CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


Reference or Representation? The Impact of S.E.A. (Students Exercise Artworks) on Canon Formation in Vietnamese Contemporary Art

Session 21 Connecting Art Histories and World Art

Concordia University


Reference or Representation? The Impact of S.E.A. (Students Exercise Artworks) on Canon Formation in Vietnamese Contemporary Art

The paper investigates the particular importance of S.E.A – Students’ Exercise Artworks (2000) – on canon formation in early Vietnamese Contemporary Art. Edited and conceived by German artist Veronika Radulovic in collaboration with students of the Vietnam University of Fine Arts in Hà Nội, and published by this university, S.E.A. constituted the first survey text in Vietnamese of the basic concepts and major currents of western modernism and international contemporary art.


As the paper will show, this printed brochure did not only transfer knowledge. It itself became the locus of trans-cultural navigations – a contact zone, a site of cultural brokerage where a wide range of diverse aesthetic, ideological and cultural ideas met and were negotiated.


A close look at the making of-S.E.A affords insights not only into the dynamics, but also into the inherent contradictions in transcultural art-making, and  reveals the historical conditions and multiple entanglements that underpin the formation of contemporary non-western art. At the same time, it draws attention to the existence, diversity and inner logic of local canons – an aspect that tend s get missed in the euphoria over a new supposedly universal canon of global art.



Annette Bhagwati is project director of “100 Years of Now” (2015-2018) and “Wohnungsfrage” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin, and Affiliate Professor of art history at Concordia University, Montreal. Annette Bhagwati studied art history, African arts and social anthropology in Freiburg, Berlin, and London. After receiving her PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, in 1999, she became in‐house curator and program coordinator at the HKW (199-2006), where she organised and co-curated a wide range of exhibitions, including Between Past and Future: Contemporary Chinese Photography (2006) Politics of Fun: Zeitgenössische Kunst aus Südostasien (2005), Black Atlantic: Isaac Julien, Keith Piper, Lisl Ponger, Tim Sharp and Far New Distance (2004) and  DisOrientation (2003). Annette Bhagwati is research fellow at CEREV and founding member of the research group Curatorial Theory and Practice at CISSC, Montreal. Her research interests include transcultural curating, canon-building, curatorial research as well contemporary arts from Asia and Africa.