For Asia TOPA, Asialink Arts presents Public Displays of Affection—a cross-sectoral conference exploring the fundamental nature of ‘soft power’ agendas and the status of cultural diplomacy, creative exchange and artistic influence across the Asia Pacific.
Are we ready to imagine and manifest a different future, one where arts and culture are at the core of our identity?
Are we prepared to wear our hearts on our sleeves? To be a nation that walks towards tension and incongruity to find compatibility, affection and intimacy?
For Asia TOPA, Asialink Arts presents Public Displays of Affection to explore the fundamental nature of ‘soft power’ agendas and the status of cultural diplomacy, creative exchange and artistic influence across the Asia Pacific.
This cross-sectoral event will activate dialogue between artists, creative producers, arts and culture thought leaders, academics, policy makers, and business leaders.
The conference is designed to highlight powerful moments of intercultural exchange and reflect on the influence they can have. Bringing Australia and our regional partners into this discussion may help shape an agenda of mutual benefit where arts and culture play an increasingly important role in soft power. Could a discussion such as this lead to the conception of new investment opportunities in arts and culture?
3 March, 2020
Old Quad - The University of Melbourne, Parkville Campus
9:00 am - Welcome
Conference MC—Ali Moore
Welcome to Country—Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder Ron Jones
Welcome to the conference—Penny Burtt and Dr Pippa Dickson
9:20 am - Defined by Our Actions: Image, Identity and Influence
The need has rarely been greater, but government resources for soft-power tools including public broadcasting and the arts have diminished. Artists and arts projects communicate identity in a number of ways. What do our creative projects say about us as a nation and how can these be amplified against a background of diverse and changing political and economic interests?
- Ali Moore
- Matt O'Sullivan
- Louise Partos
Q & A
10:20 am - Not an Abstract Matter
The role of the arts in projecting soft power is not an abstract matter. What are the models for artist-led engagement across the Asia Pacific? What are the values shared when cultural knowledge and social experiences are exchanged through artistic practice, in different geopolitical environments? What resources, agencies and frameworks have enabled artists to grow their projects? And what do we do as an artistic community when artists are denied the right to express themselves?
- Ali Moore
- Madeleine Flynn, Dr Tim Humphrey and Jihyun Kim
- John Young Zerunge AM
- Kristi Monfries and Antariksa
Q & A
11:10 am - Morning Tea (catered)
11:30 am - Realities and Visions for Cultural Diplomacy
Artists can put forward alternative visions of the world and create innovative approaches to cultural diplomacy. What are the modalities used? Is it possible to imagine a future for cultural diplomacy in Australia where historical and contemporary uses of First Nations cultural protocols are foregrounded? How can we explore soft power through cultural differences, intercultural communications and cultural translation?
- Dr Chaitanya Sambrani
- Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker
- Prof Katya Johanson
- Prof Jing Han
Q & A
12:20 pm - Lunch (catered)
1:05 pm - Neighbourhood Watch: What Can Cultural Diplomacy Do?
What role do the arts and cultural diplomacy have in shaping relationships between states in the Asia Pacific? As we look to the innovators across our region, where is Australia in the activity and conversation? What frameworks, partnerships and policies are working and what are we able to learn from practices and funding models?
- Ali Moore
- Carrillo Gantner AC
- His Excellency Mr Kwok Fook Seng, High Commissioner for Singapore
- Keiji Shono
Q & A
Introduction to parallel breakout sessions—Su Baker AM
2:05 pm - Parallel Breakouts Session 1: Mapping
This session will bring forward key issues from previous plenaries. It will introduce diverse opinions and perspectives through facilitated group discussion.
- Group 1 : International investment in the arts and artists: challenges, models, opportunities
- Group 2 : Cross-cultural alliances, co-creating and co-commissioning: perceptions, partnerships, risks
- Group 3 : Regional architectures and institutions for co-operation: frameworks, agencies, allegiances.
