Home to more than 600 million people, Southeast Asia is characterized by linguistic diversity and cultural sophistication. Geographic proximity to Taiwan has also facilitated a long history of interaction and strong cultural and economic ties. As many people from this region live, work and do business in Taiwan, so likewise a large number of Taiwanese people have also settled in Southeast Asian countries. The Ministry of Culture strives to promote cultural interaction with the region so as to generate greater awareness and understanding of our neighbors.
This year, the Ministry continue to forge closer ties with Southeast Asia by consulting with cultural experts to gain a deeper understanding of the region. This desire to deepen our understanding has led us to set up the Southeast Asia Advisory Committee. Professionals with knowledge of grassroots involvement in the arts, craft, film, publication, NGOs and the creative industries have been invited to join the advisory committee and attend special events such as ART TAIPEI 2015, cultural network meetings, art village, museum and craft tours, and other Ministry-led cultural exhibitions and events. The Ministry hopes that these events will enable us to network with experts on the region's cultures, obtain pragmatic insights into its cultural development and set up mutually beneficial partnerships.
Lisa AHMAD is a contemporary artist and the owner of Kaleidoscope Studio in Brunei. The studio's name comes from an idea she had while studying fine art painting in London: Ahmad believes that art should be dynamic and diverse, continuously evolving like the patterns in a kaleidoscope. When returning to Brunei, she opened the studio and became the first artist in the country to set up a creative space in this way. The studio supports creative workers by providing them with a place to exhibit and interact. Ahmad hopes to bring freshness and diversity to the country's art scene and to engage public interest in art. She has organized several art exhibitions, and her studio and exhibitions often feature in The Brunei Times, the local English-language newspaper.
A Myanmar-based curator with a BA in Sociology and an MA in Public Relations and Media Communication, Benini works in independent video production and cultural event planning. Her exploration of Southeast Asia's contemporary arts and cultural expression started in 2010. She co-founded Flux Kit, an independent non-profit organization promoting intercultural exchange. In 2014, Flux Kit organized Contemporary Dialogues Yangon, an international festival of culture and arts. Benini is working on a new collection of books about/from Asia for the Italian publishing house add editore and also runs a bookshop in Torino, Italy, that focuses on Asia and the arts. Her research interests lie in communication and artistic performance in the contemporary global context that influence social structure, power distribution and daily life.
Carol CASSIDY is a weaver and textile designer whose work has been exhibited throughout the world. She studied weaving in Norway and Finland and in 1980 earned a BFA from the University of Michigan. A UNESCO advisor, Cassidy used her weaving expertise to help rural women in developing countries set up sustainable cottage industries. In 1989, she went to Vientiane, Laos, where she and her husband decided to establish their own textile business, Lao Textiles, with mission to preserve the Laotian silk hand weaving tradition. Lao Textiles has been recognized for its complex, creative fabrics and won the UNESCO Product Excellence Award in 2001. Cassidy has also nurtured mutually beneficial relationships with Lao women, bringing new life and economic value to traditional weaving and craft. She continues to advise the UN and IFAD, among other agencies, and shares her experience with artisans all over the world.
Thai visual artist and art critic, CHAPAKDEE lectures at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Srinakharinwirot University in Thailand. His research interests include visual art, art history, urban studies, contemporary art, contemporary Asian art, art and globalization, and post-colonialism. For more than a decade, he has been working with the Bru people, refugees from the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s who settled along the Mekong River, near Thailand's northern border, and live without official identities. Chapakdee and his students have supported art education for Bru children, the story is the subject of his documentary film Beyond the Border Line—Vortex of the River. He is currently researching Molam music, which is indigenous to the Mekong River area.
Cheng CHANG is an independent media worker with a BA in Public Administration from National Cheng-chi University. A long-time advocate for Southeast Asian immigrants in Taiwan, Chang co-founded 4-way Voice, a newspaper in six languages including Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Filipino, Burmese and Cambodian. In 2013, Chang moved into television, launching Taiwan's first Southeast Asian singing program, Sing in Taiwan. In 2014, he co-founded the Taiwan Literature Award for Migrants and later in the year published a collection of his articles on Southeast Asia. When his Southeast-Asia-themed bookstore Brilliant Time opened in 2015, he started a campaign asking people traveling to Southeast Asian countries to bring back a book in a local language. He also collaborates with other bookstores to provide reading spaces for Southeast Asian immigrants and migrant workers in Taiwan.
