In Conversation : Blueprints for the Otherwise

Chan, JJ [Speaker], Wong, Sunshine [Speaker] and Teo, Wenny [Moderator] (2021) In Conversation : Blueprints for the Otherwise. In: Asian Art after Quarantine; 11 May 2021, London, U.K. (held online). (Frank Davis Memorial Lecture)


In this Frank Davis Memorial Lecture JJ Chan and Sunshine Wong will work through some ideas surrounding ‘critical care’ as an ethos for arts organisational infrastructure. Just over a year ago, JJ demanded ‘a radical reconfiguration of the artistic and curatorial conscience’, a call that was echoed in many variations as 2020 unfolded into global pandemic and unrest. Beyond institutional declarations of solidarity and Instagram black squares, what does this work actually involve? How does an organisational body ‘reconfigure’ itself? This conversation will describe the desires, aims and emergent processes of the 12-month residency programme Blueprints for the Otherwise at Bloc Projects, Sheffield. It will situate the speakers’ respective and collective positions in relation to the social and cultural events of the past year to pave the way for ‘critical care’ as an organisational ethos: ‘critical’ in the sense of urgency; ‘critical’ in the meaningful ways we nurture those around us. About the series ‘Asian Art after Quarantine’: Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, there has been a surge in racist attacks against Asian and Asian diasporic people across the globe; from everyday microaggressions to the recent mass shootings in Atlanta, USA, in March 2021. Yet, international media coverage has continued to disproportionally focus on the ‘China threat’ instead of giving voice and visibility to Asian communities. In solidarity with social justice movements and organisations such as #iamnotavirus, Stop AAPI Hate and StopDiscriminAsian (SDA), the 2021 Frank Davis Lecture Series presents a series of dialogues and conversations centred on Chinese and British-Chinese diasporic artistic experience in a turbulent year marked by city-wide quarantines and isolation, a scarcity of funding and public platforms for the arts, the unmasking of institutional structures of racism and anti-Asian violence. The Frank Davis Memorial Lecture Series is one of two annual distinguished lecture series at The Courtauld. This series was established in 1989, as a result of a bequest from the F.M. Kirby Foundation, in honour of Frank Davis, who was a critic for Country Life magazine. The bequest has allowed The Courtauld to invite internationally renowned scholars to come to the institute to speak about their work in a public forum.

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