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
ISBN (Electronic)1-5275-2217-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book


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

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