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  • Writer's pictureART HISTORY

Recent Student & Alumni Publications

Loo Zihan, Cane, 2012, performance documentation, The Substation Theatre, Singapore. Source: Photograph by Samantha Tio on Loo Zihan's website:

Exposing the State: Loo Zihan's Queer Performance by Aiden Magro

Recent Honours graduate Aiden Magro has published an article in Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia, Volume 5, Numbers 1 & 2, October 2021


After the controversy of Josef Ng's Brother Cane in 1994, which resulted in the ban on licensing and funding of performance art and Forum Theatre in Singapore for nearly a decade, the government's conditional support for the contemporary arts remains an issue. Since the loosening of the de facto ban in 2003, queer performance artist Loo Zihan has spoken out about the continued regulation of queer content. However, in order to speak about this, Loo was required to submit a script to the Media Development Authority. I examine Loo's Cane (2012), which reenacted Brother Cane, in light of Singapore's sexual politics and cultural policies. I focus on the trope of the "global Asian queer boy" in Cane and its mingling with his position as a performance artist. I reveal how in putting these troubled positions in conversation, he has created a local imaginary of queer identity that expresses the abilities and inabilities, visibilities and invisibilities, presences and absences of queer performance in Singapore.


Aiden Magro is a recent graduate of the University of Sydney's art history honours programme. He is the recipient of the University Medal, an award given to acknowledge outstanding academic achievement over the course of a student's enrolment. In 2020, he presented a paper titled "Collage as Queer Strategy: Simon Fujiwara's Joanne (2016)" for the Collage Research Network's Queering Collage Symposium. His research interests include performance art, censorship of art and queer art. He intends to continue his research next year in the form of a PhD.

Symbiosis as Resistance in The National 2021: New Australian Art Exhibition Review by Claire Ollivain

Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia Volume 5, Numbers 1 & 2, October 2021

Fiona Hall. Exodust, 2021. Burnt tree, rope, iron bell, LED lighting, eucalyptus sapling, birds' nests, water-based oil on burnt book, water-based oil on burnt fabric. Photograph by Felicity Jenkins. Courtesy of Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Showing at three major cultural institutions in Sydney, The National 2021: New Australian Art is the third in a series of biennale survey exhibitions placing a spotlight on contemporary Australian art. There is no unifying theme to different iterations of The National across the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art, contradicting a potential reading of the title as a suggestion of national commonality. Nevertheless, interconnected threads of concern can be discerned, given artists' engagement with issues of present urgency and the distinct curatorial gesture at each institution. The socio-political and ecological upheavals of the last year: the 2019–20 bushfires in Australia, the Black Lives Matter protests, the pandemic, have shaped both artists' and curators' choices in The National 2021. One significant common thread is a renewed interest in practices of care and symbiosis among human and non-human networks, in recognition of the disastrous impacts of colonisation.


Claire Ollivain is an Honours student at the University of Sydney, majoring in English and Art History. She is an editor of the student newspaper Honi Soit which publishes news, culture, opinion and satire. In 2020 she was awarded the Francis Stuart Prize for Asian art history at the University of Sydney and was also a member of the Art Gallery of New South Wales youth collective. Her interests are in film, photography, and the relationship between politics and aesthetics.

‘Inventing Artifice: Francois Boucher's Collection at the Louvre’, by Jessica Priebe

in Making Ideas Visible in the Eighteenth Century edited by Jennifer Milam and Nicola Parsons (University of Delaware, 2022).


This volume considers how ideas were made visible through the making of art and visual experience occasioned by reception during the long eighteenth century. The event that gave rise to the collection was the 15th David Nochol Smith Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies, which launched a new Australian and New Zealand Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies. Two strands of interest are explored by the individual authors. The first four essays work with ideas about material objects and identity formation, suggesting how the artist's physical environment contributes to the sense of self, as a practicing artist or artisan, as an individual patron or collector, or as a woman or religious outsider. The last four essays address the intellectual work that can be expressed through or performed by objects. Through a consideration of the material formation of concepts, this book explores questions that are implicated by the need to see ideas in painted, sculpted, illustrated, and designed forms. In doing so, it introduces new visual materials and novel conceptual models into traditional accounts of the intellectual history of the Enlightenment.


Dr Jessica Priebe is a graduate of the University of Sydney and former research fellow in Enlightenment Studies with the Sydney Intellectual History Network. A specialist in eighteenth-century visual and material culture, her research interests include collecting, museum studies, Caribbean art, the unideal body, and the role of tokenisation in contemporary art. She is the author of François Boucher and the Art of Collecting in Eighteenth-Century France (Routledge, 2021). Her essays appear in British Art Studies, The Journal of the History of Collections, Paul Mellon Centre Notes, Un Abrégé du Monde: Savoirs et Collections autour de Dezallier d’Argenville (Fage éditions, 2012), Making Ideas Visible in the Eighteenth Century (University of Delaware Press, 2021), and Sea Currents: Art, Science and the Commodification of the Ocean World in the Long Nineteenth Century (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2022).

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