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Contesting the contemporary: A Southeast Asian reading group (Friday, 31 July, Free Admission)

reading group
Image Credit: Kiri Dalena, Erased slogan sourced from the Lopez Library Archives.

We would like to announce Contesting the contemporary: A Southeast Asian reading group with Simon Soon (Kuala Lumpur, Ambitious Alignments/ Southeast of Now), Kyo Pathomvat (Bangkok, The Reading Room), Renan Laru-An (Manila, DiscLab.) An intimate discussion moderated by Lian Ladia & Sidd Perez of Planting Rice (Manila), The Lopez Museum & Library.  Friday, July 31, 2015, 10-11:30am.

Using the Lopez Museum & Library archive, as well as the generative text archive compiled from the Articles of Disagreements Cafe, and the researchers own references, the discussion will revolve around compiling historical references and text influential within each’s curator practice within the region (Malaysia, Thailand, Manila and the greater Southeast Asia).

Contesting the Contemporary is a reading laboratory focused on looking critically at the linear narrative histories of modernity/ rehistoricization. Southeast Asian curators and researchers will share influential SEA text on their practice sourced from the Library of the Lopez Museum, critically looking at linear historical models of modernity.

The program is organized by Planting Rice in the event of Curating-in-Depth 2, a symposium fromAugust 3-7 in cooperation with Asia-Europe Foundation and Lasalle St. Benilde School of Design and the Arts. For more information about the symposium you may visit:

​FREE ADMISSION: Limited seats available. For more reservation, call Tina Modrigo at 631-2417 or send an email to​


Biographies of the speakers:


Sidd Perez, curator, art writer, Planting Rice, Philippines. Since 2012, she shuttles between Manila and Singapore in programming The Drawing Room while actively pursuing the activities of Planting Rice, a curatorial and resource platform focused on Philippine practices and its cross-pollinations, that she founded with another curator Lian Ladia. Graduating from Ateneo De Manila University in 2008, she has then been affiliated with Ateneo Art Gallery and Valentine Willie Fine Art and has ran an artist space LOSTprojects. She is currently a curator at the National University Museum of Singapore.

Simon Soon is researcher based Kuala Lumpur. He is currently completing his PhD in Art History at the University of Sydney under an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship. His thesis ‘What is Left of Art?’ investigates the intersection between left-leaning political art movements and modern urban formations in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines from 1950s–1970s. His broader areas of interest include comparative modernities in art, Malaysian art history, spatio-visual practices, history of photography and art historiography. He has contributed essays to a number of journals including Yishu and Modern Art Asia. He is also co-editor of Narratives of Malaysian Art Vol. 4. From 2015–16, he is a participant in the Power Institute’s ‘Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art’, funded by Getty Foundation’s ‘Connecting Art Histories’ initiative. He is also part of the editorial collective of SOUTHEAST OF NOW: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art, a new refereed journal due to launch in early 2016.

Renan Laru-an (b. 1989 in Sultan Kudarat) is a researcher and curator. After studying psychology at the University of the Philippines, he founded DiscLab | Research and Criticism, a multidisciplinary platform and virtual organization for critical writing, theory, discursive activities, and long-term research on Philippine contemporary art and visual and network culture. He is the editor of An Auto-Corrected Journal of Printing Properties, co-author of From Bandung to Berlin: A Social Fiction (with Brigitta Isabella), and as executive director of DiscLab, co-curator of the multi-platform and research-oriented First Lucban Assembly: PAMUMUHUNAN (Waiting for a capital) (with Dorothea Garing). Ongoing research include Working with Naivete, Before Criticality (since 2012) and Curatorial Labor and Solutions (since 2014). He has presented projects and lectures in institutions, such as the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, and Akademie der Bildenden Künste München. In 2014, he participated in the 6th Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course led by Ruth Noack. He is a member of SYNAPSE – The International Curators’ Network at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin.

Narawan Kyo Pathomvat is the founder and director of a contemporary art library/non-profit platform, The Reading Room, Bangkok. She is also a lecturer at the Department of Art History, Faculty of Archaeology at Silpakorn University (Bangkok) and an advisory board member of a digital and human rights advocacy group, Thai Netizen Network. She receives her MPS (Arts and Cultural Management) from Pratt Institute (New York) and previously worked for Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (New York), and Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong). Narawan is also an independent curator, writer, and translator.

Lian Ladia is a curator and co-founder of Planting Rice, a contemporary art platform based in Manila which is a curatorial collaboration with Sidd Perez. Planting Rice also endeavors to publish mobilities and information not available in mainstream spaces for contemporary art in the region.  Her curatorial projects include, You have every right, Ateneo de Manila (2013), Ethos Bathos Pathos at the UP Vargas Museum (2015), Articles of Disagreements at the Lopez Museum (2014). She just completed the curatorial programme of de Appel Arts Centre in Amsterdam 2015-2016 and will pursue a graduate degree at Bard College in curatorship through Asian Cultural Council, New York.