As a writer, curator, and lecturer based in London with professional interests in contemporary visual arts development, gallery management, museums, and public art, Piers Masterson has curated and commissioned numerous exhibitions and projects by artists including Sinta Tantra, Chila Burman, Suki Chan, Mona Hatoum, Faisal Abdu’Allah, and Isaac Julien, and has been closely working with the British Museum’s Raffles Collection.

Research Focus

In addition to publishing of History of Java (1817), Raffles curated displays of objects and pictures from Southeast Asia in his London homes. Through these displays, Raffles promoted several archetypes for colonial fantasies of Southeast Asia that were recirculated through the 20th century. During the fellowship, Masterson will examine the ways in which contemporary Singaporean artists appropriate and re-contextualise these images of the tropics for their specific aims.

While in residence Bojana Piškur aims to further the scope of her current research on the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) exploring the political and cultural implications of this global movement in the context of Singapore and Southeast Asia. Piškur will spend time conducting archival research on the NAM and will also explore possibilities for future collaborations in the region, engaging and connecting with local institutions and artists that focus on socio-political issues.

Zarina Bhimji’s work spans a range of media – from installations to photography, from film to sound. Often in her work, Bhimji engages with her family story. Of Indian descent, born in Uganda, Bhimji and her family left the country in the wake of Idi Amin’s expulsion of the South Asians community. Bringing aesthetic to the fore, Bhimji’s approach to colonial history is defined by a strong visual language that resists simplifications and predictable interpretations of the work.

Bhimji’s work has been shown extensively both in the UK and abroad and her solo shows include De Appel Arts Centre (2012-2013), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2012; The New Gallery, Walsall (2012), Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern (2012), Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2009), Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2009). Bhimji’s work has also been shown at He Disappeared Into Complete Silence, De Hallen Museum, Haarlem (2011), ARS11 – Africa in Kouvola, Kouvola (2011), Göteburg International Biennal, Göteburg (2011); 29th Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Capturing Time, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (2009), Zones of Contact, Biennale of Sydney (2006). Her first film, Out of Blue was commissioned, produced by and presented in 2002 at documenta 11, Kassel.  Zarina Bhimji was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2007, received a DAAD award in 2002 and was a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Visual Arts Award in 1999.

Non-Aligned in the press! Read Stephanie Bailey’s article in Ocula and Object Lessons Space‘s interview with Dr Karin Oen, the Centre’s Deputy Director of Curatorial Programmes.

The Unfinished Conversation (2012), John Akomfrah (United Kingdom), Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017), Naeem Mohaiemen (Bangladesh/United States), Nucleus of the Great Union (2017), The Otolith Group (United Kingdom)

The British Empire spanned from Asia to Australia to Africa to America to the Caribbean. The various colonial territories gained their sovereignty and independence at different times, in processes of decolonization that played out in the histories of nations, but also determined the lives of individuals. Non-Aligned brings together three moving-image works by artists, filmmakers, and writers that inquire into the challenging transition periods from colonial rule to the independence of nations.

The presented works apply archival material in different ways. The focus spans from the work and personal histories of intellectuals who experienced these unprecedented circumstances first-hand, including Jamaican-born British theorist Stuart Hall (1932-2014) and African American novelist Richard Wright (1908-1960), to the history of political organization around the Non-Aligned Movement. This process of examining the interconnected stories of place, identity, and the conscious assertion of difference from established Western narratives, is also embedded in the personal histories of the artists.

The Non-Aligned Movement was formally established in 1961 on principles such as world peace and cooperation, human rights, anti-racism, respect, disarmament, non-aggression, and justice. At the height of the Cold War, a large group of African, Asian, and Latin American countries navigating post-colonial constellations attempted a diversion from the two major powers—the United States and the Soviet Union—forming what is to date the largest grouping of states worldwide, after the United Nations. The non-aligned nations, which Singapore joined in 1970, wished to secure independence and territorial sovereignty, and fight against imperialism, domination, and foreign interference.

