South by Southeast, a group exhibition showing works of artists from sixteen different countries, focuses on a very particular area: the southeast.
Commonplace is the notion that the south lies at the opposite of the north, which is supposedly ascendant, more prone to power, closer to the imagined center. The south is cast as peripheral and dispossessed, gathered at the perceived fringes of province on a map of asymmetries. Such a curious psycho-geographical, or geopolitical imagination yields another antinomy: the west and the east, bearing more or less equivalent valences as north and south. In this attempt at reducing the world to polarities and verticalities, the west is modern and everywhere and the east is timeless and far. Exceptional is the situation in which the south and the east cohere to form the coordinate of the southeast, possibly a double negation: not north, not west.
How do we figure the southeast? And how do we do it across the globe in which lateral coordinates might emerge? This is an initial effort and it involves contemplating a possible liaison between two articulations of the south east, one in Asia, the other in Europe, both rendered proximate in such a way that they converse across distance and form vectors of relations that craft robust narratives of the contemporary and of history, categories to which the term is appended: contemporary art and history of art / art history.