Institute of Advanced Studies

Public Lecture by James Bennett

 

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View from the Shore: the cultural impact of globalization on Indonesia during the Age of Spices

A public lecture by James Bennett, Curator of Asian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia and co-curator of Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices exhibition.

James BennettThe first Europeans arriving in the Indonesian archipelago in the 16th century encountered wealthy multicultural societies whose maritime networks stretched halfway around the globe. In the emporiums of the great ports of Melaka, Banten and Makassar were Middle Eastern, South and East Asian merchants trading in spices as well as imported luxury products, such as brilliantly dyed Indian textiles and Chinese porcelain.

This environment of commercial vibrancy ensured that the coastal Malay and Javanese sultanates established close connections with the international world of Islam. Muslim identity inspired the development of a sophisticated cultural milieu whose art forms defined an era now known as the pesisir, meaning ‘coastline’. The subsequent ascendancy of the Dutch East Indies Company traumatically impacted on the sultanate rulers’ ability to maintain patronage of the visual and performing arts. By the 18th century, Melaka, Banten and Makassar were reduced to half-deserted provincial towns. A new style of city landscape, nurturing its own distinct Eurasian population and hybrid aesthetic fashions, arose at Batavia, modern-day Jakarta, the Company’s capital in the East Indies.

In this lecture, James Bennett explored the Indonesian pesisir art featured in Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices. He discussed the cultural impact of globalization on the art of the archipelago that resulted in 19th century European colonial rulers perceiving its aesthetic identity merely as ‘traditional craft’.

James Bennett is Curator of Asian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia and co-curator of Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices. He has worked as a professional theatre designer, textile arts lecturer and community arts adviser at Milikapiti on Melville Island, NT. His batik textiles are represented in public collections around Australia. His major exhibitions and catalogue publications include Crescent Moon: Islamic art and civilisation of Southeast Asia (2005), Golden Journey: Japanese art from Australian collections (2009), Beneath the winds: Masterpieces of Southeast Asian art (2011) and Realms of wonder: Jain, Hindu and Islamic art of India (2013).

Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices Lecture Series

The Institute of Advanced Studies and the Art Gallery of Western Australia were pleased to co-sponsor a special lecture series in conjunction with the Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices Exhibition. The exhibition is on display at the Art Gallery of Western Australia from 10 October 2015 - 31 January 2016 and is presented in collaboration with the Art Gallery of South Australia.

This lecture was the first in a series of three and was followed by:

AGWA

 21 October 2015