Tradition Today: Contemporary Craft and Storytelling – S.E.A. Focus

Tradition Today: Contemporary Craft and Storytelling

Tanjong Pagar Distripark
39 Keppel Rd
Singapore 089065

This talk was part of SEAspotlight Talks 2024. Click here to watch the recording online.


What does tradition mean in the context of contemporary art? We ask established Southeast Asian artists, Dinh Q. Lê and Heri Dono to reflect upon their use of craft to share personal and communal stories. Through the conversation, we will uncover what it takes to make the traditional contemporary, and the importance of storytelling to keep both memories and age-old crafts alive.


Dinh Q. Lê, Artist

Dinh Q. Lê was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the US at the age of ten to escape the Khmer Rouge. Lê challenges how our memories are recalled with context in contemporary life; he is known for his large-scale photo-montages, where he weaves photographic strips into a tapestry of images that revolve around the theme of the Vietnam War. Lê’s works document the unheard stories of survivors who endured the first helicopter war. He utilises the artistic process as a tool for examining and unearthing history, exploring the universal themes of loss and redemption. Through his work, he merges Eastern and Western cultures, as well as personal and fictional realities.

Heri Dono, Artist & Director of Studio Kalahan

Born in Jakarta (1960), Heri Dono was the first Indonesian artist to break into the global art scene during the early 1990s. Starting his career in the 80s, he is well-known for contemporary installation works, many of which were inspired by the Javanese shadow puppets (wayang). He tried to comprise a number of complex elements from wayang performances: visual arts, music, storytelling, social criticism, humor, and myths of life philosophy. The traditional art performance inspires Heri Dono’s interest in revitalizing the arts that are deeply rooted in Indonesian traditions.


Lisa Movius, China Bureau Chief and Asia Correspondent, The Art Newspaper

Lisa Movius is a journalist who covered Asia’s art and culture from her Shanghai base since 1998. She has primarily written for The Art Newspaper’s international edition since 2011, while contributing to other publications like the South China Morning Post and the Washington Post. Movius particularly focuses on art’s societal implications and interactions, including questions of expression, equity and access. Movius also worked in live music promotion for a decade, is a cofounder and board member of the Shanghai Foreign Correspondents Club, taught college journalism and art for three years, and currently spearheads an initiative promoting adult-level media literacy education.