Curators: Jo-Lene Ong, Annie Jael Kwan and Amir Zainorin
Stateless Mind presents live and performance art of Asians in diaspora. The fourth edition is conceived as a satellite event in response to the Pera+Flora+Fauna exhibition, which is an official collateral event of the 59th La Biennale di Venezia. The programme will take place within the exhibition at the Archivi della Misericordia and its surrounds.
Stateless Mind_Bodies of knowledge focuses on the entanglements of Southeast Asian cultural and vernacular forms of knowledge that are held in the body, transmitted over generations and across national and regional geographies. Looking beyond Southeast Asia as identity, Stateless Mind_Bodies of Knowledge brings together artistic practices that investigate and speculate on Southeast Asia as modality. The five-day program presents 25 artists who are based in Europe (Scandinavia, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Malaysia) but work in relation to or think with and across sites of Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia has long been a region of dynamic interaction and exchange of a multitude of cultures. Located along and framed as a crossroads of maritime trade and empire, it seems apropos that Southeast Asia is acronymed as SEA. In this region, people’s lives are closely tied to the rhythms and flows of the sea and its trajectories within and beyond. The rapid succession of colonisation, World War II, formation of independent nation states, and modernisation has eroded this way of living. However there remains a Southeast Asian sensibility for fluid frontiers and watery spaces. A hint of this hydrologics can be found in the Malay term “Tanah-air”. Forms of Malay languages are spoken in present day Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, East Timor and parts of Thailand. “Tanah-air” is akin to homeland but connects with notions of both land (tanah) and water (air) to suggest a more fluid and elemental sense of belonging. “Tanah-air” conveys a way of being in world where we belong to things as much as they belong to us.
The participating artists are driven by a shared desire to recover forms knowledges richer and deeper than rationality. The works presented in Stateless Mind_Bodies Knowledge use Southeast Asia as modality to imagine inclusive fluid frontiers and capacious watery spaces for all bodies. Acknowledging that the climate crisis is a colonial crisis means that concerns for our threatened future must go hand-in-hand with recovery from the loss and omissions of the past five hundred years. Culture and indigenous knowledge are our best teachers on this journey of recovery, and here we find comradeship with Pera+Flora+Fauna exhibition that commissioned two projects in collaboration with the Semai indigenous group of Perak and presented contemporary artworks that sought a conversation with traditional and local knowledge.