No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Through May 22

By: - Feb 21, 2013


From February 22 through May 22, 2013, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York will present No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, the inaugural exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. The New York presentation features work by 22 artists and collectives representing some of the most compelling and innovative voices in South and Southeast Asia today. Focusing on the region's shifting spectrum of creative practices, the exhibition traces networks of intellectual exchange and influence, and considers the various impacts of ethno-nationalism, colonization, and globalization on national identity. The exhibition features painting, sculpture, photography, video, works on paper, and installation, the majority of which will be on view in the United States for the first time. All works have been newly acquired for the Guggenheim’s collection under the auspices of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund. Following its presentation in New York, No Countrywill travel to Asia Society Hong Kong Center, October 2013-February 2014. The exhibition is also expected to travel to Singapore.

The exhibition both expands the Guggenheim’s global dialogue and significantly increases its holdings of art from these dynamic communities. Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, stated: “With No Country, we begin to take local, regional, and global audiences into a deeper, more rewarding, and, we hope, more nuanced cultural exchange. As the exhibition’s title suggests, we have tried to take nothing for granted—including the concept of ‘country’ itself—in thinking about the art that is now being made, in adding to our mutual knowledge and understanding across borders, and in building a vital area of the Guggenheim’s collection.”

"The beauty of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative is that it allows us to spotlight regions which have so far been rather under-represented in the largely Western-centric international art scene” said CEO of UBS Wealth Management Jürg Zeltner. “We recognize the immense economic potential, which these regions have, and they are high on our own list of priorities. But their importance will not only be measurable in business terms. They are challenging the Western world's virtual monopoly in many disciplines. Art is something which many of our clients are very passionate about, and our collaboration with the Guggenheim makes an ideal fit with our long-term objectives: the promotion, education and collection of art among a wide audience at an international and local level."

Launched in April 2012, the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative is a multi-year collaboration that charts contemporary art in three geographic regions—South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa—and encompasses curatorial residencies, international touring exhibitions, audience-driven educational programming, and acquisitions for the Guggenheim’s permanent collection. Conceived to engage a range of audiences, including artists, curators, and educators, Guggenheim UBS MAP seeks to stimulate dialogue and creative interaction both regionally and globally, fostering lasting relationships among institutions, artists, scholars, museumgoers, and online communities. The program builds upon and reflects the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s distinguished history of internationalism.

No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia is curated by June Yap, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, South and Southeast Asia, with assistance from Helen Hsu, Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and guidance from Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, Alexandra Munroe. Additional curatorial staff members will provide expertise and oversight throughout the project. Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, and Joan Young, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, provide curatorial oversight for the entire multi-year Initiative.

Exhibition Overview
Drawn from the opening line in W.B. Yeats’s poem “Sailing to Byzantium” (1928), which was later adopted by Cormac McCarthy for his novel No Country for Old Men (2005), the exhibition title No Country evokes the concept of a culture without borders. Investigating the diversity of contemporary artistic practice in South and Southeast Asia through the work of a cross-generational selection of artists and in the context of the region’s historically-shifting borders, the exhibition traces the complex relationships and cultural influences that connect the area’s people to each other and the rest of the world. Among the works’ themes are: concepts of nation, identity, and religion; cross-cultural encounters and negotiation; and historical interpretation and narrative.

Of the works chosen for the exhibition, Yap notes: “There is a tremendous diversity of artistic practice in South and Southeast Asia, and certainly more artists and artworks than any single project can accommodate. In this exhibition, the intention is both to present the range of aesthetic developments and subjects of interest to contemporary artists, and simultaneously challenge the privileging of nation and national narrative as the basis for understanding aesthetic practices from different countries. The hope is that these artworks will contribute to a deeper and more critical understanding of the region, both for audiences in the United States and those in Asia. Accompanied by programs for engagement with different local and international audiences, No Country is more than an exhibition alone, it is a platform for discussion and exchange, and for the undoing of barriers to mutual understanding.”

The artists in the exhibition are:
• Amar Kanwar (b. 1964, New Delhi, India)
• Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook (b. 1957, Trad, Thailand)
• Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo (b. 1978, Bandung, Indonesia)
• Aung Myint (b. 1946, Yangon, Myanmar)
• Bani Abidi (b. 1971, Karachi, Pakistan)
• Ho Tzu Nyen (b. 1976, Singapore)
• Khadim Ali (b. 1978, Quetta, Pakistan)
• Navin Rawanchaikul (b. 1971, Chiang Mai, Thailand)
• Norberto Roldan (b. 1953, Roxas City, Philippines)
• Poklong Anading (b. 1975, Manila, Philippines)
• Reza Afisina (b. 1977, Bandung, Indonesia)
• Shilpa Gupta (b. 1976, Mumbai, India)
• Tang Da Wu (b. 1943, Singapore)
• Tayeba Begum Lipi (b. 1969, Gaibandha, Bangladesh)
• The Otolith Group (est. 2002, London)
• The Propeller Group (est. 2006, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Los Angeles, California)
• Tran Luong (b. 1960, Hanoi, Vietnam)
• Truong Tan (b. 1963, Hanoi, Vietnam)
• Tuan Andrew Nguyen (b. 1976, Saigon, Vietnam)
• Vincent Leong (b. 1979, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
• Wah Nu (b. 1977, Yangon, Myanmar) and Tun Win Aung (b. 1975, Yalutt, Myanmar)
• Wong Hoy Cheong (b. 1960, George Town, Malaysia)

