Craft in Contemporary Art


In this session, we invite two speakers to examine the position of craft in modern aesthetics. From this discussion, we present a fairly comprehensive introduction about how craft becomes the subordinate in the paradigm of the modern aesthetic. This time we want to develop the outcome of the conversation, take a step forward by looking critically at how craft is placed in contemporary art (discourse and practice). The word "contemporary" here refers not only to the passage of time (the present) but also in its discursive context; the paradigm of "contemporary" in the art that becomes antinomy for the modern art.

How is craft positioned in the context of contemporary art? The question will be the highlight of this session of Craftmantalk. There is no general agreement as a marker of the beginning era of contemporary art. In the context of Western art, some might refer to the 1960s, some will refer to the post-1989. In other regions, the time points are different; South Africa (post-apartheid), China (post-cultural revolution), etc. In the context of Indonesian art, opinions about the early period of the contemporary era are also different. In short, every place has a distinct practice and different forms of meaning about what contemporary work is.

Paradigmatically, the practice and the discourse of contemporary art (especially in the context of Western art) seek to transcend the dichotomy between fine art and craft. The dichotomy is considered problematic and is no longer relevant. There are so many practices that combine the two, so the limit becomes very blurred. Craft is generally designated (and marked) as a practice based on material, engineering and/or craftsmanship can be used in other forms of practice, vice versa. This discourse is certainly interesting and we hope to be able to discuss it in this session.

Therefore in this opportunity, we invite two speakers who will inspire the subject of craft in an abstract context. The first speaker, Alia Swastika, will discuss the title in the realm of Indonesian art (and perhaps, some examples of practices in Southeast Asia). While the second speaker, Hsiang-Wen Chen, will discuss the same topic in the context of contemporary art in Taiwan.