2:40 pm - Afternoon Tea
3:00 pm - Parallel Breakouts Session 2: Future Actions
Building on the mapping exercise, this session will propose actions—research, resources, policy, advocacy, collaboration—within Australia and abroad. It will explore what has emerged as urgent, who is responsible for next steps and how we can best continue the dialogue.
- Group 1: International investment in the arts and artists: challenges, models, opportunities
- Group 2: Cross-cultural alliances, co-creating and co-commissioning: perceptions, partnerships, risks
- Group 3: Regional architectures and institutions for co-operation: frameworks, agencies, allegiances
3:45 pm - Reporting
Rapporteurs from each of the three groups share findings and future actions.
- Su Baker AM
4:25 pm - Strategies
This session will take a pragmatic approach to promoting the arts as a soft power tool. How can future issues concerning the arts become government policy, and how will this increase Australia’s connectedness to the outside world?
- Ali Moore
- Dr Pippa Dickson
- His Excellency Mr Kwok Fook Seng, High Commissioner for Singapore
- Kristi Monfries
- Prof Justin O'Connor
Q & A
Closing and thanks—Penny Burtt
Antariksa is an independent historian and co-founder of KUNCI Study Forum & Collective and Bumi Pemuda Rahayu (BPR), Yogyakarta. He is the author of Tuan Tanah Kawin Muda: Hubungan Seni Rupa-LEKRA 1950–1965 (The Relation Between Art and the Institute of People’s Culture in Indonesia 1950–1965) (Yayasan Seni Cemeti, 2005).
In 2017, Antariksa was awarded a Global South research residency at the Collège d’études mondiales, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme in Paris. His primary research explores art and the mobility of ideas in Japanese-occupied Southeast Asia. Recent works have been exhibited in major international survey exhibitions including Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber (2019) and 2019 Asian Art Biennial: The Strangers from Beyond the Mountain and the Sea, Taiwan. Antariksa is currently based in Orange, NSW.
Prof Su Baker AM
Professor Su Baker AM is Pro Vice-Chancellor Community and Cultural Partnerships, and Director of the Centre of Visual Arts (CoVA) at the University of Melbourne. With over 25 years’ experience in teaching, research and senior management, she has held leadership roles at Sydney College of the Arts and the University of Sydney in addition to the University of Melbourne. She was director of the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) for seven years and head of its School of Art for 10 years. Su Baker was awarded a Doctorate of Creative Arts at Curtin University of Technology in 2004. As an artist she has exhibited nationally since the early 1980s and her paintings are held in major public and private collections.
Penny is the Group CEO of Asialink, Australia’s leading centre for creative engagement with Asia hosted by the University of Melbourne. She joined Asialink from global payments company Visa, where she served as Vice President, Government Affairs, Asia Pacific. Prior to Visa, Penny led External Relations and Client Service Risk for the Asia Pacific with McKinsey&Company.
Penny is a former diplomat and represented Australia at a senior level in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and at the United Nations in Geneva and New York. She previously served as an Adviser to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Strongly committed to the social sector, Penny has volunteered with and served on the boards of non-government organisations in Asia, the U.S. and Australia. She has served on the Boards of the U.S. National Center for APEC, the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce, the Singapore American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), and the Singapore Committee of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). She also served seven years as a governor of the Singapore Institute of International Relations and BoardAgender, Singapore’s women’s board advocacy organisation. She is currently an advisor to the Australia-ASEAN Strategic Youth Dialogue; a board member of Meridian 180, a global academic collaboration initiative; and the Asian Business Trade Association.
Dr Pippa Dickson
As the Director of Asialink Arts , Dr Pippa Dickson is committed to facilitating true partnership and cooperation between Australia and Asia in the arts and creative industry sectors. She has extensive arts leadership experience both nationally and internationally. In addition to positions as the director of the National Association for Visual Artists (NAVA) and co-chair of the National Craft Initiative, she founded Design Island for Arts Tasmania and was the founding CEO of the Glenorchy Art & Sculpture Park. Pippa Dickson has raised over $10 million for national and international art commissions and architectural projects, and worked as a project manager and consultant in the private and public sectors for more than 20 years. Outside Australia, she served as international adviser to the Cheongju International Craft Biennale (South Korea) in 2017 and 2019, and undertook a mentorship at the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (Hong Kong) with former CEO Michael Lynch CBE AO in 2015.
