Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator Discusses Research Trip

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Bandung, Indonesia

The process of selecting artists for the inaugural exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative has begun, with the exhibition’s curator, June Yap, having already made an in-depth research trip to South and Southeast Asia. In her work, Yap is drawing on the expertise of local artists, curators, and intellectuals to bring context to the artistic and cultural practices that are currently shaping regional discourse and practice.

Conceived to engage actively with artists, curators, and audiences in areas of the world that are underrepresented in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection, the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative seeks to foster exchange among different cultures through acquisitions for the Guggenheim’s collection, international touring exhibitions, and far-reaching educational activities—as well as the curatorial residency program in which Yap is currently taking part. Yap, who holds the title of Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, South and Southeast Asia, has traveled to countries including Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and India. Art and artists from Pakistan and Afghanistan will also be considered. Dialogue around the cultural and artistic landscape of each of these countries will provide a rich and varied foundation for the development of the exhibition.

In a recent conversation with museum Senior Editor Domenick Ammirati, Yap describes how the show she is currently crafting will manifest one of the initiative’s hallmarks, an exhibition model that is both integrative and contextual. “There may be reasons for seeking lines of demarcation in other spheres in life,” she explains, “but I would like to think that in art and cultural production, we can allow for ideas to be presented and contested, acknowledging the need for, but going beyond, categorization.” The show is scheduled to open at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in winter 2013, before traveling to two venues internationally, including one in the region.

Yap reflects at length in the interview on her work, her travels, the perceived dichotomy between eastern and western cultures, and her life as a “globetrotting” curator. “I’ve felt from the start of this project that, brief as my time in each place may be, and even though I had been to most of these countries before, it would be critical to develop this exhibition in as direct a way as possible, making new observations with the project in mind,” says Yap. “However much one may know or have experienced of a place, there is always something new to find, as these are complex cultural terrains.”

Read the full interview and join the conversation by submitting questions to June via e-mail,Twitter, or Facebook for her next Q & A.

A view of Bandung, Indonesia, which June Yap visited during her travels to South and Southeast Asia. Photo: June Yap