Block Spring 2004: The Continuum: Ancient Technologies, Borders and Transcendence

16 February to 25 April 2004

The semester started on 1 March 2004 and ended on 31 August 2004


Ong Keng Sen (SG)

Participating artists:

Michiel Alberts (NL), Oumar Mbengue Atakosso (SN), Alexandra Bachzetsis (GR/CH), Hassan Choubassi (LB), Jeanette Groenendaal (NL), Birgitta Hacham (S), Rima Kaddissi (LB), Zbigniew Maciak (PL), Marta Pisco (P), Anat Stainberg (IL), Margreet Sweerts (NL), Ji-Hyun Youn (KR), Peter S. Petralia (USA)

This block focused on the continuum between contemporary practice and ancient Asian arts, ranging from Sanskrit theatre (Kutiyattum) of 1000 years ago to Thai classical painting to the Japanese Noh theatre of Zeami. How can contemporary practice draw from the conceptual frameworks of these ancient arts, for instance? How can we initiate creative interventions, which would transcend these borders? What are creative individuals suggesting as strategies for transcendence in the foreseeable future?

The block juxtaposed encounters with young asylum seekers who are suspended in a threshold zone between memory and a sustainable future in a new country, ethnic conflicts and religious movements, which have banned art forms, based on charges of animistic shaman beliefs. The urban Asian societies of today, with their increasing embrace of consumerism and functionality, have relegated traditional arts into rarefied, endangered spaces. How do these ancient practices fight back and continue to engage the life of the future?

Concurrent with the strategy of ancient technologies, which advocates one way of transcending borders, the practice of, a new media art group, also interrogates technology. Working with the students, pointed to the continuing limitations in the technological wave of the future. In the middle of the Block the students were encouraged to transgress borders through entering the performative dimension of everyday fantasy, bondage, adventurous sex of bdsm (bondage, dominatrix, sado-masochism). In sessions with Fetish Diva Midori and Bangkok queer artist Michael Shaowanasai.

In the final phase of the Block, students brought everyday life, daily narratives, into the space of art. Challenging the borders of art itself, students documented narratives on the margins. Through a series of fractures, disjunctures and a subsequent wondrous reconstruction, the ultimate transcendence came through the seduction of a specific viewpoint that disrupted and realigned.

Guest teachers:

Richard Emmert (J/USA), Wu Wen Guang (CN), Sakarin Krue-On (TH), Vivian Lee (SG) assistant, Charles Lim Yi Yong (SG), Andy Logam-Tan (SG), Margi Madhu (IN), Akira Matsui (J), Fetish Diva Midori (USA/J), Matthew Ngui (SG/AUS), Marian Pastor Roces (PH), Margi Ramanunni (IN), Aida Redza (MY)