Madeleine Flynn and Dr Tim Humphrey
Audio conceptual artists Madeleine Flynn and Dr Tim Humphrey began their collaborative practice in 1993. They were awarded an Australia Council Award for Emerging and Experimental Arts in 2017. Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey create what they describe as ‘unexpected situations for listening’. In 2019–20 they have undertaken projects, commissions and residencies with the Setouchi Triennale, Japan; Regional Dance Centre of Eastern Finland (ITAK); Melbourne Festival; Vitalstatistix, Melbourne; Asia Discovers Asia Meeting for Contemporary Performance (ADAM) Artist Lab, Taipei; Interculture Art Inc. (ICA), Yokohama; Perth Festival; Cove Park, Scotland; MONA FOMA, Hobart; and many others.
For Asia TOPA this year, Korean producer Jin Yim initiated a collaboration with Korean artist Jihyun Kim. Their installation, When It Rains (I Feel like Eating Jeon), ran 20 February to 1 March at Abbotsford Convent. Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey are based in Melbourne.
Carrillo Gantner AC
Arts leader and Asialink patron Carrillo Gantner AC studied at the University of Melbourne, then trained as an actor and worked professionally in the USA before returning to Australia in 1969. He founded the Playbox Theatre (now Malthouse Theatre) in 1976 and held leadership roles with the company until 1993, producing over 200 Australian plays and overseeing the construction of the Malthouse.
From 1985 to 1987 he was Counsellor (Cultural) at the Australian Embassy in Beijing. Carrillo Gantner has brought many Asian performing artists and companies to Australia and initiated numerous exchanges with the region. He was the first recipient of the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Cultural Leader of the Year Award in 2001, and in 2002 received the Dorothy Crawford Award from the Australian Writers’ Guild for services to Australian playwriting.
In 2011 he was awarded a Green Room Lifetime Achievement Award. Carrillo Gantner is Chairman of The Sidney Myer Fund and Adjunct Professor at the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture (ACIAC) at Western Sydney University.
Prof Jing Han
Professor Jing Han is Director of the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture (ACIAC) at Western Sydney University. She is a leading expert in translating Chinese culture, intercultural communications, audiovisual translation and media accessibility. Jing Han received her PhD in English literature from the University of Sydney in 1995. In 1996 she joined SBS TV and was the chief subtitler and head of the SBS Subtitling Department until 2019, leading the department to international success. Jing Han has subtitled over 300 Chinese films, documentaries and television shows and is the lead subtitler for the popular Chinese reality TV series If You Are the One. Her critically acclaimed English subtitles for this dating game show have played a key role in creating its cult following in Australia and setting the record for the longest showing non-English series in Australian broadcasting history.
Prof Katya Johanson
Katya Johanson is Professor in Audience Research in the School of Communication and Creative Arts, and Associate Dean (Partnerships and International) for the Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University. She researches audiences for cultural events, cultural policies and cultural diplomacy. In 2019, Katya Johanson co-edited a special issue of the international journal Cultural Trends on audiences for the performing arts. She is currently co-editing the Routledge Companion to Audience Research and the Performing Arts, due to be published in 2021.
Artist Jihyun Kim studied at the Korean National University of Arts and École nationale supérieure d’arts de Paris-Cergy, France. She works across art forms including interactive media, video, photography, sound and installation. Her art, performance and design works, including album, web and poster design, have been commissioned and presented internationally since 2002.
Based in Seoul, Jihyun Kim is a member of the multidisciplinary media performance group Alive Arts COMO, and the media and sound group SOUFFLE. For Asia TOPA this year, Korean producer Jin Yim initiated her collaboration with Australian artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey. Their installation, When It Rains (I Feel like Eating Jeon), ran 20 February to 1 March at Abbotsford Convent.
