COLOMBIA: Fotográfica Bogotá

States of Being: the invisible territories of Asia

TERRITORY DOES NOT SIMPLY DESCRIBE A TRACT OF LAND, but a jurisdiction. Indeed, territory need not describe geographic space at all – it might as easily describe a field of knowledge or professional privilege.

In May 2017, Alasdair Foster gave a keynote paper entitled ‘States of Being: the invisible territories of Asia’ at the Ciclo Teórico conference in Bogotá. The lecture received a very positive and enthusiastic response from the audience and was subsequently published the National Photography Museum in a substantial book of essays and portfolios from the festival.

In his lecture, Dr. Foster explored photographic work by artists from across the continent of Asia who address, in various ways, notions of territory. Broadly these will span three categories: political territories, including zones of conflict and no-go areas; colonised territories, including personal space; and plural territories that are understood and ‘owned’ differently by separate groups or histories concurrently.

THE PRESENTATION spanned the work of eighteen artists from nine countries: Maika Elan (Vietnam), Gauri Gill And Rajesh Vangad (India), Tomoki Imai (Japan), Jannatul Mawa (Bangladesh), Hyewon Keum (South Korea), Wilfred Lim (Malaysia), Munem Wasif (Bangladesh), Sontag Noh (South Korea), Suk Kuhn Oh (South Korea), Jongwoo Park (South Korea), Xiangjie Peng (China), Motoyuki Shitamichi (Japan), Manit Sriwanichpoom (Thailand), Ian Teh (Malaysia), Vandy Rattana (Cambodia), Xu Hao (China) and Yee I-Lann (Malaysia).

From Malaysia’s porous state of Sabah to the war-scarred landscapes of Cambodia; from the Korean demilitarised zone to the sector of exclusion around Japan’s Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant; from the invisible walls in a middle class Bangladeshi household to China’s empire of dwarves, the lecture explored the concepts, behaviours and barbed wire that delineate and define a diverse range of territories across Asia.

THE CICLO TEÓRICO  is one of South America’s leading photo-theory conferences, which, in 2017, ran from 15 to 19 May. Dr. Foster’s lecture was presented on Wednesday 17 May in the Teatro México of the Universidad Central, Bogotá. The paper was presented at the invitation of Fotográfica Bogotá and its parent body FotoMuseo (the national museum of photography in Colombia) and in association with Cultural Development Consulting, Sydney, and RMIT University, Melbourne.


Images (from the top):
Alasdair Foster speaking at the Ciclo Teórico, 17 May 2017 (photo: Murray Fredericks)
© Yee I-Lann ‘Map’ from the series ‘Sulu Stories’ 2005
© Ian Teh ‘New residential development. Guide, Qinghai, China’ 2014 from the series ‘Traces II: The Source’
Approximately 300 miles northeast of Ngoring Lake, an as-yet uninhabited residential development rises from the plateau. In between the buildings grass has begun to regrow and resettled Tibetan nomads let their herds graze the small patches. The resettlement of a once nomadic people has compressed the space humans and animals occupy on the plateau. Studies have shown that the plateau and its delicate ecology are better equipped to withstand human populations that are spread out rather than concentrated into high density conurbation areas like towns and cities.
© Xu Hao from the series ‘Home’
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  • The majority of the texts on this site are by Alasdair Foster and represent his opinions. However, in order to facilitate a useful diversity of views, some texts have been invited from artists and colleagues around the world, while others appear as independent comments. These opinions and comments are not necessarily those of Alasdair Foster or Cultural Development Consulting (CDC). All data and information on this site is provided on an as-is basis. While every effort is made to be as thorough as possible, neither Alasdair Foster nor CDC make representations as to accuracy, completeness, currency, suitability or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.
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