State of Independence

State of Independence: 

A Global Forum on Alternative Practice


This two-day international forum convenes artists and curators from Asia and Latin America for discussion and debate on the state of independent spaces and alternative practices. 

The conference engages the relevance and sustainability of alternative practice today in regions where art, commerce, and cultural infrastructure are taking new forms. Alternative spaces grow out of necessity and in response to local conditions. They are experimental by nature, often temporary and operate as a provocation to the status quo. As such, the forum examines various independent strategies (spaces, archives, schools, events) as innovative models for imagining curatorial practice and artistic production, while looking closely at specific local situations in Asia and Latin America, in regions where art infrastructures are still developing, to question the possibility of more sustainable futures.

Organized by outgoing REDCAT gallery director/curator Clara Kim with the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the forum is the culmination of a six-month research project conducting fieldwork throughout Asia and Latin America; visiting established and informal independent spaces and organizations; and interviewing a range of artists and curators. The conference is by no means intended to offer a comprehensive view of this expansive and heterogeneous terrain, but rather one that aims to learn from specific and varying case studies in order to unpack and complicate the definitions of "alternative" and "independent.”

Preliminary list of participants: artist and director of SOMA Eduardo Abaroa (Mexico City), founder of El Bodegon Victor Albarracín (Bogota), Mirwan Andan of ruangrupa (Jakarta), artist and director of Watts House Project Edgar Arceneaux (Los Angeles), Lauren Bon of Metabolic Studio (Los Angeles), artist Paulo Bruscky (Recife), co-director of Sàn Art Zoe Butt (Ho Chi Minh City), Janet Chan of Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong), Amy Cheng of Taipei Contemporary Art Center (Taipei), artist and founder of La Galeria de Comercio Abraham Cruzvillegas (Mexico City), artist and founder of Helena Producciones Wilson Díaz (Cali), Nuraini Juliastuti of Kunci Cultural Studies Center (Yogyakarta), Eric Kim of Human Resources (Los Angeles), director of art space pool Heejin Kim (Seoul), artist and editor in chief of East of Borneo Thomas Lawson (Los Angeles), independent curator Carol Yinghua Lu (Beijing) along with moderators Rita Gonzalez, Eungie Joo, Catalina Lozano and Kyong Park.

Saturday, July 23

10:30am: Welcome/Introduction

11am-1pm: A genealogy of independent spaces: charting socio-cultural contexts

Panelists: Heejin Kim of Art Space Pool (Seoul), independent curator Carol Lu (Beijing), Victor Albarracín of El Bodegon (Bogota), independent curator Amy Cheng (Taipei) –– Moderated by Catalina Lozano

2-4pm: Research-based initiatives: archives, libraries, publishing

Panelists: Janet Chan of Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong), Nuraini Juliastuti of KUNCI Cultural Studies Center (Yogyakarta), Eduardo Abaroa of SOMA (Mexico City), Thomas Lawson of East of Borneo (Los Angeles) –– Moderated by Rita Gonzalez

4:30-6pm:New financial architectures for creative communities

Panelists: Molly Surno on Kickstarter, Kris Kuramitsu on USA Projects, Autumn Rooney on Echo Park Time Bank, Elana Mann on The Artist Bailout, Bridget Kelly on Metabollic Studio/ Annenberg Foundation –– Moderated by Edgar Arceneaux


Sunday, July 24

11am-1pm: Outside the white box: re-appropriating land and urban space

Panelists: Edgar Arceneaux of Watts House Project (Los Angeles), Janet Owen Driggs of Metabolic Studio (Los Angeles), Abraham Cruzvillegas of La Galeria de Comercio (Mexico City), Wilson Díaz of Helena Producciones (Cali) –– Moderated by Kyong Park

2-4pm: Alternative spaces as new models for future institutions?

Panelists: Zoe Butt of Sàn Art (Ho Chi Minh City), Mirwan Andan of ruangrupa (Jakarta), Amy Cheng of Taipei Contemporary Art Center (Taipei), Eduardo Abaroa of SOMA (Mexico City), Eric Kim of Human Resources (Los Angeles) –– Moderated by Eungie Joo           

4-4:15pm Closing Remarks           



Funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Special thanks to Lydia Ngai and Mary Lee of Asia Art Archive, Adria Julia, Cristina Tejo, Catalina Lozano, Carol Yinghua Lu, Amy Cheng, Lesley Ma, Ana Paula Cohen, and Michael Worthington.

Associated Images: 

Date/Time G ST CA

G - General Audience

M - REDCAT Members

ST - Students

CA - CalArts Students/Faculty/Staff