The variety of the roles of the curator across distinct institutional systems in Asia – public or private; non-profit or commercial – constituted the point of focus of the first edition of the Asian Curatorial Forum. Relatively recently established across the continent, these systems are porous, and the curator’s many roles across them remain fluid. Discussions at the Forum examined the impact this fluidity may have on the definition of the curator’s position. They attempted to re-define the role of the curator so as to better address ambiguities that may exist in the various systems he, or she, operates in. Finally, they endeavoured to outline a common definition of what “to curate” could mean today on the continent.

Acknowledging the unsettled landscape of curatorial practices in Asia, the Asian Curatorial Forum’s ambition was to devise a better integrated ecology of the visual arts sector on the continent. Art bienniales are multiplying, and their format is in constant flux. Public and private art institutions reinvent their models and redefine their roles. The independent endeavour of artists-run spaces bring fertile disruptions to the art conversation. Curators’ field of action extend beyond exhibition-making towards the production of discourse and knowledge in fields where it was previously non-existent. These changes made the case for a robust dialogue to contrive imaginative solutions.

By sharing experiences and confronting challenges common to various Asian contexts, the Forum intended to identify specific, practical solutions that participants could implement in their respective contexts. Discussions between professionals from different backgrounds unfolded across four thematic sessions, each covering important issues currently at play in the visual arts sector in Asia. Presentations of selected regional curatorial initiatives took place before each session to anchor the discussions within the local context of the country and its region.