Photo: Jay Mar Albaos
Photo of Gregory Halili's work Karagatan (The Breadth of Oceans), 2016 at the Singapore Biennale 2016.

LAPS at Asiatopia and Singapore Biennale 2016

This year the LAPS programme travelled to Bangkok to both participate and perform in a live art festival, and to undertake research in performance studies. We performed at the Asiatopia Performance Art Festival and Conference, the longest running performance art festival in SE Asia. Asiatopia was curated by Thai artist and social activist, Chumpon Apisuk and the LAPS professor, Ray LangenbachThis year’s Asiatopia fell during the week of the convergence of two of the most significant dates in recent Thai history: the death on 13 October 2016 of King Phumiphon Adunyadet and the anniversary of the 14 October 1973 Student Uprising. The convergence of these events provided an ontological ground for the conference that on the one hand made our acts seem small and inconsequential, but also somehow elevated them in importance at the same time. 
There were 38 registered artist performances and 48 students performances in the whole conference. 11 Asian countries and 10 European countries represented. Each of the participants  brought their bodies, ideas and their own cultural backgrounds to the event. Some of the performances directly or indirectly responded to the death of the King and the social context. But the interpretation of all the performances was changed by the awareness of Thai history, a sense of loss and mourning,  and anxieties concerning the future of the nation. 
 In the Conference lectures and roundtable sessions we engaged with papers, panel presentations and ‘round-table’ dialogues concerning the art issues dominant in the region:  political activism, political & social-engaged performative actions, censorship & taboo, identity & gender issues, aesthetics and process, etc. After the conference the we took a few days of individual exploration and research.  The group then flew to Singapore to attend the Singapore Biennale. We had discussions with the cultural theorist C.J. Wee Wan-Ling, Adele Tan, a Curator at the new National Gallery of Singapore, and Susie Lingham, the Director of the Biennale. The shows and institutions in Singapore provided a mapping of the flows of contemporary art and culture in the region of S.E. Asia.