His Excellency Mr Kwok Fook Seng
The High Commissioner for Singapore.
Kristi Monfries is an Indonesian Australian creative producer, curator and arts manager. She lived and worked in Indonesia from 2009 to 2017, specialising in platforms for collaborative, experimental and innovative arts projects between Indonesia and Australia. Since 2013, she has been co-curator and producer at the Instrument Builders Project, which provides a forum across the Asia Pacific for experimental work at the intersection of contemporary art, sound, music and performance.
In 2010, with several Indonesian colleagues, Kristi Monfries founded Volcanic Winds, an arts organisation currently comprising six people as well as partners and allies. Volcanic Winds has an office, residency and performance space in Yogyakarta. For two years from 2013, she was the program curator and manager at Bumi Pemuda Rahayu (BPR), in the small rural village of Imogiri, Java, where she devised arts projects for the local community. Kristi is based in Canberra.
Prof Justin O'Connor
Justin O’Connor is Professor in the School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia, and visiting Professor in the Department of Cultural Industries Management, Shanghai Jiaotong University. Between 2012 and 2018 he was a member of the EU/UNESCO Expert Facility supporting the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
Justin O’Connor is currently working on the interdisciplinary Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project, UNESCO and the Making of Global Cultural Policy: Culture, Economy, Development. He is the author of After the Creative Industries: Why We Need a Creative Industry (Platform Papers, 2016); co-editor (with Kate Oakley) of the Routledge Companion to the Cultural Industries (2015); and (with Rong Yueming) Cultural Industries in Shanghai (Intellect, 2018). He has a forthcoming book (with Xin Gu) titled Red Creative: Culture and Modernity in China (Intellect), and is co-editing (with Xin Gu and Mike Kho Lim) Re-thinking Creative Cities in Asia (Palgrave).
Matt O’Sullivan is Managing Editor of the ABC’s Asia Pacific newsroom in Melbourne. APN provides TV, radio and digital news services to both local and international audiences, with a firm focus on the Asia-Pacific region.
Output includes breaking international news for the ABC News website and app; in-depth digital features providing context and understanding around key issues; in-language websites in Chinese, Bahasa Indonesia and Tok Pisin; The World on the ABC News channel; and current affairs programs Pacific Beat, Wantok and Pacific Mornings on Radio Australia.
Matt O’Sullivan has worked across newspapers, radio, TV and online in a career spanning almost three decades. After working for a decade as a journalist across platforms, he joined ABC’s Rural Department as the presenter of National Rural News on The Country Hour in 2003, before becoming an executive producer and later content director of ABC Rural, steering strategy and editorial direction for almost a decade.
Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker
Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker is an ARC Research Fellow in the Indigenous Studies Unit of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne. He is a member of the Australian Heritage Council, and the Australian Government’s Advisory Committee for Indigenous Repatriation. His research interests include repatriation, cultural heritage, information technology, community broadcasting and the digitisation and preservation of community audiovisual archives.
With extensive experience in the not-for-profit cultural sector, Louise Partos is passionate about empowering artists and communities. She is committed to developing arts projects founded on long-term partnerships that enable genuine cultural exchange.
Awarded an Asialink residency in 2013, Louise Partos worked in partnership with Afalyca Arts, a community art centre in Baucau, to deliver Timor Leste’s first ever music and art festival, which was remounted in 2016. In 2015, she completed the Asialink Leaders Program.
She was awarded a second Asialink Residency in 2018, which she undertook at Singapore’s national performing arts centre, Esplanade—Theatres on the Bay. Louise Partos is Executive Officer at Artback NT and lives in Darwin. She is the arts and culture representative on the 2021 Arafura Games Advisory Committee and one of two sector representatives on the NT Government’s Creative Industries Steering Committee.
