Print this Page. Send this Page.

Isabel Ching

Graduate Student

Isabel Ching

Contact information

Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies
Voßstraße 2, Building 4400
Room 17
69115 Heidelberg

+49 (0) 6221 54 4012

About Isabel Ching


Isabel Ching holds a Masters of Arts (Art History & Theory, Merit Award) from the University of Sydney, Australia, and was adjunct lecturer for the Masters of Asian Art Histories programme at Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate and member of the Cluster's Graduate Program for Transcultural Studies. She was the project coordinator for the Cluster's interdisciplinary research network Net1 Arts and the Transcultural: Concepts, Histories and Practices, and scientific co-organizer of the Cluster's international Summer School in 2015. She has also curated exhibitions of artists from China, Hong Kong, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, and was recently curator of the 9th BrandNew Art Project in 2014 hosted by the Bangkok University, Thailand. Ching's writings have also appeared in journals like Third Text and DiAAAlogue. She is co-founder of the refereed journal Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art.


PhD Research Project:

Frames of Conceptualism from Southeast Asia: Myanmar, the Philippines and Singapore from 1960s to 1990s 

The rise of conceptualism in art in Southeast Asia is rooted in a dense matrix of socio-political circumstances marked by the Cold War, when national concerns were interwoven with the gathering momentum of globalism in the 1960s–70s. It is deeply imbricated with modernization and developmental projects that propelled the travels and introduction of ‘new’ art forms to varying contexts of artistic modernity. Yet it also presents possibilities of breaking from the frame of avant-gardistic styles moored to modernism’s preoccupation with issues of originality and its centre-periphery model of diffusion. My thesis expounds on historical and critical perspectives of the “inconvenient” practices of Roberto Chabet (1937-2013, the Philippines), Cheo Chai-Hiang (b. 1946, Singapore) and Po Po (b. 1957, Myanmar), to develop ways of examining conceptualism in Southeast Asia as an intertwined proposition and provocation to modes of modernism. The three artists have been regarded as pioneers of conceptualism within their respective localities, yet have been marginalized in the projects of constructing national and regional art historiographies.  Against the characterization of conceptualism as yet another belated and/or misinterpreted “Western” art import, my research attempts to capture the contemporaneous urgencies in their negotiations and renegotiations of its meanings, thereby divesting conceptualism in Southeast Asia of any integral “source” or clear “borders”. It will rely on critical investigation of written texts, analysis of artworks, and the conduct of interviews and other primary sources such as personal correspondence, exhibition notes and contemporaneous news articles to map out artistic connections and the production, dissemination and reception of conceptualism. By investigating how artistic ideas and knowledge discourses of the post-Fluxus milieu travel and get translated/transformed – and the contestations over their framings – I aim to develop ways to narrate a more complicated history(s) of global conceptualism(s) from the vantage point of Southeast Asia. The prospects include expansion and re-evaluation of the normative paradigms for situating and interpreting critical artistic responses post-WWII.