TAKE on art
Unspoken not Unforgotten Image Credit: TAKE on art
Unspoken not Unforgotten Image Credit: TAKE on art

Unspoken, not Unforgotten

Writing on Contemporary Art of Southeast Asia.

Bharti Lalwani

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting

- Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979)

With an audience that was welcoming and curious, I had an invaluable opportunity to share my learnings on the history and art of Southeast Asia (SEA) not as a presumed expert on the region but as a student, a specialist critic, still grasping at the diversity of SEA countries. Previous editions of TAKE on art magazine have given me great editorial freedom to review exhibitions and biennales from this part of the world which, in my view, is often overlooked in the international sphere save for the discussions on global art markets. Speaking in Baroda not only permitted the possibility to share what I have learnt but to also have my views tested, challenged and discussed within a safe but intellectually rigorous space in the presence of stalwarts from the Indian art scene.

Understanding art from any particular region requires for its entangled historical, socio-political, religious and cultural narratives to be contextualised in a manner that allows regional and international audiences to access its coded references and significance. Since my  move to Singapore in 2008, I naturally encountered art that emerged from specific  local circumstances. As an Indian hailing from Nigeria, I was evidently not a native of the region and I certainly did not come close to spea


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