Please Explain: Do colonial objects still hold power?


Program Moderator: Dr Mikala Tai

Program Speakers: Damian McDonald, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Professor Mary Roberts

4A’s series Please Explain invites presenters to rethink, recharge and reimagine contemporary issues through the arts and academia. In this edition of Please Explain, as part of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art exhibition Nusra Latif Qureshi: Strategies of Intentspeakers discuss the mobility of meaning and challenges presented by historical objects and imagery in a post-Orientalist world. Taking the work of artist Nusra Latif Qureshi and the text Networked Objects (2013) by Mary Roberts as a starting point, this discussion will ask whether Colonial objects still hold potency today in institutions and artistic practice; and investigate how artists and curators can work to challenge and engage with constructed histories of objects in shifting contexts.

Reading Recommendation: Mary Roberts, Networked Objects, 2013, Department of Art History and Film Studies, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.

Speaker Profiles:

| Moderator: 
| Dr Mikala Tai is the director of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney. As a curator, researcher, and academic specialising in contemporary Asian art, she has collaborated with local, national, and international organisations to strengthen ties between Australia and Asia. Recent curatorial projects at 4A include “The Burrangong Affray” (co-curated with Micheal Do, 2018), “Before the Rain” (2017); “I don’t want to be there when it happens” (co-curated with Kate Warren and expanded at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts with Eugenio Viola, 2017); and “Jogja Calling” (2016). She received critical acclaim for her organization of the performance program at Art Central Hong Kong (2016 -2018). Her independent curatorial projects include “Trompe-l’œil” (Sullivan + Strumpf Singapore, 2018) “Abdullah M.I. Syed: Diving Economy—Structures” (Aicon Gallery, New York, 2017), “Closing the Gap: Contemporary Indonesian Art” (Melbourne International Fine Art, 2011), and “Yang Yongliang: On the Quiet Water” (Fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne, 2009). Tai has taught at Monash University, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), and the University of Melbourne in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Tai’s writing can be found in several exhibition catalogues in addition to periodicals such as Broadsheet Journal, Art Monthly Australiasia, Photofile, Vault, and Ocula. In 2015, Tai received her PhD, focusing on the influence of the global city on China’s local art infrastructure.

| Damian McDonald’s principal research areas are firearms and edged weapons, and how they are influenced by, and influence culture, as well as their design. He is interested in health and medicine, particularly the history of the material culture of the discipline, and the ways society’s notions around health and medicine change under the continuing advances in this area. His interests also include music and musical instruments, particularly rock music and the Australian underground music scene, subcultures of the 1970s and 80s and their influences on contemporary youth culture, and the material culture of computer technology.

| Nusra Latif Qureshi (b. Lahore, Pakistan, lives and works in Melbourne, Australia) attended the National College of Arts, Lahore and completed her Masters of Fine Art at the University of Melbourne. Qureshi’s practices engages with the visual histories of the South Asian region and Australian culture, questioning conventional interpretations, pulling apart and reconfiguring the found patterns to construct new narratives. Her work has been exhibited widely in Austria, Germany, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Afghanistan, Italy, India, Japan, France, Switzerland, Finland and her home countries of Pakistan and Australia. Most recently she was exhibited at the Kunst Historisches Museum, Vienna, Austria as well as Brisbane’s QAG/GOMA. Her work has been collected widely including the British Museum, London, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Qureshi is represented by Sutton Gallery, Melbourne and is currently the artist in residence at the Lyceum Club, Melbourne.

| Professor Mary Roberts is the John Schaeffer Professor of Art History. She specializes in nineteenth-century British and Ottoman art with particular expertise in Orientalism, the history of artistic exchanges between the Ottoman Empire and Europe and the culture of travel. Her books include: Istanbul Exchanges. Ottomans, Orientalists and Nineteenth-century visual culture (University of California Press, 2015), Intimate Outsiders. The Harem in Ottoman and Orientalist Art and Travel Literature (Duke, 2007) and four co-edited books: The Poetics and Politics of Place. Ottoman Istanbul and British Orientalism (Pera Museum and University of Washington Press, 2011) Edges of Empire. Orientalism and Visual Culture (Blackwells, 2005), Orientalism’s Interlocutors, (Duke, 2002) and Refracting Vision. Essays on the Writings of Michael Fried (Power Publications, 2000/2012).