Through three research strands – exhibitions, institutions and art schools – the London, Asia research project is working towards a more expanded and diverse narrative of British art. The project was initiated in June 2016 and its first phase finished in June 2019. Its second phase runs from July 2019 to June 2021.
It posits London as a key, yet under-explored, site in the construction of art historical narratives in Asia and reflects on the ways in which the growing field of modern and contemporary art history in Asia intersects with, and challenges, existing histories of British art. It was established in collaboration with Asia Art Archive.
Our intent is not to map the world – but to privilege testing approaches that engage with this terrain in a systematic but open-ended way; that socialise and convene a field of new research possibilities. The guiding principles for London, Asia are:
- To experiment with approaches and methodologies for researching and writing about connections, encounters, and differences across and within nations, regions, and cultures
- To “socialise” a field of enquiry, by which we mean convene events and gatherings (physical and virtual) to discuss and debate the new research possibilities of London, Asia
- To create art histories which are not siloed into neat categories, but that can exceed boundaries
- To build a project that is not self-contained, but can “infect” other projects and researchers working across art produced by artists from Britain, Asia and their diaspora
Our title – London, Asia – is purposefully provocative. The juxtaposition suggests displacement and invites a kind of dissonance; for example, by bringing a city into proximity with a continent. It is also a claim on London, a city that exceeds and complicates easy nationalist framings, and Asia, a region so vast and diverse that it resists any homogenising categorisation. We embrace this ambiguity, uneasiness of scale, and resistance to sharp definition. The project does not propose a comparative framework; instead, it encourages new perspectives on the entanglements, historic and contemporary, between London (and more broadly Britain) and Asia.