Poet, writer, playwright and theater director CHUNG Chiao has a BA in Foreign Languages and Literatures from National Chung Hsing University and an MFA from Chinese Culture University. A left-wing intellectual for more than thirty years, he has been acting as a voice for the underprivileged and working on social issues. In the 1980s, Chung worked for several magazines while participating in social activism. In the early 1990s, he was inspired by the "people's theater” in the Philippines and Indonesia and set up the Assignment Theatre to use theater as a form of commentary on public life to explore folk cultures and the notion of "homeland” and its future. The theater troupe also promotes community theatre, inviting the voiceless to the stage to express themselves through their bodies. Chung has organized several international events and festivals to bring together art workers from Asia.
Founder of Trees Music and Art, an independent folk and grassroots record label created in 1993, CHUNG works with like-minded artists to produce high-quality music, and many of its albums have won recognition and awards both home and abroad. Trees Music and Art organizes music festivals for Taiwanese musicians to participate in international events. It also initiates international projects to connect Thai and Indian musicians, artists, and academics. In 2001, Chung started Migration Music Festival, a platform with migration theme for cultural discussion and sound experiment. Her first documentary, From Border to Border, which traces the history of Chinese immigrants in India, has been shown at international film festivals and won the top prize at the 2014 Taiwan International Women Make Waves Film Festival. She currently teaches at the College of Communication of the National Cheng-chi University. She is also the Director of the Art and Culture Center and the Director of Voice of NCCU.
Former Chinese content adviser to Media Prima, Malaysia's largest media conglomerate, Datuk Goh was once invited to serve as Chinese political secretary to Prime Minister Najib bin Abdul Razak, dispensing advice on affairs involving the country's ethnic Chinese community, and is also Chairmen Malaysia Han Culture Center, consultant to the Chinese Film Association of Malaysia and chairman of Malaysia's Association of Translation and Creative Writing. Dedicated to the development of the culture industries and of Chinese-language films and television in Malaysia, Goh has led Media Prima to increase coverage for the ethnic Chinese community and improve both the quality and quantity of Chinese-language television shows, including dramas. He has also actively promoted cultural exchanges and has contributed to the translation of several Chinese literary classics into Malay. He was honored for his contributions with an award from the Malaysian Institute of Language and Literature
HEUANGSOUKKHOUN is Secretary General for Association for Autism in Laos and Director of Lao Gallery in Vientiane. A committed social advocate and art lover, she has organized numerous exhibitions to raise funds for disabled people in Laos. Her career as a curator started in 2006 while working on the Mekong Art and Culture Project, which involved collaboration with curators from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam and resulted in the Underlying: Contemporary Art Exhibition from the Mekong Sub-Region in 2008. In 2012 she was invited to nominate Lao artists for the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale and was also a major curator for the 2013 Singapore Biennale.
KUAN is Deputy Principal of Taiwan's Shih Chien University. He earned a Master degree in Industrial Design from the Pratt Institute in 1980, New York. Founding the University's Department of Industrial Design and serving as the first director of its Graduate Institute of Industrial Design, Graduate Institute of Industrial Design and Architecture, and Design School, Kuan was honored three times with an award from USC for his decades of hard work training young Taiwanese designers. He was also Chairman of the Chinese Industrial Designers Association and Founding Director of the Product R&D Department at Taiwan's Tatung Corporation and the US-based Conair Corporation. Kuan has advised many government agencies, consulted on government projects and sat on panels for several important national and international design awards, including the German Red Dot Award. His areas of expertise include the science of design, and design creation, strategies, and management.
Tran Tuyet LAN has been General Manager of Craft Link since 1997 and is responsible for daily management and operations at the Hanoi-based non-profit Fair Trade organization. Craft Link projects aim to empower ethnic minority groups and traditional craft producers by helping them build a sustainable craft industry and marketing their handicraft products worldwide to enable craftspeople to earn a fair income and so support local cultures.
Tom LII, currently the CEO of Combines Cultural Innovation Investment Ltd., is dedicated to working towards eco-sustainability and eco-friendly agriculture, while preserving the diversity of local cultures and increasing social awareness of humanitarian issues. His work focuses on rural areas in Taiwan, China and the developing world. Lii has allied himself with like-minded advocates from industry and academia on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, setting up a foundation that promotes rural well-being through international projects and collaboration.
