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15th Singapore Graduate Forum on Southeast Asian Studies

I was invited to participate in the 15th Singapore Graduate Forum on Southeast Asian Studies, originally meant to be held on 20-24 July 2020 at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore (NUS). Unfortunately, because of the developing COVID-19 situation, this event moved online.

I presented a paper titled “Linguistic Entanglements: Placing belief in Suzann Victor’s Tintoretto’s Risen Christ, Arresting Lazy Susan (1996).” Here is the abstract I submitted:

Current scholarship has productively analysed the impact of organised religion upon consciously religious artistic practice. From votive images to religiously-inflected narratives, impressive work has been done on the social and material culture of faith. Less attention has been given to the impact of religious practices upon secular society. In places like Singapore, where clear links between ethnicity and nationality do not exist, historical migratory patterns have allowed diverse rituals and imagery generally associated with specific religions to naturalise as part of the local culture and society. In the declination of religion from action or image, however, the discussion of these forms is often dismissed as simply part of the local traditions.  

This paper is forms part of my response to Western academic writing forms and its treatment of local forms of theory. Borrowing primarily from Buddhist and Christian thought, both through recognized canon as well as localized belief, it attempts to address how Art History, as a humanist discipline, fails to accommodate Singaporean, and non-Western art. More specifically, it considers performance and performance art as a political and pseudo-doctrinal project, allowing for experiences that, in theological terms, teach what cannot be imparted in word. 

The analysis draws from a year of fieldwork across the world. This data include archival documents (Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong; Live Art Development Agency, London, U.K.; Die Schwarze Lade, Cologne, Germany; and International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, the Netherlands), informal interviews with performance and installation artists who have worked in or identify with Singapore, photographs from contemporary performance art festivals in Southeast Asia and Europe, and art events that the researcher had been personally involved in. As a work in progress, it focuses on Tintoretto’s Risen Christ, Arresting Lazy Susan (1996) by Suzann Victor with the intention of further expanding the analysis to studies of works contemporaneous to this installation.

There is an event page here.