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Monstrous Territories, Queer Propositions: Negotiating The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, between Australia, the Philippines, and Other (Island) Worlds

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image of Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas

For the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) (2015–16), Sydney-based artists Justin Shoulder and Bhenji Ra collaborated to present Ex Nilalang, a series of filmic and live portraits exploring Philippine mythology and marginalized identities. The artists’ shared Filipino ancestry, attachments to the Filipino diasporic community, and investigations into “Philippine-ness” offer obvious cultural connections to the “Asia Pacific” concerns of the APT. However, their aesthetic interests in inhabiting fictional spaces marked by the “fantastic” and the “monstrous”—alongside the lived reality of their critical queer positions and life politics—complicate any straightforward identification. If the Philippine archipelago and island continent of Australia are intersecting cultural contexts for their art, the artists’ queering of identity in art and life emphasizes a range of cultural orientations informing subjectivities, always under negotiation and transformation, and at once both the product of and in excess of these (island) territories.

Affiliations: 1: Australian National University, Canberra, Australia,


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