Contemporary Asia In All Dimensions - 2017 Ozasia Visual Art Program

Posted by Adelaide Festival Centre on Friday 1 September 2017

The search for Utopia, the unique cultures of Macau, the constantly changing Chinese landscape and a literal interpretation of the Chinese character for ‘’home’’…these are just some of the themes explored by artists in this year’s OzAsia Festival visual art component, on display at various Adelaide venues at selected times during September, October and onwards.

After Utopia: Revisiting the Ideal in Asian Contemporary Art is on view at the Samstag Museum of Art, curated by Singapore Art Museum’s Siuli Tan and Louis Ho, and presented in partnership with the Samstag Museum of Art and 2017 OzAsia Festival. An Australian premiere, the exhibition features artworks on loan from Singapore Art Museum’s extensive permanent collection of contemporary Southeast Asian art, which is one of the largest in the world. Through installations, moving image, paintings and sculptures, the exhibition explores how our ideals mirror our innermost yearnings, and that gnawing sense that this world and its realities are not enough.

Artworks on display include Shannon Lee Castleman’s video work (filmed on 16 different video cameras in Singapore apartment blocks facing one another) of residents going about their daily domestic tasks, in both a nod to the constant public surveillance most of us are constantly subjected to, and to breaking down barriers between strangers living so closely together; Geraldine Javier’s painting depicting vivid imagery of flowers, butterflies and foliage surrounding a solitary female figure with downcast eyes, strongly resembling Frida Kahlo but also representing the ‘’first woman’’ Eve and the artist herself, alludes to the complex struggles all three have faced as women and to the notion of this world as a twilight paradise; Donna Ong’s installation, comprising a colonial study-desk and paraphernalia alluding to themes of voyage, discovery and study strewn across its surface, as well as projections of 18th and 19th century lithographs of nature landscapes, are inspired by her interest in landscapes and gardens, and narratives of exploration and conquest.

22 Sept – 1 Dec, Samstag Museum of Art, The University of South Australia

Ms Siuli Tan, Curatorial Co-Head, Singapore Art Museum, says:
"We are really thrilled to have this opportunity to introduce contemporary art from Southeast Asia and from the Singapore Art Museum’s collection to new audiences in Australia. From my previous visit to Adelaide as well as from conversations with different people, I get the sense that audiences here are not very familiar with Southeast Asian contemporary art yet, and my colleagues and I hope that the exhibition at Samstag will be a compelling introduction to the breadth of art practices and approaches to art-making today in this very dynamic and complex region.’’

"While a lot of the artworks were created in response to quite specific contexts, they do also have a universal resonance, as does the theme of the exhibition. We presented this exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum two years ago, and two years on, I'm seeing new connections that can be made between the artworks and emerging global issues – issues that are urgent, and that impact us all. Apart from enjoying the diversity of artistic practices on show, we're also hoping that visitors will find meaning in the questions raised by the artworks and the exhibition, and see parallels with their own situations and interests.’’

Erica Green, Director, The University of South Australia’s Samstag Museum of Art, says:
"We are delighted to partner with the Singapore Art Museum and the Adelaide Festival Centre’s OzAsia Festival to present this exhibition. After Utopia: Revisiting the Ideal in Asian Contemporary Art gives visitors the opportunity to contemplate the universal human yearning for an ideal world, through the diverse and compelling practices of artists from across South East Asia. It is a great privilege to offer this glimpse into one of the largest collections of such work in the world.’’

Several other exhibitions are also on display as part of OzAsia. The hidden delights and history of glittery, glitzy Macau – the oldest European settlement in Asia – are brought to life through words, music, media and imagery in the world premiere of Macau Days. Artwork by Australian, Hong Kong-born painter John Young, is displayed alongside of written compositions by Brian Castro and musical installations by Luke Harrald, both based in Adelaide.  23 Sept – 8 Oct, Migration Museum

Contemporary Chinese life and its rapid change are the focus of Shifting Permanence, with performance art, installation, photography and video artworks on display from China’s Chengdu Blue Roof Museum, one of that country’s most significant and prestigious contemporary art centres. 7 Sept – 7 Oct, Artspace Gallery, Adelaide Festival Centre

In her first Australian exhibition, A Place Never Been Seen Is Not A Place, Hong Kong’s Doris Wong has taken everyday objects and instilled in them deeper hidden meanings, memories and even some secret moments. Objects on display include….. 7 Sept – 6 Oct, Nexus Gallery  

In Home, Hong Kong artist GayBird Leung has created an immersive experience for Adelaide University’s Goodman Lawns, which itself will play home to 81 individually created houses on springs, each one housing a small pig. Leung was inspired both by the Chinese character for home (a pig under a roof) and by Adelaide’s evident love of pigs through such public works as the Rundle Mall sculptures. Open 24 hours, the installation is further complimented by playful sounds, and at night by a brilliant white light. It has been commissioned by the Confucius Institute at The University of Adelaide, with assistance from the Art Gallery of South Australia and Adelaide Festival Centre (to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Confucius Institute in Adelaide). 3 – 15 Oct, Goodman Lawns (outside of Elder Hall, The University of Adelaide, North Tce)

Lastly, until 29 October, audiences can gain a deeper insight into Buddhism via a selection of work from India, Burma, Thailand, Nepal, Tibet, China, Japan and contemporary Australia in Awakening: Art of Buddhism at the Art Gallery of South Australia. The exhibition title, as well as the sculptures, paintings and ritual artefacts on display, refer to the exact moment when Indian prince Siddhartha achieved enlightenment and became known as the Buddha.

All exhibitions are free entry, and the full list of events and talks can be found in the OzAsia Festival brochure or online at

After Utopia is organized by Singapore Art Museum and supported by Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Singapore; and Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia.

2017 OzAsia Festival is supported by the Government of South Australia, Arts South Australia and Brand South Australia.

Media materials including high resolution images and biographies are available at Dropbox: 

For further information on OzAsia Festival and all interview requests please contact:

Primary Contact
Sophie Gardner – Publicity Executive (08) 8216 8796 / 0402 593 672 

Secondary Contacts
Francesca Belperio – Publicity Executive (08) 8216 8699 / 0402 842 204
Clare Axford – Publicity Coordinator (08) 8216 8507 / 0414 794 400