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Asian Art Research Symposium - John Clark: Asian Art History in Australia, it's Functions & Audience

This paper examines the institutional focuses of tasks of Asian art history, its place within universities in the broader art-historical training of undergraduate and graduate students, and in the diffusion of results of research to non-Asian art history specialists.

Asian art exhibitions range from pre- modern historical and sometimes populist survey exhibitions to contemporary art exhibitions in state and national galleries sometimes organised as a part of country to country exchanges, as regional Asian survey exhibitions which implicate Australian contemporary art practice, or as an Asian inclusion in biennials such as Sydney, and in large scale triennials such as in the Asia–Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane. These institutions are one of the bases for appraisal circuits, both domestic and external, for circulation of Asian and Asian-Australian art and artists.

Important parts of linkage structures remain unseen in the implicit membership of self-interested cohorts and funding bodies. Whilst the public political motivations of institutions and curators can be inferred, these do not always make explicit personal motivations. The relatively small size of the curatorial body concerned with Asian art in Australia with other partners in funding bodies and government bureaucracies has governing functions that allow use of the term ‘curatoriate’ and one of the gifts of art history back to art is to critically understand and re-appraise these circuits.

This talk was a part of ’Asian Art Research in Australia and New Zealand: Past, Present, Future’, a day-long symposium presented by the Power Institute and Department of Art History, at the University of Sydney.

Held on 15 October 2015, the symposium brought together scholars and curators from across institutions, fields, and practices explore the particular historical developments that have come to constitute the study of Asian art in Australia and New Zealand.

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