Companionable Objects, Companionable Conscience: Reflections on Sunaryo's Titik Nadir

Watch the entire talk here

Date: 30 March 2012, Friday
Time: 4pm
Venue: NUS Museum

Admission free. To register email: or call 6516 8817 / 8429

Although this is increasingly a time of transnational solidarities, an unwavering commitment to or concern about the nation has been a longstanding and primary factor in the shaping of art works and biographical art writing in Indonesia.  This talk explores the summons of the nation in the making of “companionable objects” and a “companionable conscience” in Indonesia’s artworld.  I focus in particular on an installation presented by the acclaimed Indonesian artist, Sunaryo, a 1998 work called Titik Nadir (“The Low Point”), put together as Soeharto’s regime fell apart.  The evocative objects and iconoclastic gestures that made up Titik Nadir in some ways subverted or exceeded the “conscionable” and oblige us to reflect on what may be spent or lost in aligning one’s heart and art with the nation and a national art public.

Chairperson: Prof. Prasenjit Duara, Asia Research Institute & Office of Research, Humanities and Social Sciences Research, National University of Singapore. 

This talk is co-organised by Asia Research Institute and NUS Museum

About the Speaker
Kenneth M. George has been a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1999, having served previously at Harvard University and the University of Oregon. He is a specialist on Southeast Asia and a Past Editor of the Journal of Asian Studies (2005-2008). His ethnographic research in Indonesia has focused on the cultural politics of minority ancestral religions (1982-1992), and more recently (1994-2008), on a long-term collaboration with painter A. D. Pirous, exploring the aesthetic, ethical, and political ambitions shaping Islamic art and art publics in that country. His books include: Showing Signs of Violence: The Cultural Politics of a Twentieth-Century Headhunting Ritual (awarded the 1998 Harry J. Benda Prize for best book on Southeast Asia by the Association for Asian Studies); Spirited Politics: Religion and Public Life in Contemporary Southeast Asia (co-edited with Andrew C. Willford); and most recently, Picturing Islam: Art and Ethics in a Muslim Lifeworld. Ken has been the recipient of major postdoctoral fieldwork fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. His fellowships for writing and study include awards from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Study.   He is currently a Senior Fellow at the UW-Madison Institute for Research in the Humanities.


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