This history is at the core of Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017), a feature-length three-channel video installation by Naeem Mohaiemen. It explores Bangladesh’s historical pivot from the socialist perspective of the 1973 Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Algeria to the emergence of a petrodollar-funded Islamic perspective at the 1974 Organisation of Islamic Countries meeting in Lahore. Recounted by Algerian publisher Samia Zennadi, Bangladeshi politician Zonayed Saki, and Indian historian Vijay Prashad, Mohaiemen’s film considers the erosion of the idea of “Third World” as a political space that was to open the potential for decoloniality and socialism, while articulating the internal contradictions behind its unfortunate failure.

In the video essay Nucleus of the Great Union (2017), The Otolith Group traces Richard Wright on his first trip to Africa in 1953. Travelling the Gold Coast for 10 weeks, he witnessed political campaigns for independence in West Africa, yet feeling alienation at his first encounter with the continent. For this film, The Otolith Group reconciled excerpts from Wright’s book Black Power: A Record of Reactions in a Land of Pathos (1954) with a selection of the over 1,500 previously unpublished photographs the writer took on his journey. Wright’s initially intended book including both text and photos was inadequately published without images. Through this work, The Otolith Group finally honors Wright’s initial aim of seeing image and text as one single narration.

The Unfinished Conversation (2012) is an in-depth inquiry by filmmaker John Akomfrah into the personal archive of audio interviews and television recordings of the influential theorist and educator Stuart Hall. The multi-screen film installation unfolds as a layered journey through the paradigm-changing work of the late intellectual, regarded as a key founder of cultural studies, who triangulated gender, race, and class. Hall was particularly invested in black identity linked to the history of colonialism and slavery.

Amplifying and celebrating defining voices and intertwining personal lives with political movements, the featured works in Non-Aligned examine not only the new possibilities for progressive social and independence movements but also the inherent struggles that define the post-WWII period.

Non-Aligned is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU.

This programme features films that engage post-colonial processes covering different moments and geopolitical contexts. The Asian-African Conference in 1955, known as the Bandung Conference, amidst the complex processes of decolonization, established self-determination, non-aggression, and equality as part of the core values that then formed the Non-Aligned Movement. This history is unpacked and contextualised through this series of screenings.

Co-curated by writer and curator Mark Nash and film researcher Vladimir Seput.

Accompanying this exhibition is a library of over 50 books on postcolonialism, decoloniality, the history of the Cold War, the Non-Aligned Movement, archiving, as well as theory of the moving image and publications on and by John Akomfrah, Naeem Mohaiemen, and The Otolith Group. Authors include Frantz Fanon, Stuart Hall, and Richard Wright, as well as Kodwo Eshun, Rosalind C. Morris, Bojana Piškur and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, among many others.

In light of COVID-19, we have removed the reading corner for the safety of our visitors.

We have selected texts on, or in conversation with, some of them to be used for online reading groups. These additional texts including articles by Vijay Prashad and Elspeth Probyn, and book chapters by Adil Johan and S.R. Joey Long.

Designed for young audiences aged 13 and above, the Non-Aligned activity cards explore several core themes of the exhibition through thoughtful reflection questions and engaging activities. While the Centre strongly encourages audiences to experience the artworks in person, the cards may also be used independently at home or in the classroom.

Falke Pisano’s current research addresses the development of modern science and its process of institutionalization. Started in 2015, The Value of Mathematics explores the cultural implications of Western paradigms that posit mathematics as the objective language of the natural world. The notions of progress, rationality and universality embedded in the official discourse are destabilized as the artist negotiates different modes of thinking and opens up the possibility for diversity, pluralism, and heterogeneity in the realm of empirical sciences. During the residency she plans to broaden her understanding of colonial history and practices of decolonization by exploring the context of Southeast Asia. Conjunctly, she also intends to focus on biomedicine—the enduring paradigm of 20th century medicine that has shaped a normative idea of the body— exploring the influence of different cultural conditions on the creation of a multiplicity of bodies.

