Pollination #3 (2020/2021)

About ‘Pollination’ 
Initiated by The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in 2018, ‘Pollination’ provides emerging curators and artists in South East Asia the opportunity to co-produce and collaborate, to mutually benefit from this region’s private arts infrastructure – platforms recognizing the value of sharing (pollinating) their critical ideas and activities. Aiming to set up a regional community of producers linking talent to network, space and opportunity, ’Pollination’ seeks to nurture artistic practice via curatorial enquiry, with the view that deeper connections between artists and curators enable critical reflection, writing and dialog – a discourse greatly needed as an intra-regional comparable accessible resource. ‘Pollination’ is envisaged as a long-term collaborative exercise between different institutions/community groups across Southeast Asia, with the aim of offering emerging curatorial and artistic talent the chance to work with other like-minded entities in their region. As one of the first private/non-governmental initiatives of its kind, ‘Pollination’ aims to develop and nurture the skills and relationships between artists and curators interested in working (and questioning) institutional structures of display in Southeast Asia.
Our methodology
Each year, ‘Pollination’ invites an additional organization/community group to appoint a senior curatorial advisor. They in turn select an emerging curator who follows on to select an emerging artist. Dependent on location of funds, space and time, each year an edition is realized between two cities, comprised of travel, research, production and exhibition grants in the realization of a joint project (which is open-ended in form). Regardless of project involvement, regular meetings online are arranged to critically discuss forward projects and possible initiatives.
A ‘Pollination’ project
Opening 19 March, 2021 @ MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai
Featuring artists Maryanto (Yogyakarta) and Ruangsak Anuwatwimon (Bangkok)
Curated by ‘Pollination’ curators LIR (Yogyakarta) and Kittima Chareeprasit (Chiang Mai)
Organized by: The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City
Co-sponsored by SAM Art & Ecology Fund and MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum
Curatorial advisors: Zoe Butt, Agung Jennong and Vipash Puranichanayanont
‘The Hunters’ is an exhibition resulting from extensive collaborative research undertaken over the last 12 months beneath the volcanic activity of Mount Merapi, Yogyakarta; and along the increasingly dammed river routes of the lower Mekong, on the borders between Thailand and Laos. Prompted by the artistic languages and methods of chosen artists Maryanto and Ruangsak, Pollination curators LIR and Kittima have curated an exhibition where the practice of sustainable living provokes need of respect for the interdependent wisdom between the human and non-human worlds, evident in local forms of wisdom (or what the curators define as an ‘embodied’[1] knowledge).
Hosted by the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Chiang Mai, both artists are creating new bodies of work, inspired by local folk-lore which share the lives of particular mythical ‘hunter’, comparing the ethos of such stories to our contemporary moment. Maryanto’s tent-like installations, composed of paintings in charcoal and earth, share local knowledge of living with respect for Nature and its spirits, concerned by the impact of illegal, corporate and government hunting of water and sand, beneath Mount Merapi (Maryanto’s home turf). Ruangsak’s varied installations beg acknowledgement of the many animals whose lives are jeopardized along the heavy damming of the Mekong, creating various diorama from their bones as monument to their spirits that once guarded this crucial waterway. Such projects are but the beginning of what will be presented, ultimately throwing into question the assumptions and illusions of resource and their landscape, critical of social reliance on instruments of science and technology, deeply aware of how their manipulation leads to ignorance, misinformation and greed.
As Maryanto and Ruangsak are compelled by the realities faced by local peoples living with such exploitation, the curators thus also intend to showcase the artistic research of each artist (photographic and film documentation; sketches, sound recordings and more), alongside a dedicated video interview between the artists unpacking their relationship to the idea of the ‘hunter’ and how this unveils in their respective artistic practices.
As further reflection on their overall ‘Pollination’ project, the curators share:
‘In March 2020, on the day of our first in-situ meeting for our Pollination project, in Bandung, the first Covid-19 case in Indonesia was announced. In Thailand, the announcement came a few weeks before. The crisis has escalated to a global pandemic, a global experience, highlighting not only the performance of systems and government capabilities in handling critical circumstances, but also in tandem revealing this pandemic is inextricably tied to the environmental crisis facing our earth. This illness, once confined to animals 
[2] has been transmitted to humans, and has mutated into multiple different strains (invariably due to reckless human mobility). The virus could be seen as a form of retaliation imposed by the earth for our exploitation of its resources, reflecting the way in which humans have encroached upon, and violated nature as a 'hunter'.  As borders close and strict lockdowns are enforced, human mobility is restricted for safety concerns. Under such circumstances, our ‘Pollination’ project, focuses on our local geographical imaginations, digging deeper, primarily focusing on local embodied knowledge [3], seeking insight on how to balance human desire with its object, considering the impact of such ‘hunt’ on both human and non-human alike. We thus tried to find ways of 'gathering'​knowledge from different bodies of lore by following the natural trails of rivers and mountains, sinking islands and backyard cemeteries, to home-gardening and sites of deforestation across South East Asia, and other comparable environmental issues closer to home’.
This third edition of ‘Pollination’, titled ‘Of Hunters & Gatherers’, whose research began pre-pandemic in 2020, is composed of an exhibition, symposia and dedicated website:
    . ‘The Hunters’
    Exhibition opening 19 March 2021 @ MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum (Chiang Mai)
    . ‘The Gatherers’
    Symposia (online) from 28-30 May 2021, co-hosted by Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (Bandung) and    The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre (Ho Chi Minh City)
    . ‘www.ofhuntersandgatherers.com’
    Dedicated website launching 28 May, 2021
With contributions by Tita Salina, Sutthirat Supaparinya, Prilla Tania, The Forest Curriculum, and Wut Chalanant (artists); Elizabeth D. Inandiak, Adam Bobbette, JJ Rizal, and Napak Serirak (writers, academics); alongside ‘Pollination’ participants Maryanto and Ruangsak Anuwatwimon (artists) and LIR and Kittima Chareeprasit (curators). Edited by Zoe Butt and Lee Weng Choy.

Organized by:

Co-sponsored by:

Supported by:

[1] ‘Local embodied knowledge’ is here understood as ‘local wisdom’ within the Indonesian context; or as ‘local spiritual knowledge’ within the Thai context. Both these attempts at translating local words “kearifan lokal” and ‘ภูมิปัญญาท้องถิ่น’ into English are, however, insufficient. In short, ‘local embodied knowledge’ refers to the practice of learning whereby the body receives ‘practice’ in specific sites, with specific rituals. It is understood that the experiential knowing of knowledge and its continuous presence in community – via oral storytelling, spiritual or religious ritual, folkloric superstition – are undervalued or little taught within the dominant cultural memory of both countries. In the context of ‘Pollination #3’, ‘local embodied knowledge’ is particularly explored in relation to ideas of human ecology and its natural environment.)

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7487339/ and https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17687-3 The covid-19 case was first suspected to be carried and transmitted from animal to human although the role of animal in this case turns out to be still up for debate.