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September 8, 2017 to January 21, 2018


Asia Society
725 Park Avenue
at 70th Street
New York  New York  10021
United States
Asia Society

After Darkness: Southeast Asian Art in the Wake of History

Image: FX Harsono. Victim - Destruction I, 1997. Performance at the Alun-alun Selatan (Southern Square) during the opening for the exhibition "Slot in the Box" at Cemeti Art House, 1997. Courtesy Cemeti Art House

At a time of social and political tension, how should art and artists respond to the challenges of the moment? Does art have the power to change the world or does the world shape the evolution of art? After Darkness: Southeast Asian Art in the Wake of History considers these questions through the work of seven contemporary artists and one artist group from Indonesia, Myanmar, and Vietnam, whose lives and artistic practices have intersected with defining periods of socio-political transition in their respective societies. Indonesian artists FX Harsono and Tintin Wulia have each created powerful work following the turmoil and intermittent violence that erupted in Indonesia during the 1998 Reformasi period, the country’s politically motivated transition to a democratic government. Their practices before and after this period illustrate the complex ways in which artists participated in this transition and were also changed by it.

The title of the exhibition originates in the phrase “after darkness comes the light” from the writings of Raden Adjeng Kartini, the daughter of the Regent of Jepara in Java and an icon and champion of women’s emancipation in Indonesia. The words of Kartini echo the desire of artists to find light after days of darkness, and their struggle to give a voice to the disenfranchised and those on the margins of society.

Featured artists: FX Harsono, Htein Lin, Dinh Q. Lê, Nge Lay, Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, The Propeller Group, Angki Purbandono, and Tintin Wulia. For more information about the artists visit the event website.

Be among the first to see the exhibition at the inaugural First Friday happy hour of the season on September 8!