Artist Talk

Alternate Histories

Alternate Histories (Alternative Geschichte-n)
© Goethe-Institut Jakarta

5 PM (GMT+07:00) Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta


An artist talk with FX Harsono, Khvay Samnang, Koh Nguang How with Chairat Polmuk as discussant, in conjunction with the exhibition ERRATA, part of the long-term project Collecting Entanglements and Embodied Histories.

  • Berlin: 11am, 28 January
  • Jakarta & Bangkok: 5pm, 28 January
  • Singapore: 6pm, 28 January

The heart of the long-term project Collecting Entanglements and Embodied Histories lies in its last key word with reference to the many different versions of history. Curator Gridthiya Gaweewong (better known as Jeab)—in association with the project’s curatorial team members Anna-Catharina Gebbers, Grace Samboh, and June Yap—launches the ongoing exhibition titled ERRATA at MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Chiang Mai. The exhibition is an attempt to present alternate histories and small narratives through the works of 38 artists and four archives.

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Jeab’s main inspiration in putting together ERRATA is an exhibition of the same name initiated by artist and researcher Koh Nguang How in Singapore’s independent art space p-10 in 2004. The exhibition is based on Koh’s attempt to revise an error in Singapore Art Museum (SAM)’s first catalogue on Singapore art, published in 1996. Instead of letting the museum know, he informed the borrower (Fukuoka Art Museum) of the error on the date of painting by Chua Mia Tee. The painting was on loan from SAM, and following Koh’s intervention, Fukuoka Art Museum timely included it in the errata list for their exhibition in 1997. Noticing that SAM did not correct the error even in 2004, he made an exhibition out of it. Koh has since been known for his extensive archives on Singapore and Southeast Asia’s cultural development. ERRATA at MAIIAM is a metaphor that represents MAIIAM’s collection and selected works as an alternative history in modern and contemporary Thai art history and beyond.  

The talk features Cambodian artist Khvay Samnang, whose work Rubber Man (2015) puts a spotlight on land exploitation in his homeland with reference to the French colonial era. In this work, the artist is seen on a video recorded at Rattanakiri province imitating a rubber tree spirit by walking around with fresh liquid rubber poured onto his body, as if embodying the trees who responded to the fact that they were replaced with another crop in the name of land privatization.

Indonesian artist FX Harsono talks about Rewriting the Erased Name (2009), one of his earlier works created as a remembrance to his experience during Indonesia’s New Order. The work showcases the artist’s determination to remember his Indonesian-Chinese identity following anti-Chinese regulations in the country in the name of national unity.

The discussion is moderated by lecturer Chairat Polmuk, who will reflect on the exhibition and discuss how different art practices can tackle entangled histories from different approaches-art, history, and collective memory which affect the speakers’ current socio-political context.


FX HARSONO (B. 1948)
is a seminal figure in the Indonesian contemporary art scene. His artistic language is relatable to the current new social and cultural contexts. He has been highlighting issues concerned with the Indonesian-Chinese minority in Indonesia since 2000. FX Harsono studied painting at STSRI "ASRI", Yogyakarta from 1969 to 1974 and at IKJ (Jakarta Art Institute) from 1987 to 1991. He received the Prince Clause Award (Netherlands) in 2014. In 2015 he received the Joseph Balestier Award For the Freedom of Art from the US Embassy and Art Stage Singapore.

lives and works in Phnom Penh. He graduated from the Painting Department at the Royal University of Fine Art. Samnang’s multidisciplinary practice offers new views of historic and current events and of traditional cultural rituals using humorous symbolic gestures. He focuses on the humanitarian and ecological impacts of colonialism and globalization. His artworks have been exhibited at home and abroad in major exhibitions and festivals including Tramway (Glasgow), 1st Helsinki Biennial, Daegu Art Museum (Korea), Children’s Biennale 2021 (Singapore), Haus der Kunst (Munich), Frieze 2019 (London), Batia Saem Gallery (Siem Reap), Art gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), Biennale of Sydney, documenta 14 (Kassel), Tomio Koyama Gallery (Tokyo), Orange County Museum of Art (California, USA), Jim Thompson Art Center (Bangkok), Jue de Paume (Paris), and Queens Museum, The Jewish Museum (NYC, USA).

worked with the National Museum Art Gallery as curatorial assistant from Oct. 1985 to Jan. 1992. He has been associated with the art collective The Artists Village since 1989. He began exhibiting art archives from 1992 in “Performance Week” at Gallery 21 (Singapore) and notably in the ERRATA exhibition at p-10 (Singapore) in 2004. He initiated his Singapore Art Archive Project (SAAP) in 2005 and has subsequently presented more than 15 thematic works and exhibitions under the SAAP in Singapore and abroad.


is a lecturer at the Department of Thai, Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok), where he teaches Southeast Asian languages and literature, cultural theory, and media studies. He received a PhD in Asian Literature, Religion, and Culture from Cornell University. His research focuses on affective and intermedial aspects of post-cold war literature and visual culture, especially in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. His writing has appeared in Journal of Letters and Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia. He has also written articles on Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Rithy Panh for Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies. Chairat is a member of the editorial collective at Southeast of Now.


is a dialogue between the collections of Galeri Nasional Indonesia, MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and Singapore Art Museum. Initiated by the Goethe-Institut, the project manifests as four exhibitions with distinctive curatorial narratives in the four collaborating institutions, regular online public programs livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube, a video essay series by art practitioners on selected artists and more. The curatorial team consists of Anna-Catharina Gebbers, Grace Samboh, Gridthiya Gaweewong, and June Yap.


Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan Galeri Nasional Indonesia MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum Nationalgalerie Berlin Singapore Art Museum