The Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative identifies and supports a network of curators and artists from South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa in a comprehensive five-year program involving curatorial residencies, acquisitions for the Guggenheim’s collection, international touring exhibitions, and far-reaching educational activities. The first exhibition, No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, organized by June Yap, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, South and Southeast Asia, will open at the Guggenheim Museum on February 22, 2013. The exhibition focuses on the artistic practices and cultural traditions of that region, which includes Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. The artworks in the exhibition, along with others acquired as part of Guggenheim UBS MAP, will enter the Guggenheim’s permanent collection under the auspices of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund.
Following an exhibition model that is both integrative and contextual, No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia investigates the notion of culture as fundamentally borderless, revealing networks of influence and exchange within the region. Drawn from the opening line of William Butler Yeats’s poem “Sailing to Byzantium” (1928), which later inspired the title of Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country for Old Men (2005), the exhibition title underscores a central question: How is the designation “South and Southeast Asia” defined and understood internationally? No Country considers the impact of ethno-nationalism, historical colonization, and present-day globalization on identities in the region and how the region is marked culturally by its intertwined histories and shared social, religious, and creative traditions.
No Country examines the region from within, looking at the geopolitics of South and Southeast Asia through the work of a cross-generational selection of artists. The exhibition includes painting, sculpture, photography, video, and performance documentation, and examines a range of topics including cross-cultural encounters and negotiations; conceptions of nation, identity, and religion; historical interpretation and narratives; quasi-archival responses to cultural appropriation, and new developments in media and aesthetics.