An urbanist and practicing architect, KUSUMAWIJAYA's involvement with the arts started with his writings on the relationship between the city and the arts. In 2006, he was elected to the chair of Jakarta Arts Council and served until January 2010. He co-founded the Rujak Centre for Urban Studies in 2010 and has served as its Director ever since. In 2013, he co-founded a sustainability learning center, Bumi Pemuda Rahayu, which organizes artist-in-residence programs that work with nearby communities on ecological issues, intended to stimulate concept and better practices relating to sustainability.
Director of Leiden's International Institute for Asian Studies in the Netherlands, Peycam is a trained historian with a PhD from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, Peycam recently published a book tracing the origins of the Vietnamese culture of public contestation during the colonial occupation. He also worked for ten years as Founding Director of the Centre for Khmer Studies. In 2010-2011, he was a United States Institute of Peace Jenning Randolph Fellow. Since 2009, Peycam has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. Under the International Institute for Asian Studies, he has coordinated a Mellon-funded initiative entitled "Rethinking Asian Studies in the Global Context” (2014-2016).
PRIM is a cultural entrepreneur who was born during the Cambodian Genocide. Growing up in Canada, he is proud to have returned to Cambodia and to participate in a movement using arts for healing, social transformation, and economic development. As the Executive Director of Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), he has led the organization to become a leading cultural agency in Cambodia, extending its reach from local to international projects and from straightforward transmission of tradition to the promotion of expression and innovation. The major Season of Cambodia festival in New York in 2013, a $2.6 million CLA project involving 125 artists and 34 partners including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, is a mark of his achievements at the organization. Prim also helped drive the commercial development of Artisans Angkor, a successful Cambodian social enterprise selling high-end handicrafts.
SHIU is an artist, curator and the Director of the Bamboo Curtain Studio and Bamboo Culture Co. After graduating from UC Berkley with a degree in Economics, she worked in the finance industry before discovering her inner artist and getting involved with visual art creation. In 1995, she set up the BSC in Danshui to provide time and space for artists where they can create. This was the first time an abandoned space in Taiwan turned into a place for art, and it has nurtured many important young Taiwanese artists on the scene today. Shiu is a strong advocate for the renewal of Taipei's urban space and for public participation in cultural production and has sat on the board of many art associations and foundations and served on government art committees locally and internationally. She has also organized several international arts and cultural events, seminars, and research projects.
TAKAMORI, independent writer, curator, and director of the Taipei-based Outsiders Factory, graduated with an MFA in Applied Arts from National Chiao Tung University and is now a doctoral candidate. His first album design won the prestigious Golden Melody Award for Traditional Music. Takamori lectures at the Taipei National University of the Arts and curates the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts on the university campus. He is particularly interested in the cross-cultural study of contemporary art, especially in art and cultural exchanges with Southeast Asian countries, a good example of which is his organizing a series of events for artists from Taiwan and Southeast Asia: "South Country, South of Country: Vietnamese & Taiwanese Artists Exchange Project,” "Return to the South: The New Chapter of Contemporary Art Interaction between Taiwan and Southeast Asia,” and "Residency Project for Taiwanese Artists in Muong's Culture Museum, North Vietnam”.
TAY has been with Theatreworks in Singapore since 1989 and in 1993 took on the role of Managing Director. He has worked extensively with Arts Network Asia, set up in 1999 by Theatreworks, to promote cross-Asia dialogue and exchange. Since 2002, he has been directing Theatreworks' Continuum Asia Project in Luang Prabang, Laos, carrying out capacity-building work that engages with local master performers and young people. The project has revived Pharak Phalam, a traditional Laotian dance-drama form. In 1996, Tay was awarded the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry's Culture Award in recognition of his contribution to the Singapore arts scene, marking the first time an arts manager has received this award. He earned a Master's Degree in Arts Administration & Cultural Policy from the University of London's Goldsmiths College in 1999.
Known by her colleagues as Nikko, ZAPATA is Chief Culture & Arts Officer of Cultural Management Division-Arts Education Department at the Cultural Center of the Philippines . She is also a senior lecturer in Philippine Arts at the University of the Philippines Manila. Zapata graduated with a BA in Sociology from the University of the East in Manila and went on to do her MA in General Sociology at the Asian Social Institute. Since joining CCP in 1990, she has gain her expertise on organizational development, arts and events management, research, documentation and community outreach work. Zapata has worked with international organizations such as the Asia Europe Foundation on important research projects and has long been studying disappearing traditional Filipino arts and crafts. Winning a grant from the Arts Network Asia for the year 2004-2005 enabled her to carry out research overseas on governance and sustainability in Southeast Asian countries.