A year from the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, unprecedented shifts arising from the global pandemic have affected spheres of everyday life as commercial enterprises and the art world alike have to find new ways of working, relating, making meaning, and maintaining relevance.
The exhibition In Our Best Interests: Afro-Southeast Asian Affinities during a Cold War is ADM Gallery’s contribution to the initiative, Proposals for Novel Ways of Being, which brings together 12 exhibitions and programs featuring the artistic community’s collective response to COVID -19. It is also one of the means of some of Singapore’s arts and educational institutions to support artistic production during a time of uncertainty, through the collaborative efforts of various museums, art centers, and independent spaces. Emerging from this series of projects are issues, both immediate and far-reaching, ranging from themes of isolation, the impact on both every day and marginal communities, the ensuing shifts in modes of art-making, and other repercussions, to name a few.
In Our Best Interests is unique in that it is a research-led exhibition conceived before the launch of the initiative. Curators Kathleen Ditzig and Carlos Quijon, Jr’s inquiry into political endeavors that envision redefined territories of agency and autonomy in a post-imperial world seeks to draw out connections of mutual aspirations between Africa and Southeast Asia. The show highlights a different vein of collaboration in geopolitical terms, touching on the Maphilindo project of the 1960s as well as other pivotal events in the politics of the region that reveals how dialogue and exchange can thrive across cultural contexts despite limitations and the complexities embedded within the schematics of solidarity and alliance.
The selection of artworks by Fyerool Darma, bani Baykal, Ariko S. Ikehara, Eisa Jocson, Simon Soon (in collaboration with Munirah Mansoor), Vuth Lyno, Ming Wong, and Yee I-Lann provide a perspective, and manner of negotiation, with some of the underlying issues surrounding geopolitical contestations and the occlusion of histories related to this body of research.
As part of one of ADM Gallery’s exhibition programming missions which presents contemporary art with research in the domain of the humanities and technology, the ADM Gallery is proud to present In Our Best Interests and contribute to the supporting of curatorial practices. The ADM Gallery would like to thank the curators and all participating artists of the exhibition, as well as the National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Art Museum for spearheading the Novel Ways initiative, and KONNECT ASEAN and Silverlens Gallery for their support of the show.