No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York presented No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, featuring work by 22 artists and collectives representing some of the most compelling and inventive voices in South and Southeast Asia. Focused on the region’s shifting spectrum of creative practices, the exhibition traced networks of intellectual exchange and influence, and explored themes of national identity and community, cultural knowledge, power, and faith. No Country—the exhibition’s title was drawn from the opening line of the W. B. Yeats poem “Sailing to Byzantium” (1928)—proposes an understanding of the region in terms of intermingling and mutual influence, past and present, within and beyond South and Southeast Asia.

Organized by June Yap, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, South and Southeast Asia, No Country included painting, sculpture, photography, video, work on paper, and installation, the majority of which was on view in the United States for the first time. Following its presentation in New York, the inaugural exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative traveled to Asia Society Hong Kong Center and Singapore’s Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), a national research centre of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Artists participating include: Bani Abidi, Reza AfisinaKhadim AliPoklong Anading, Aung Myint, Shilpa Gupta, Ho Tzu Nyen, Amar Kanwar, Vincent Leong, Tayeba Begum Lipi, Tuan Andrew NguyenThe Otolith Group, The Propeller Group, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Navin Rawanchaikul, Norberto RoldanArin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, Tang Da Wu, Tran Luong, Truong Tan, Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung, and Wong Hoy Cheong. Works by Simryn Gill, Sheela Gowda, Kamin Lertchaiprasert, Sopheap Pich, and Vandy Rattana were also acquired through the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund but were not included in the New York presentation of the exhibition.

Discover the inspiration behind No Country and find out how the exhibition explores ideas of nation and community through June Yap’s essay. Download: e-book | interactive PDF

Read, watch, listen to, and discuss essays, stories, and interviews by international artists, writers, and curators. MAP’s blogs also highlight exhibitions, programs, initiative news, and related events.

Learn more about the artists through pages featuring each artist, and peruse many and varied ideas, discussions, and texts about community, geography and borders, history, and politics.

Find out more about the exhibition and its themes by watching Guggenheim UBS MAP videos, listening to our audio playlists, or searching through our digital library with the interactive MAP Navigator.

Education and Public Programs

“Storytelling and Art with Khadim Ali,” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, April 2013

“Storytelling and Art with Khadim Ali,” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, April 2013. Photo: Tanya Ahmed

In the spring of 2013, the Guggenheim Museum held educational and contextual programs in conjunction with the exhibition No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia. Over the course of the 14-week show, the Guggenheim held school and family interactive tours, artist workshops and tours for the visually impaired, family workshops, film screenings, artist talks, and a symposium. Some highlights:

  • Artist Khadim Ali led a series of programs inspired by his work and the Shahnameh (Book of kings), a Persian epic poem. For a family workshop, Ali combined storytelling and art making to encourage children to create personal responses. Ali’s Mind’s Eye workshop for the blind and people who have low vision focused on storytelling and cultural and familial heritage.
  • In addition to films and video works in the exhibition, weekly documentary and narrative films were screened at the Guggenheim, presenting nuanced views of South and Southeast Asia. Among them, the series History of Histories: Afghan Films 1960 to Present included documentaries, dramas, and newsreels, many of which were recently translated and captioned and previously unseen by New York audiences. Learn more (PDF) about the films presented.
  • A special one-time screening of Wajma (An Afghan Love Story), Barmak Akram’s most recent film, was followed by a conversation with the filmmaker, independent curator Leeza Ahmady, and artist Mariam Ghani.
  • During the first day of the two-day symposium “No Country: Regarding South & Southeast Asia,” artist Wong Hoy Cheong’s Doghole (2010) was screened at the Guggenheim Museum. Afterward, curator June Yap moderated an in-depth discussion with audience members in New York and the artist, who resides in Malaysia and participated via Skype. 
  • Held at the Queens Museum, the second part of the No Country: Regarding South and Southeast Asia symposium featured presentations and discussions of contemporary art practice in South and Southeast Asia, the differences between multiculturalism and globalization, and the rethinking of art history in the wake of emergent geopolitical boundaries. Speakers included independent curator Gridthiya Gaweewong; Alexandra Monroe, Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; independent curator and publisher Sharmini Pereira; artist collective The Propeller Group; academic Nora Taylor; and Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, South and Southeast Asia, June Yap.

Resource Guides

Teacher Guide Online and PDF
This Resource Guide focuses on five artists whose work was included in No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia at the Guggenheim Museum. The exhibition provided an opportunity for students to learn how contemporary artists address the issues and concerns of our time.

Family Guide (PDF)
This Family Guide is designed for children and adults to use together as they discover more about the art that is being produced by contemporary artists across South and Southeast Asia.