The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, the inaugural exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. The exhibition features work by 22 artists and collectives representing some of the most compelling and innovative voices in South and Southeast Asia today. Focusing on the region’s shifting spectrum of creative practices, the exhibition traces networks of intellectual exchange and influence, and considers the various impacts of ethno-nationalism, colonization, and globalization on national identity. The exhibition features painting, sculpture, photography, video, works on paper, and installation, the majority of which will be on view in the United States for the first time. All works have been newly acquired for the Guggenheim’s collection under the auspices of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund. Following its presentation in New York, No Country is expected to travel to venues in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Drawn from the opening line in W.B. Yeats’s poem “Sailing to Byzantium” (1928), which was later adopted by Cormac McCarthy for his novel No Country for Old Men (2005), the exhibition title No Country evokes the concept of a culture without borders. Investigating the diversity of contemporary artistic practice in South and Southeast Asia through the work of a cross-generational selection of artists and in the context of the region’s problematic borders, the exhibition traces the complex relationships and cultural influences that connect the area’s people to each other and the rest of the world.
Among the works’ themes are: concepts of nation, identity, and religion; cross-cultural encounter and negotiation; and historical interpretation and narrative. Many make use of cultural appropriation and emergent media.