No Country: Curator's Vision

3:06 | Published on March 25, 2013 | 493 Views

June Yap, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, South and Southeast Asia, describes the program's goal of establishing a dialogue between regions through exhibitions, educational programs, and additions to the museum's collection.

For more information, please visit the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative.

Download the Transcript (PDF)

Contrary to what the exhibition title appears to assert, No Country is an exhibition about the sense of belonging born out of experiences of biography and history that is inevitably layered upon physical geography.

It is quite simply about what intrigues us in our mutual encounters—as found in the responses to the questions of who we are and where we come from, and of what we would assume obligatory to share with one another. That is, the terms with which we would convey the signposts of our identities, what we believe ourselves to be, what we construct and communicate about our backgrounds and past. It is that which we employ to provide justification for what we do and why. This is an act we learn early on, and perform quite routinely, sometimes even absentmindedly.

In speaking about culture, often the conversation turns to distinctions between nations and between communities. These are the differences that, in such discussion, perform both an operation of unifying a people, as well as separating one from another. Yet the reductive technique of rendering cultures to bite-size categories and formulas, with an emphasis on difference and uniqueness, often fails to reflect actual experiences, and overlooks the rather more complex exchanges in dialogue, assimilation, transformation, and resistance that occur across these real and imagined boundaries.

No Country is a proposition to exceed the borders that have come to define the region, its countries and its peoples. It is in a sense a reflection upon the paradox of nation: of what the nation implies and obscures, and also of the idea of community—or the basis of what we think of nation as—that is, as people who wish to belong together and who identify themselves as belonging together.

No Country proposes a reevaluation of the region and its countries based on its relationships, cultural influences, affinities, and negotiations. It offers a glimpse into the region’s diverse contemporary art practices, and presents the possibility of understanding its countries as more than their political and geographical boundaries, and their representations. No Country is thus a challenge and proposition to engage with the region on its own terms.