Past Events

London, Asia, Art, Worlds conference: Pedagogy and Learning

Conference, Lecture – Aziz Sohail, Charmaine Toh, Chanon Kenji, Ming Tiampo, Naazish Ata-Ullah

  • 10 June 2021
  • 2:00 – 5:15 pm
  • This event is part of London, Asia, Art, Worlds, a multi-part programme of online events taking place in May and June 2021. It is envisioned as a murmuration, a series of interconnected papers, conversations, performances and interventions.
  • Zoom Webinar

The Pedagogy and Learning panel will examine the roles of art schools and universities in creating transnational historiographies of knowledge, methods and materials; as well as the tactics of learning against the grain practiced by students who become teachers for future generations.

Chair: Ming Tiampo (Professor of Art History, and co-director of the Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis at Carleton University)

Paper Abstracts

Aziz Sohail

This presentation delineates key moments of the encounter between London and Karachi from the 1980s through the 1990s by examining the artistic and pedagogical practice of Durriya Kazi, David Alesworth and Naiza Khan and their resultant impact on other artists in Karachi. Along with Iftikhar Dadi, Elizabeth Dadi and Samina Mansuri, Kazi, Alesworth and Khan were key interlocutors as first generation of the so-called Karachi Pop movement. Kazi and Alesworth studied at Kingston University in the 1980s where they first met and Khan was at Ruskin.

Set against the backdrop the Black Arts Movement and discourse around representation of identity and the nation as well as the inclusion of diverse artistic practices led by individuals such as Rasheed Araeen, Kazi, in particular was inspired to seek answers towards the potential of the encounter between high art and vernacular popular culture which she developed as a collaborative traveling artistic project, Art Caravan, in 1992 in Karachi.

Through their pedagogical practice at various art schools, including the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, the Karachi School of Art, Karachi University and the Vasl Artists’ Collective, these artists also fostered the development of emergent practices, which inspired by the rich visual culture of the city of Karachi, further developed this discourse.

The UK continued to be a strong influence in these encounters, for example through the 50th independence anniversary exhibition on British sculpture, A Changed World, organized by the British Council, which Alesworth’s students at that time also helped to organize and produce. Set against a broader constellation of exchange and community in Karachi the 1990s, which I have intensively researched and presented, I now turn my attention to the otherwise underexplored encounter between London and Karachi through pedagogy and circulation and its impact on these discourses in the 1990s that continued to inspire artists today.

Charmaine Toh

Artist Tang Da Wu (b. 1943) is a seminal figure in contemporary art in Singapore. He is credited with influencing a generation of artists, particularly through The Artists’ Village, an artist-run space he set up in his own home after his return from the UK in 1988. Tang had first moved from Singapore to the UK in 1971, spending four years at Birmingham Polytechnic for his undergraduate degree, followed by two years at St Martin's School of Art for further studies in sculpture and finally two years at Goldsmith’s College in the mid-1980s for his MFA. There has been surprisingly little scholarship about Tang’s time in the UK, but the period was a defining one where he established much of his core ideals on art as an open-ended and participatory practice; ideals which he subsequently fostered in Singapore. This presentation takes a historical and biographical approach to highlight certain aspects of Tang’s time in Birmingham and London. It will draw from a two-year-long research project that has included numerous interviews with the artist and recently unearthed archival material.

Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol

What is known as ‘neo-traditional’ Thai painting – with its Buddhist subject matter and formal basis in temple muralism – today appears a relic of a bygone moment. In most accounts, the meteoric boom of the genre during the 1980s and 1990s closely tracked the direction of state ideology and the fortunes of the nouveau riche in a rapidly globalizing economy. Lest this lineage of artistic practice devolve into a strawman for bourgeois nationalism, this paper seeks to historicize Thai neo-traditionalism as part of a transnational narrative of art and intellectual history. The ascendance of artists like Thawan Duchanee and Chalermchai Kositpipat owed much to a widely shared interest among Thai elites to promote the place of Buddhism in an international arena. That this story features a peculiarly British-educated cast – Khien Yimsiri (Chelsea College of Arts), Damrong Wong Uparaj (Slade School of Fine Art), Sulak Sivaraksa (Wales; SOAS), Kukrit Pramoj (Oxford) – has gone largely unnoticed.

I argue that these artists and writers – whose Anglophone education in comparative religion and exposure to the ideas of Buddhist reformists like B.R. Ambedkar – saw in the inheritance of Thai mural painting a way to work through the question of relationships between the native and the foreign, the friend and the enemy, and the human and the creaturely. This paper will focus specifically on an incident at the Thai Christian Student Association in 1971, where Thawan’s paintings of chimeric human-animal-architectural figures were slashed by vandals. The iconoclastic act prompted far-ranging discussions amongst public intellectuals that reveal the ways in which neo-traditional painting came to be imagined as the ideal vehicle of a peculiarly Buddhist-inflected internationalism, one mediated through the concept of phuen manut (literally, ‘friends of humans’; usually translated as ‘fellow men’ or ‘fellow creatures’).