John Akomfrah is a highly respected artist and filmmaker of Ghanaian descent, living and working in London. His works are characterised by their investigations into memory, postcolonialism, temporality, and aesthetics, often exploring the experiences of migrant diasporas globally. He combines text, music, and archival documents to shift debates on politics, media, and conventional historic narratives. Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, which started in London in 1982 alongside the artists David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, who he still collaborates with today. He has had numerous solo exhibitions including ICA Boston (2019); New Museum, New York (2018); Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham (2018); SFMOMA, San Francisco (2018); Barbican, London (2017); Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen (2016); and Tate Britain, London (2013-14). He has participated in the Ghana Pavilion, 58th and 56th Venice Biennale (2019 and 2015); Prospect 4, New Orleans (2017); La Triennale di Milano (2017); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2017); SeMA, Seoul (2014); Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013); Liverpool Biennial (2012); and Taipei Biennial (2012). He was awarded the Artes Mundi Prize in 2017.

Naeem Mohaiemen was born in London and grew up in Dhaka. In his works, he uses film, installation, and essays to research socialist utopias and incomplete decolonisation. Despite underscoring the left’s historic errors, a hope for a future global left is always a basis for the work. Mohaiemen is author of Midnight’s Third Child (Nokta, 2020) and Prisoners of Shothik Itihash (Kunsthalle Basel, 2014); co-editor (with Eszter Szakacs) of Solidarity Must be Defended (Tranzit, 2020); and co-editor (with Lorenzo Fusi) of System Error: War is a Force that Gives us Meaning (Sylvana, 2007). Solo exhibitions include Tripoli Banchal, Bengal Foundation, Dhaka (2020); There is no Last Man, Museum of Modern Art (PS1), New York (2017); and My Mobile Weighs a Ton, Gallery Chitrak, Dhaka (2008). Group exhibitions include Chobi Mela (2019, 2017, 2009); Lahore Biennial (2018); documenta 14 (2017); Venice Biennale (2015); and Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014). Mohaiemen has worked in activist collectives in New York (Gulf Labor Coalition, Visible Collective, 3rd i South Asian Film, South Asia Solidarity Network) and Dhaka (Drishtipat, Alal O Dulal). He was nominated for the 2018 Turner Prize, London, and is a 2020-21 postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, New York.

The Otolith Group is an award-winning artist-led collective founded by Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun in 2002. Their moving image, audio works, performances, and installations are characterised by an engagement with the legacies and potentialities of diasporic futurisms that explore modes of temporal anomalies, anthropic inversions, and synthetic alienation. Their work is driven by extensive research into the histories of science fiction and the legacies of transnationalism. Recent solo exhibitions include Xenogenesis, Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven (2019); Reconstruction of Story 2, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (2018); In the Year of the Quiet Sun, CASCO, Utrecht (2014); Novaya Zemlya, Museu Serralves, Porto (2014); and Medium Earth, REDCAT, Los Angeles (2013). They have participated in exhibitions at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2019); Carnegie International, 57th Edition (2018); Kochi-Muziris Biennale, (2018); Rubin Museum of Art, New York (2018); Villa Empain – Fondation Boghossian, Brussels (2017); Sharjah Biennial 13, (2017); Gwangju Biennale (2016); and Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2015).

Fish Story, to be continued presents an investigation of the global maritime industry, an extensive research of the late artist, theorist, photography historian and critic, Allan Sekula. Showing for the first time in Southeast Asia, NTU CCA Singapore will juxtapose chapters from Fish Story (1988 – 1993) alongside two film works, Lottery of the Sea (2006) and The Forgotten Space (2010) co-directed with Nöel Burch. With a focus on the core works of his explorations of the maritime world, this exhibition aims to emphasise Allan Sekula’s sustained argument that the sea is the “forgotten space” of the contemporary global economy. Fish Story, to be continued will include works from the collections of Fond Regional d’art contemporain Bretagne, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York and Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA 21), Vienna.

An International Symposium is organised on the occasion of Fish Story, to be continued on Saturday 26 September 2015. Bringing together different researchers and artists who have collaborated or share common interests with Allan Sekula’s work, the symposium will focus on key themes of his practice including questions of critical realism in contemporary art and representation of labour.

This exhibition is part of NTU CCA Singapore’s curatorial programme PLACE.LABOUR.CAPITAL., a trandisciplinary research addressing the complexities of a world in flux and the network of connections that such underlying elements define at both local and global scale.

Allan Sekula: Fish Story, to be continued public programmes
International Symposium – Allan Sekula: Fish Story, to be continued