Joining or Making Worlds of Art?: Knowledge and Creativity in Southeast Asia
Fri 14:00-15:30 Online panel
- Pearlie Rose S. Baluyut Imperial Valley College
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A global memorial landscape: The Quezon Memorial Shrine
Kimberley Lustina Weir University of Hull
Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon, who had been in exile in the United States following the Japanese invasion of Manila on 8 December 1941, died of tuberculosis at Saranac Lake, New York State, on 1 August 1944. On the anniversary of his death a year later, his former vice-president and now president, Sergio Osmeña, declared that he would mark Quezon’s “imperishable place in our history” alongside “Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini and our other national heroes… [by] erect[ing] him a monument worthy of his glory”. The initiation of the monument in 1945 marked a key moment in Philippine history. In August the nation had regained its status as a commonwealth protectorate under the United States, following nearly four years of Japanese rule. Additionally, it was also a turning point in the country’s long struggle for independence, as just under a year later on 4 July 1946 the United States would recognise the Philippines as a sovereign nation.
The Making of Singapore Art
Louise Liwanag Independant scholar
Predating the 1997-98 Asian currency crisis but accelerated by it, Singapore was on its regionalisation drive, of both economic and cultural. Whilst acquiring or writing up loans on regional art from around Southeast Asia, it also embarked on the repurposing of buildings into museums. The investment drive admittedly exposed it to the downside of the regional crisis but emerged relatively unscathed. Despite some counterintuitive financial engineering moves that would normally affect investor confidence elsewhere, it prevailed and proved Singapore’s control over its capital accumulation. To complicate this matter,I will analyse one and/or two works in its collection and relate it to their other efforts, having emerged as requirements in its making of the Asian world of finance and art. A perspective is offered in relation to its offering permanent residency to regional artists. For an explanatory extension, its laying of the authoritarian hand on the production of local art, not as the usual guard from threats of its political implications, but as strengthening of its grip on financial liberalisation, the cornerstone of the current wave of globalisation.
Places that have benefitted the most economically from globalisation are those that have been able to localise the global diffusion of knowledge and creativity. Interchangeably referred to as human capital, it is inexhaustible and with increasing returns to scale it is a driver of growth. In Southeast Asia, links have been made among countries occupying varying stages of developmental trajectory, with how much and how early their governments invested in human capital development. Providing incentives for local education and workforce training alongside attracting foreign highly-skilled individuals and multinational corporations (for their R&D) set up the conditions for thriving economies.
The art world, when considered as a global network of goods, individuals, and institutions, is a treasure trove of knowledge and creativity. Aided by technological developments in mass media which have reduced frictions in viewing and communication, the network’s reach extends beyond established art capitals. New places that participate in its exchange indicate a level of prosperity or, at the very least, aspirations to a certain model of growth. Not only have regions in the Global South found increased artist representation in core biennials, if not record sales in the art market, the countries themselves boast homegrown large-scale international events. It can be argued that art’s core-periphery model is shifting; however, its transnational nodes of art institutions continue to concentrate in the Global North. In case they do elsewhere, for example in Southeast Asia, they touch down temporarily as branches or events and in cities that already attract creative persons seeking the market and buzz. Within the context of a global system that allows for slippery flows of capital, information, goods, and people regardless of distance and location, the absorptive capacities of a place to intellectual and creative capital can spell the difference in its fate to retain positive effects and to catch up to the rest of its neighbours.
This panel invites papers that analyse the extent to which the production, exhibition or reception of art in Southeast Asia position any one or community to the benefits of globalization; or, conversely, some areas are locked out due to existing institutional arrangements. It is also open to other cultural and creative industries, as well as historical accounts that cover previous waves of globalisation.
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