdullah, Lim and Shoulder will travel to China in September 2016.


4A Curators’ Intensive

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is pleased to be hosting the third iteration of the 4A Curators’ Intensive supported by Copyright Agency Cultural Fund

This biannual initiative is a week-long intensive program facilitated by leading international curators, Carol Yinghua Lu (Beijing, China) Zarmeené Shah (Karachi, Pakistan) and Pooja Sood (Delhi, India). Along with 4A Director Mikala Tai and Casula Powerhouse Art Centre’s Creative Producer Community Cultural Engagement Khaled Sabsabi. These international curators will host a week of workshops, artists’ studio visits and discussions that seek to encourage the next generation of Australian curators to create sustainable working methodologies that extend between Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

4A’s Director Mikala Tai says:

“This program is a significant investment in the professional development of our future curatorial talent. The opportunity for them to work with leading curators from the Asia-Pacific throughout a demanding and rigorous week is unrivalled. We hope that at the end of the intensive that the manner in which they approach the act of exhibition making will have been extended and expanded.”

From a highly competitive pool of applicants from New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, the following 11 curators will participate in the 2016 4A Curators’ Intensive:

Hanann Al Daqqa (VIC)

Joanna Bayndrian (NSW)

Micheal Do (NSW)

Alana Hunt (WA)

Anabelle Lacroix (VIC)

Luke Letourneau (NSW)

Melissa McGrath (SA)

Laura McLean (NSW)

Adam Porter (NSW)

Talia Smith (NSW)

Amelia Wallin (NSW)

In addition to the closed program of 4A Curators’ Intensive designed for the participants, the three international curators will present keynotes at 4A. Open to the public, these talks focus on each curator’s current work and the curatorial context, art histories and cultural climates in which there are working. Book early to secure your place.

Carol Yinghua Lu

Revisits and Thick Description – Critical Reflections of Art Historical Narratives in the Post-Seclusion Era in China through Exhibition-Making. 

Seclusion (closed-door) policy has been employed by various Chinese governments in the recent history of China. Only during the Qing Dynasty, a generation of progressive thinkers and intellectuals introduced the notion of China as a nation state in the perception of its relationship to the rest of the world and in the field of history writing. In order to prevent the unorthodox ideas and cut off the outside forces, which interfered its authority, the Qing Administration implemented the seclusion policy, which had brought about serious consequences. Following the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 by the Communist Party, closed-door policy has been mobilized to various degrees over various periods, particularly during the Cultural Revolution, to cut off all diplomatic ties from the rest of the world, suspending exchanges in terms of economy, politics, culture and science, to assert nationalism and assure the unquestioned and unchallenged authority of the government.

More than three decades have passed since the end of the Cultural Revolution and China has been ushered into what can be considered “post-seclusion”, a term proposed by artist Liu Ding based on his observation and investigation into the contemporary ideology of the general public in China. In collaboration with Liu Ding, I have been working on researches concerning the recent history of art, especially on the critical issues in the broader context of the intellectual, political, social and revolutionary histories that inform and shape our sense of art history, the basis for our artistic practice and discourse in China. We have attempted to combine historic research and exhibition making in the field of contemporary art practice, envisioning and discovering connected links between historic events to contemporary thinking and practice. In this talk, I will elaborate on two examples of our collaborative curatorial practice: From the Issue of Art to the Issue of Position: Echoes of Socialist Realism and New Measurement Group and Qian Weikang: Two Case Studies of Conceptual Art Practice in the Early 1990s, and discuss how we employ the medium of exhibition with specific approaches as a means of historic research and reconsideration.

Monday 27 June, 6.30 FREE.  Book now.

Zarmeené Shah

The Karachi Biennale: A Case Study in Alternative Sites of Exchange

Taking the upcoming inaugural Karachi Biennale in 2017 as model, this talk opens up possibilities of how one begins to formulate ways of anchoring the ideas and dialogues generated in contemporary practices from Pakistan and around. Focusing on the biennale’s thematic of Witness, Shah discusses curatorial approaches and strategies geared towards the unpacking of a layered conceptual framework, highly relevant to this historically and geopolitically charged region, that looks at ideas of the personal and the political (geo/socio/religio), of memories and histories (written, unwritten, rewritten), and of investigations of the urban, the city of Karachi, within which many artistic practices find themselves entrenched. With a lack of state support and of many formal institutional structures and spaces, this presentation also raises questions of art in alternative/public space and takes into consideration issues of articulation, dissemination, audience and engagement. In such places, how must the roles of curators, artists, institutions and individuals shift in order to meet the challenges of a burgeoning art industry and evolving art practices that do not find Western institutional, critical and infrastructural models at their heart? As co-curator of the exhibition, Shah looks at the biennale as a site of exchange, investigating the possibilities, potentials and impacts of this large-scale, inaugural international art event for the city where it is to be located, the country, and for the region at large.

Tuesday 28 June, 6.30 FREE. Book Now.

Pooja Sood

Wednesday 29 June, 6.30 FREE. Book Now.


Image: Justin Shoulder. Courtesy of the artist