Dr Chaitanya Sambrani
Dr Chaitanya Sambrani is an art historian and curator based at the ANU School of Art and Design’s Centre for Art History and Art Theory. He teaches courses on modernist and contemporary art in India, Indonesia, China and Japan. Curatorial projects include Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India (2004–07), Place.Time.Play: Contemporary Art from the West Heavens to the Middle Kingdom (2010), To Let the World In: Narrative and Beyond in Contemporary Indian Art (2012) and Savanhdary Vongpoothorn: All that Arises (2019).
Chaitanya Sambrani is primary author and editor of the major monograph At Home in the World: the Art and Life of Gulammohammed Sheikh (Tulika Books, 2019). His current research project is titled International Affiliations and Cosmopolitan Aspirations: Art, Nation and World in India and Indonesia. Chaitanya Sambrani is a member of the board of the ANU’s South Asia Research Institute (SARI) and served as its deputy director in 2018–19. He is an honorary professor at the Fakultas Seni Rupa dan Desain, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia.
Keiji Shono is Assistant Managing Director of The Japan Foundation Asia Center. Based in Tokyo, he has organised many of the Asia Center’s cultural programs and events since 2017, including the international survey exhibitions SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now, Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia 1960s–1990s and The Breathing of Maps; the Performing Arts Meeting (TPAM) in Yokohama; the Toshiki Okada and Uthis Haemamool performance collaboration Pratthana—A Portrait of Possession; playwright-director Oliza Hirata’s International Notes, Bangkok Notes and Manila Notes; the Suzuki Company of Toga and Purnati Indonesia production of Dionysus; DANCE DANCE ASIA—Crossing the Movements; and collaborative projects with the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) such as the Asian film showcase CROSSCUT ASIA and the omnibus film-making series Asian Three-Fold Mirror.
Keiji Shono served as director of the Planning Division and Financial Division of The Japan Foundation before joining the Asia Center. For three years he worked in Los Angeles and New York as deputy director of The Japan Foundation’s overseas offices.
John Young Zerunge AM
Beginning his work with critical writings for journals such as Art & Text, Tension and Art & Australia, Young has exhibited extensively including representing Australia at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Kennedy Centre, Washington; as well as in large-scale touring exhibitions initiated by Australia in the Asia Pacific (1990–2000); and presently in a globally touring exhibition curated by the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto (2019–21). Two major survey exhibitions have been mounted, at Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Victoria (2005), and at the ANU Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra (2013). John Young’s art is held by all Australian state galleries, as well as international museums such as Hong Kong’s M+. He was the founding president of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney. He continues his involvement as a member of the 4A Board of Directors.
Facilitators and Rapporteurs (Breakout Sessions)
Dr Danny Butt
Dr Danny Butt is Associate Director (Research) at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, where he coordinates programs in social practice and community engagement, and graduate research in the PhD and MFA programs.
Leading Australian arts advocate Nicole Beyer is Executive Director of Theatre Network Australia, an influential national service organisation for small-to-medium and independent performing arts organisations.
Amrit Gill is Director, International Development, at the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body. She has worked in various roles in the Australian arts sector in community arts and cultural development, social enterprise and international cultural relations.
Dr Xin Gu
Dr Xin Gu is a member of the EU/UNESCO Expert Facility (2019–22) supporting the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. She leads the Master of Cultural and Creative Industries program at Monash University.
Amanda Haskard is a curator working in socially engaged practice. She is currently the Co-Artistic Director of Volcanic Winds, an arts organisation dedicated to experimental and interdisciplinary practices from Australia and Southeast Asia.
Andrew Tetzlaff is an artist and curator whose research explores creative strategies for being attentive to the world. He is the coordinator of RMIT Intersect at RMIT University, where he facilitates and produces a dynamic program of exhibitions, studio residencies, creative laboratories and critical discussions.
Convened by Asialink Arts as part of Asia TOPA 2020.
Supported by Centre of Visual Art (CoVA), University of Melbourne, and by the Master of Cultural and Creative Industries, Monash University.
In its second iteration, Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts celebrates the creative imagination of artists and cultures in the Asia-Pacific region.
Learn more at asiatopa.com.au