Photography in Southeast Asia

Photography in Southeast Asia


Photography in Southeast Asia: A Survey

is a comprehensive attempt to map the emergence and trajectories of photographic practices in Southeast Asia. The narrative begins in the colonial era, at the point when the transfer of photographic technology occurred between visiting practitioners and local photographers. With individual chapters dedicated to the countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, The Philippines and Vietnam, the bulk of the book spans the post-WWII era to the contemporary, focusing on practitioners who operate with agency and autonomy. The relationship between art and photography, which has been defined very narrowly over the decades, is re-examined in the process. Photography also offers an entry point into the cultural and social practices of the region, and a prism into the personal desires and creative decisions of its practitioners.

“an innovative approach to a medium that is often not considered an ‘art form’ and is therefore overlooked in surveys of Southeast Asian art history…this original study also offers an insight into the role of images and visuality in shaping Southeast Asian society, culture and politics.”
-Nora Taylor Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art History, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

“An incredible vista of the artistic output and intellectual debates in this culturally rich and diverse but oft-overlooked region, commendable for the writer’s tireless efforts in retracing historic forces and themes and investigating the politics of the image creation shaping Southeast Asian photographers today.”
-Yudhi Soerjoatmodjo Photo Historian

“Informed by years of research in Southeast Asian photography, Wubin’s extensive survey, covering generations of practitioners across 10 countries from Laos to Singapore, extends beyond to offer a glimpse into the region’s colonial and post-colonial histories, politics and social landscapes … (he) also enters rare territory in today’s photography and art writing – criticism, and notably, advocacy and sympathy for the ‘straightness’ of more traditionally motivated and inclined practitioners of photography – outliers, if you will, to whom contemporary art establishment have more often than not, been antagonistic towards.”
-Kevin Lee, Invisible Photographer Asia

Publication Year: 2016
524 pages, 235mm x 187mm
ISBN: 978-981-4722-12-4 Casebound
212 photographs


Related launch events

13 Oct 2016
Objectifs Singapore

Launch of “Photography in Southeast Asia: A Survey”

For the launch, Zhuang Wubin, author of the book, will moderate a short exchange with famed street photographer, Chia Aik Beng, to better understand how the digitisation of photography has shaped his work. Aik Beng will also share his observations on how this development has impacted Singapore photography. This session will end with an open-floor Q&A between the speakers and the audience.

3 Nov 2016
Lostgens’ Contemporary Art Space
(8c, Jln Panggung, 3rd floor, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Launch of “Photography in Southeast Asia: A Survey” + Discussion with art historian Simon Soon

In conjunction with the book launch, there will be a conversation between Zhuang Wubin and art historian Simon Soon about photographic practices and cultures across Southeast Asia.

Co-hosted by Visual Art Department, Cultural Centre, University of Malaya

8 Dec 2016
Book Discussion
Bandung Photography Book Show 2016, part of Bandung Photography Month 2016
(SPASIAL, Jl. Gudang Selatan, Bandung)


“Photography in Southeast Asia: A Survey” (NUS Press, 2016) | Launch + Discussion

No Comment admin December 20, 2016