Mapping Asia | Publication & Programmes

When 24 Apr–11 Oct 2014
Where Asia Art Archive
Language English, Chinese
How we define 'Asia' at Asia Art Archive is the question we are most frequently asked. Acknowledging both the value and limitations of the map as a tool, this project practices a mapping of Asia that does not exclusively depend on the map as artifact, but as something that lives and continues to unfold. We share with you some of the threads and (to borrow a geological term) hot spots that are currently shaping our notion of Asia. 

You can see the nice view of China from here is a travel photo taken in the 1970s, 20 years before the handover of British-colonial Hong Kong to Mainland China. For present-day Hong Kong, the significance of the sign as marking two distinct territories remains critical to understanding the dissension between them. The sign embodies the wedge between the territories, a relationship that is fraught with both dependence, with Hong Kong relying on Mainland China for nearly all of its energy sources, as well as distrust and resistance—Mainland Chinese are still required to carry a special visa to travel to Hong Kong, and there is a growing xenophobia of Mainland Chinese, who are often referred to as 'locusts' in the city. With its recent colonial history, status as one country/two systems, ethnic minority communities, and fraught cultural and political identity, how has Hong Kong become a platform to reconsider the very idea of nationhood? And how can we share these experiences so that societies in Asia and around the globe may enrich one another's points of reference, providing alternative horizons and perspectives from those well-travelled?

From Hong Kong, the Mapping Asia project traverses land and sea, connecting Guangzhou to Peru, Lesotho, and Elba. We attempt to summon mythologies and track roaming tigers, and we trace intellectual discourses around art and modernism from 20th century Santiniketan, Yangon, and Boston to 21st century Kaohsiung and London. By taking a field note-like approach and interweaving artwork, essays, an email exchange, literary extracts, a film plot, exhibition reviews, music, newspaper clippings and comics, we wish to open up multiple vantage points from which to consider Asia, looking beyond inherited boundaries, histories, and political and economic systems to  entanglements and connections across time, sites, and geographies. As part of Asia Art Archive’s ongoing work, Mapping Asia is one way we hope to positively destabilise the often debilitating notions of territories that we have inherited by activating less visible or dormant sites of knowledge.

Mapping Asia, a publication, exhibition, and talk and performance series, is an extension of the third issue of AAA’s e-journal, Field Notes.

Publication Project

May 2014

Born out of the third issue of Field Notes, AAA's e-journal, Mapping Asia takes physical form in an expanded publication launched in May 2014.
Contributions include a conversation between Rasheed Araeen and Chen Kuan-hsing around ‘Asia as Method’; a new iteration of MAP Office’s Atlas of Asia Art Archive; the first entry in Ho Tzu Nyen’s Critical Dictionary of South East Asia; Francisco Camacho’s hypothesis of the travels of General Zheng He to South America; a film plot by Teboho Edkins exploring new economics of trade and their communities between Africa and China; Yin Ker’s survey of the work of Bagyi Aung Soe; a brief analysis of Okakura's diagram for Asiatic art by Brinda Kumar; Phoebe Wong's consideration of an exhibition as a narrative for Hong Kong’s history; and Adam Bobbette’s comparison of the relationship to land and property between Hong Kong and Yogjakarta. The editors' notes and clippings, as traces of their research, intend to highlight the undercurrents of the text.

The publication is available online at ISSUU. The physical copy can be purchased from AAA's library (Hong Kong), Seoul Museum of Art (Seoul), and Cornerhouse (Manchester, UK). Please contact us for more information.


12 May - 29 August 2014 (extended through October)

Mapping Asia unfolds physically into AAA’s site through an exhibition at the library. The exhibition manifests itself in space through artworks, objects, documentation, and videos and material from AAA's collection.

