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Traversing nationalities, Ties in History brings together art from 10 ASEAN states

Malaysian artist Chris Chong Chan Fui looking at some of the works exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila

As part of the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines brought together 10 contemporary artists from each of the member states to exhibit their works in three different museums.

Ties of History: Art in Southeast Asia features artists Amanda Heng of Singapore, Roberto Feleo of Philippines, Anusapati of Indonesia, Do Hoang Tuong of Vietnam, Savanhdary Vongpoothorn of Laos, Chris Chong Chan Fui of Malaysia, Jedsada Tangtrakulwong of Thailand, Min Thein Sung of Myanmar, Vuth Lyno of Cambodia, and Yasmin Jaidin of Brunei.

Noted Filipino curator, historian, and scholar Patrick Flores was tapped to curate the contemporary art exhibit that opened simultaneously in the Metropolitan Museum of Manila (August 8), The Yuchengco Museum (August 9), and the University of the Philippines – Vargas Museum (August 10).

(L-R) Artists Vuth Lyno, Chris Chong Chan Fui, Anusapati, Amanda Heng, Savanhdary Vongpoothorn, Roberto Feleo, Min Thein Sung, Jedsada Tangtrakulwong

Various practitioners in contemporary art in the ASEAN region were consulted in selecting the participating artists. The consultants include Ahman Mashadi, head of the National University of Singapore Museum; Khim Ong, deputy director of the Curatorial Programmes at Nanyang Technological University Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore; Loredana Pazzini – Paracciani, an independent curator, writer, and lecturer of Southeast Asian contemporary art; and Grace Samboh, an independent curator and scholar.

The aforementioned project is presented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) through the Dalubhasaan Para sa Edukasyon sa Sining at Kultura (DESK) with the support of the office of Sen. Loren Legarda.

Curator Patrick Flores described Ties of History as an ‘expedition’ and shows how a local art ecology can open up a wider atmosphere.

Curator Patrick Flores

NCAA chairman Virgilio Almario also expressed hoped that the public could spend time to visit the the three museums that exhibit the contemporary artworks showing the ASEAN identity, and to unravel the narrative that each artist presented.

The 10 artists have shared with us their works and realities presented to us as contemporary,” Almario said during the opening of the exhibit in the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, also known as MET Museum, last August 8.

Prior the opening, the NCCA chairman also called Ties of History as a tremendous occasion in which the government and private sector came together to promote and cultivate arts and culture.

The exhibition is in line with the vision of NCCA to nurture and better all forms of art,” Almario added.

While there are no plans yet to bring the exhibit to other countries or to hold a similar event in the next years, Flores and Almario expressed optimism to the idea, with the NCCA official saying that the other ASEAN states could be interested in the project.

Though she was not present during the opening at the MET Museum, Sen. Loren Legarda, in her message, hopes that the exhibit will be continued by other ASEAN countries, and will happen every year or the every two years.

I invite our ASEAN neighbors to continue this art project annually or in the form of a biennial in the same manner by which we host political and economic affairs in ASEAN,” Legarda said in her statement.

“Let us make art and culture an integral part of our regional integration so that we may truly be successful in building an ASEAN of ‘One Vision, One Identity, One Community’,” Legarda added.

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