London, Asia, Art, Worlds is convened by:

Hammad Nasar, Senior Research Fellow, Paul Mellon Centre
Ming Tiampo, Professor, Art History, and Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Sarah Victoria Turner, Deputy Director for Research, Paul Mellon Centre

Image caption: Tang Da Wu, Untitled, 1972, polystyrene and tree branches. Digital image courtesy of Tang Da Wu Toh


Pedagogy and Learning

Papers from Aziz Sohail, Charmaine Toh, and Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol.

About the speakers

  • Aziz Sohail against background of artwork.

    Aziz Sohail is an art curator, writer and researcher whose work is focused on building interdisciplinary connections and supporting new cultural and pedagogical infrastructures. Since 2020, with The Many Headed Hydra, he has been co-leading a language where yesterday are the same word. Kal, a trans*oceanic platform supporting practices enacting queer pasts/futures and decolonial ecologies. His current research is a meditation on the longue-duree intersections of sexuality and colonialism with migration, law and identity through the work of practitioners who navigate empire(s) and its afterlives.

    Previously he has been part of curatorial residencies and workshops with The New Art Gallery Walsall, England (2015), Curatorial Intensive South Asia 2018, Khoj, New Delhi, the Nepal Picture Library (2019), and the Young Curators Academy, Maxim Gorki Theater, Germany (2019). He has worked with organizations such as the British Council and the Lahore Biennale Foundation to build new cultural initiatives and spaces in Pakistan. As a South Asia Fellow at Cornell University in 2017, he began a long term project building an archive of cultural and visual production in Karachi from the 1990s through today which led to an exhibition-symposium at the Sharjah Art Foundation (2019).

  • Charmaine Toh headshot.

    Charmaine Toh received her PhD from the University of Melbourne and is a curator at National Gallery Singapore. Her research primarily looks at modern and contemporary art in Southeast Asia, with a focus on photography. Recent exhibitions include Chua Soo Bin: Truths & Legends, Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia. Previously, Charmaine was the Programme Director at Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film. She also co-curated the 2013 Singapore Biennale.

  • Chanon Kenji

    Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol is an art historian, writer, and Curator at Singapore Art Museum. He holds a PhD from University of Michigan, and previously held fellowships at Tate Britain and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. His research investigates, in the broadest sense, unorthodox formations of psychosocial and intellectual attachments to art – a line of inquiry that spans art history, anthropology, media theory, and religious studies. His writing has appeared in Artforum, Aperture, and British Art Studies, with the essay ‘David Medalla: Dreams of Sculpture’ forthcoming in Oxford Art Journal.

  • Headshot of Ming Tiampo, wearing a black shawl, in front of a red earthy background at Venice Biennale 2022

    Ming Tiampo is Professor of Art History, and co-director of the Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis at Carleton University. She is interested in transnational and transcultural models and histories that provide new structures for understanding and reconfiguring the global. She has published on Japanese modernism, global modernisms and diaspora. Tiampo’s book Gutai: Decentering Modernism (University of Chicago Press, 2011) received an honourable mention for the Robert Motherwell Book award. In 2013, she was co-curator with Alexandra Munroe of the AICA award-winning Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Her current book projects include Transversal Modernisms: The Slade School of Fine Art, a monograph which reimagines transcultural intersections through global microhistory, and Intersecting Modernisms, a collaborative sourcebook on global modernisms. Her latest book, Jin-me Yoon, is forthcoming with Art Canada Institute in 2022. Tiampo is an associate member at ici Berlin, a member of the Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational Advisory Board, a member of Asia Forum, a founding member of TrACE, the Transnational and Transcultural Arts and Culture Exchange network, and co-lead on its Worlding Public Cultures project.

  • Professor Naazish Ata-Ullah sitting at a dining table

    Professor Naazish Ata-Ullah is an artist, educator, curator, writer, social and human rights activist. She is a former Principal of the National College of Arts, Lahore where she began teaching in the mid 1980’s. During her extensive career she made major contributions towards institution-building at the NCA including founding and developing its printmaking department, its first studio Masters program, its library infrastructure and preservation, and its international exchange programs. She retired from Government service in 2010.

    Ata-Ullah has exhibited in Pakistan and abroad and has lectured widely, authored monographs, contributed to academic books and journals and curated exhibitions in Pakistan, in Finland and in the UK.She has served in a vast number of advisory roles at academic, cultural and social justice institutions. Currently she is a member of various academic boards, and is a member of the Punjab Higher Education Commission.

    Ata-Ullah studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and the Institute of Education, UCL, London and is a graduate of the National College of Arts and Kinnaird College for Women. She is a Senior Fellow in the School of Visual Art and Design at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore. The Republic of France awarded her the title of Knight in the Order of Arts and Literature in 2010, for services to art and culture, and the NCA conferred her with its Fellowship. She lives and works in Lahore, and continues to teach.