Artists and participants in the exhibition include: Agha Shahid Ali, Maria Thereza Alves, Bagyi Aung Soe, Adam Bobbette, Giovanni Botero, Francisco Camacho, CAMP, Sumangala Damodaran, Teboho Edkins, Toru Hanai, Harry Harrison, Karta Singh Healy, Zarina Hashmi, Ho Tzu Nyen, Kwan Sheung-chi, MAP Office, Naeem Mohaiemen, Tom Molloy, Erbossyn Meldibekov, Wong Hoy Cheong, Robert Zhao, Zhou Tiehai.

Talk and Performance Programmes

24 April - October 2014

Floating Citizens: On being “included-out” in Hong Kong
Talk by John Nguyet Erni
Professor of Humanities and Creative Writing, Hong Kong Baptist University
Thursday 24 April | A Space, Asia Art Archive | 12 – 1.30pm

Rage, Hope and Love: Working with Communities & Housing
Talk by Wong Hoy Cheong at AAA brunch during Art Basel Hong Kong
Artist, Community/Political Party Worker
Friday 16 May | A Space, Asia Art Archive 
Brunch 10.30am - 12.30pm | Talk: 11am – 12pm

Mapping routes from the 'Asian Modern' to the 'Asian Contemporary' in India and Korea
Talk by John Clark
Emeritus Professor, Art History, University of Sydney
Thursday 22 May | A Space, Asia Art Archive | 6.30 – 8pm

Singing Resistance: a musical performance with Sumangala Damodaran
Songs by Sumangala Damodaran, Co-presented with Spring Workshop 
Saturday 14 June | Spring Workshop | 6 - 8pm

African musicians in search of the ‘Chinese Dream’: beyond the narratives of trade and immigration
Talk by Roberto Castillo
PhD candidate in Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Thursday 17 July | A Space, Asia Art Archive | 12 - 2pm

A Journey
Talk and Performance by Hu Yun
Monday 25 August A Space, Asia Art Archive | 6.30 - 8pm

Making and Breaking a Cantonese Art World in 1800-1850
Talk by Yeewan Koon
Associate Professor, Fine Arts Department, Hong Kong University
Friday 10 October A Space, Asia Art Archive | 12 - 2pm

contemporary modern folk
Tour, Performance by contemporary dancer Yang Hao, and Closing Reception
Saturday 11 October A Space & Library, Asia Art Archive | 3 - 6pm

Special Thanks to all the of the artists, contributors and speakers, Mimi Brown, Claire & Francis Heritage Lane, Gallery EXIT, Anjali and Gaurav Grover, LAAB, Mondriaan Foundation, Pansodan Gallery, Project Projects, Rossi & Rossi Hong Kong, Rubicon Projects DUBLIN, ShanghART Gallery, Songyin Ge Collection, Spring Workshop, Raffi Vartanian, Benjamin Vuchot, Athena Wu, Chris Wu.


  • Mapping Asia: A Tour of the Exhibition
  • Floating Citizens: On being "Included-Out" in Hong Kong
  • Rage, Hope and Love: Working with Communities & Housing
  • Mapping Routes from the 'Asian Modern' to the 'Asian Contemporary' in India and Korea
  • Singing Resistance: A Musical Performance with Sumangala Damodaran
  • African Musicians in Search of the 'Chinese Dream': Beyond the Narratives of Trade and Immigration
  • Hu Yun: A Journey
Image: Travel photo taken in the 1970s in Hong Kong, 20 years before the handover of British-colonial Hong Kong to Mainland China.
Image: Mapping Asia publication.
Image: Mapping Asia exhibition at Asia Art Archive library.
Image: Mapping Asia exhibition at Asia Art Archive library.
Image: Mapping Asia exhibition at Asia Art Archive library
Image: Mapping Asia programme, 'Rage, Hope and Love: Working with Communities & Housing' talk by Wong Hoy Cheong.
Image: Mapping Asia programme, 'Singing Resistance: A Musical Performance with Sumangala Damodaran' co-presented with Spring Workshop.


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