Southeast Asian Arts Forum 2021: Schoolhouse Mavericks

28-30 July 2021
The Ngee Ann Kongsi Galleries 1 & 2, and online

The Southeast Asian Arts Forum returned for a second edition this year, and the event is the Institute of Southeast Asian Arts’ first-ever hybrid forum to include livestreamed presentations, performances and dialogues to inspire a practice-led teaching and learning of Southeast Asian arts.

The hybrid event presented a platform of thinking back to smaller hothousing and finding new ways to communicate and consume ideas through the arts. This year, the forum welcomed 32 speakers across multiple artistic disciplines, some of whom were presenting live from NAFA's campus while others streamed in from 8 different cities. Collectively, the speakers facilitated an exchange of knowledge from the community to the classroom and vice versa.

These Southeast Asian artists and educators brought to the forum what is current, what is urgent and what could be a future alternative following the current state of transitions in the recent pandemic and its related developments.


Day 1: A group of students from NAFA's Gamelan programme performing alongside their teacher, Alicia de Silva. Entitled ' A Creative Journey with Gamelan', this opening performance explored unconvetional forms for the Gamelan, which also included the use of piccolo and erhu.

Day 1: Indonesian artist Ari Bayuaji streamed in from his textile-weaving workshop in Bali, where he discussed his long-term project involving members of the local community to recycle found plastic objects, turning them into materials for his artworks.

Day 1: Nin Djani and Evelyn Huang from Jakarta-based curatorial collective ARCOLABS collaborated with artist Yulian Ardhi during their presentation entitled ' Made In Cirebon'. The session demonstrated how educators and local artists could manipulate digital technology to create a blended creative learning experience in the post-pandemic education system.

Day 1: Presenter Evelyn Huang from ARCOLABS alongside a student streaming in from the School of the Arts (SOTA), Singapore, as part of an audience interaction session.

Day 1: Preeti Gaonkar from Asia-Europe Foundation's Culture 360 shared the organisation's work in facilitating cultural exchange between creative individuals from the two regions through their online platform and their e-residency programmes.

Day 2: Presentation by playwright and director Chong Tze Chien, entitled ' Adapting and Reinventing Asian Classics on the Modern Stage'.

Day 2: Members of the Sculpture Society (Singapore) discussed the topic of object making in a digital world. On stage, from left: Nyan Soe, Ong Si Hui, Wong Gin Ming, Chen Sai Hua Kuan. The four artists were joined by their fellow society member, Subashri Sankarasubramanian, who streamed in from India.

Day 2: Panelists discussing the importance of physical interactions and relationships in cultural expressions, as well as the concept of Southeast Asian identities. On stage, from left: Georgette Yu, Alicia de Silva, Dr Filomar Tariao, Dr Bridget Tracy Tan, Yeo Chee Kiong, and Chong Tze Chien. They were joined by Sherman Ong, Sophia Shung, and Rajinder Singh, who were streaming in from Malaysia and United Kingdom, respectively.

Day 3: Dr Bridget Tracy Tan introducing Thai presenter Dr Paphutsorn Koong Wongratanapitak who was streaming in from Bangkok to speak about how performing artists in Bangkok have been coping with the transitions caused by drastic changes in the tourism industry.

Day 3: Panelists discussing the relationship between urban and rural communities in the Southeast Asian context of making art. From left : Grace Leong, Muhammad Norisham bin Osman, Dr Bridget Tracy Tan, Preeti Gaonkar.

Day 3: Panelists streaming in to join the dialogue session. Clockwise from top left : Choy Chun Wei from Kuala Lumpur, Evelyn Huang from Jakarta, Kanakan Balintagos from Manila, Dr Paphutsorn Koong Wongratanapitak from Bangkok, Ari Bayuaji from Bali, alongside the panelists on stage at the Ngee Ann Kongsi Galleries, NAFA.

A selection of Video on Demand presentations on the Southeast Asian Arts Forum's online streaming platform, which feature works from Malaysian artist Cheng Yen Pheng, Indonesian artist Antonius Cong, and street artist Anagard, among others.

Southeast Asian Arts Forum 2021: Schoolhouse Mavericks