Eco-Art Histories as Practice: Woodcut and Cuttings of Wood in Island Southeast Asia

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


    This chapter concerns an art historical, material and practice-led process, encircling stories of wood in island Southeast Asia under the auspices of The Migrant Ecologies Project and evolving through an ongoing series of exhibitions, art publications and hand-animated films. In the following, I trace a coming-together of perspectives of the natural world as inscribed in a migratory art historical form, narrated through perspectives of plant genetics as well as practices of, for example, Southeast Sulawesi tree-lore and regional timber patriarchies. Comparisons and frictions between such perspectives and practices reveal a fecundity of ways that human and non-human agents have colonized and continue to make their presence felt across the archipelago.
    A prevailing concern has been to physically work-through the aesthetics, spirit, material and labor of the mid 20th century Malayan Modern Woodcut movement; a form through which migrant artists of the Chinese left inscribed dreams of permanent residence in the South Seas or Nanyang. A second concern has been a critical-poetic investigation with Singapore’s economic success-story, predicated upon the island-city’s entrepôt processing of regional “cheap nature,” from rubber to palm oil. The resulting works aim to bring, macro and micro practices together and to re-work the micro-gestures of the Malayan Woodcut in a macro-ecological context of “cuttings of wood,” in this case the modern deforestation of the archipelago from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEco-Art History in East and Southeast Asia
    EditorsDe-nin Lee
    Place of PublicationUK
    PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
    ISBN (Electronic)1-5275-2217-2
    ISBN (Print)978-1-5275-2217-6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019
    MoE publication typeA3 Book section, Chapters in research books


    • Contemporary Art
    • Ecology and Art
    • Practice-led Research
    • Art History
    • Southeast Asia
    • Modern Woodcut Movement


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