Exhibition Tour
Following its debut at the Guggenheim, No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia will travel to Asia Society Hong Kong Center, October 2013-February 2014. The exhibition is also expected to travel to a venue in Singapore. These exhibitions may be supplemented by additional works not originally shown in New York but acquired for the Guggenheim's collection. Guggenheim staff will collaborate with curators and educators at the tour venues to adapt these presentations to the specific interests and needs of audiences in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund Permanent Collection Additions
In addition to the works exhibited in New York and in the exhibition tour, the Guggenheim is in the process of acquiring works by Kamin Lertchaiprasert (b. 1964, Lop Buri, Thailand), Simryn Gill (b. 1959, Singapore), Sopheap Pich (b. 1971, Battambang, Cambodia), and Vandy Rattana (b. 1980, Phnom Penh, Cambodia), which will become part of the Guggenheim’s collection through the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund. The works include photography, sculpture, and works on paper and will be exhibited by the Guggenheim to a variety of audiences in the future. All works acquired by the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund will be published on the museum’s website at

Expanding the Dialogue, On the Ground and Online
As part of its mission to encourage cross-cultural dialogue about contemporary art and cultural practice, the Guggenheim is presenting an extensive and innovative series of discussions and commentaries, accessible both at participating venues in South and Southeast Asia and New York City, and online on the Initiative’s website. The Guggenheim staff has engaged in a far-reaching professional exchange with the artists, the project curator, and other colleagues from participating institutions to develop a series of public, academic, and family programs in conjunction with No Country, with accompanying resource materials. These programs were launched on November 28, 2012, with a conversation titled MAP: Regarding South and Southeast Asia, at the Jim Thompson Art Center in Bangkok, Thailand. Hosting the conversation were Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; June Yap; and Gridthiya Gaweewong, Artistic Director, The Jim Thompson Art Center.

The Initiative’s online platform features written texts, audio, and video by curators, art historians, artists, and regional experts. Items posted to date include in-depth essays on aspects of the region by artist and art historian Iftikhar Dadi, who shares his perspective on contemporary curatorial practice in South Asia, and by Patrick D. Flores, Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the University of the Philippines at Diliman, who writes on the complexity of art in Southeast Asia both historically and today. Other contributions include a conversation between Roger MacDonald, Deputy Director of Arts Initiative Tokyo and Indonesian sound artist Duto Hardono; an article about politically infused Indonesian street art by writer and graphic designer Leonhard Bartolomeus; and a piece about the changing relationship between the Asian and Australian art scenes by Russell Storer, Head of Asian and Pacific Art at Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. Also featured are writer and filmmaker Aung Min’s personal history of documentary filmmaking in Myanmar, and artist and curator Veronika Radulovic’s look at the recent flowering of public performance art in Vietnam. New contributions will be added to the online platform throughout the project, and readers are invited to respond to the provocative “Sound Off” questions appended to each.

About June Yap
In spring 2012, an advisory committee of five esteemed experts in South and Southeast Asian art recommended candidates from which June Yap was selected as the first Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator. Originally based in Singapore, Ms. Yap has been an independent curator since 2008, working with artists throughout the region. Most recently, she organized an exhibition of the work of Ho Tzu Nyen for the Singapore Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale. In 2010, Ms. Yap curated You and I, We’ve Never Been so Far Apart: Works From Asia for the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv for the International Video Art Biennial.

About the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Founded in 1937, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The global network that began in the 1970s when the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was joined by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, has expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which opened 1997, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi currently in development. Looking to the future, the Guggenheim Foundation continues to forge international collaborations that take contemporary art, architecture, and design beyond the walls of the museum. More information about the Foundation can be found at

About UBS
UBS draws on its 150-year heritage to serve private, institutional, and corporate clients worldwide, as well as retail clients in Switzerland. Its business strategy is centered on its global wealth management businesses and its universal bank in Switzerland. Together with a client-focused Investment Bank and a diversified Global Asset Management business, UBS will drive further growth and expand its wealth management franchise. Throughout its history UBS has actively supported cultural and artistic endeavors across the world, with a focus on promotion, collection, and educational activities in the world of contemporary art. Longstanding commitments to the internationally renowned art fairs Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach, the UBS Art Collection, and the UBS Art Competence Center offer a comprehensive and varied platform for art enthusiasts, students, and UBS clients to participate in the art world. Regional partnerships with organizations such as the Swiss Institute in New York, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, Fondation Beyeler in Switzerland, and Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, and numerous exhibition sponsorships at leading museums around the world, testify to the passion for contemporary art which UBS shares with its clients.

Visitor Information
Admission: Adults $22, students/seniors (65+) $18, members and children under 12 free. Available with admission or downloadable to your own device, the Guggenheim’s new, free interactive app offers an enhanced visitor experience. Included in the app will be exclusive multimedia content for No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia including audio on artworks and artists, a verbal imaging tour for the visually impaired, and a kids tour as well as access to more than 900 works in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection and information about the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building.

Museum Hours: Sun-Wed, 10 am-5:45 pm; Fri, 10 am-5:45 pm; Sat, 10 am-7:45 pm; closed Thurs. On Saturdays, beginning at 5:45 pm, the museum hosts Pay What You Wish. For general information, call 212 423 3500.


Social Media  

For updates on the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, follow #GuggUBSMAP on Twitter.

For inquiries about UBS:

UBS Americas
Karina Byrne
212 882 5692

UBS Switzerland
Christoph Meier
+41 44 234 83 16

UBS Asia Pacific
Tim Cobb
852 2971 8200