Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, an artist of African descent, was born in London and grew up in Nigeria, returning to London only in his late teens. His work explores issues of colonialism and postcolonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation, as well as race and class. Mixing Western art history and literature, he questions the construct of collective contemporary identity and its meaning within cultural and national definitions. Shonibare has participated in major international art exhibitions, including the 52nd and 57th Venice Biennale and Documenta11. His works are in prominent collections, including the Tate Collection, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome; and VandenBroek Foundation, the Netherlands. In 2004, Shonibare was nominated for the Turner Prize, the most prestigious annual art prize in United Kingdom, and was awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). Fifteen years later, in January 2019, Shonibare was awarded Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). That same year, he held a solo exhibition at the Norval Foundation in Cape Town, Trade Winds: Yinka Shonibare CBE, which featured works connected by their use of Dutch wax fabric and a major installation that celebrates the contributions of immigrant and non-immigrant Africans, The African Library.

Diana Campbell Betancourt (b. 1984, United States) is currently Artistic Director of Samdani Art Foundation and Chief Curator of Dhaka Art Summit, Dhaka, Bangladesh, a major research and exhibition platform for art in South Asia. In addition, Betancourt is Artistic Director of Bellas Artes Projects, Bagac, Philippines. She has collaborated on commissions of Indian scupture with several sculpture parks across the world including, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, United Kingdom; de Cordova, Massachusetts, United States; and Wanas Konst, Malmö, Sweden. Betancourt has also curated numerous solo projects with artists such as Haroon Mirza, Simryn Gill, Tino Sehgal, Lynda Benglis, Shilpa Gupta, Shahzia Sikander, Naeem Mohaiemen, Runa Islam, Shumon Ahmed, Pawel Althamer among others. She chairs the board of the Mumbai Art Room, has been a Research Fellow at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, United Kingdom and the FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France.

The artist practice of Bui Cong Khanh (b. 1972, Vietnam) often addresses social and political implications embedded in the notion of cultural heritage. He first gained international recognition in the 1990s through performances that questioned restrictions of individual expression in his own country at a time of political turmoil. Initially focused on oil painting, his practice has come to encompass mediums such as sculpture, installation, video, and drawing often combining traditional fine arts and a conceptual approach.

Recent solo projects include exhibitions at Sàn Art and The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2016). His works have been presented at the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, Australia (2009); Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Thailand (2013 and 2015), and Arter, Istanbul, Turkey (2014). He currently lives and works between Ho Chi Minh City and Hoi An, Vietnam.

During the 1950s, in many Eastern Bloc countries, cultural houses and clubs were created to fulfil the utopian dream of providing ‘culture for everybody’ whilst also structuring opportunities for people to participate in the collective production of culture. At the same time, these communal environments often enabled the state to monitor leisure time and socio-cultural activities. In order to expand their long-term comparative research on these institutions, Irina Botea Bucan and Jon Dean will investigate the history and current role of community centres in Singapore. Aiming to produce an experimental documentary, they will conduct archival and sociological research to understand how these centres operate and the criteria by which they were designed and managed to provide a specific range of social, cultural, and educational activities at a foundational moment in the country’s history. In particular, they are interested in the process of community-building, the nature of people’s participation, and the role community centres played in the formation of Singapore’s post-colonial identity.

No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia is part of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative which was launched in April 2012, a multi-year collaboration that charts contemporary art practice in three geographic regions—South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa—and encompasses curatorial residencies, international touring exhibitions, audience-driven education programming, and acquisitions for the Guggenheim’s permanent collection.

Curated by June Yap, No Country at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore brought the artworks back to the Southeast Asia region from which many of the artists hail and called for an even closer examination of regional cultural representations and relations. This return suggests the possibility of a renewed understanding through a process of mutual rediscovery that transcends physical and political borders. The exhibition in Singapore also marked the debut of two works from the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund not previously shown as part of No Country: Loss by Sheela Gowda and Morning Glory by Sopheap Pich.

No country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia