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The Australian National University

New Asian art publics

A Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) project funded by the Australia Research Council (ARC), 2017-2020

Dr Michelle Antoinette
Centre for Art History and Art Theory
The Australian National University

Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan In-flight (Project: Another Country) 2010. Photo: courtesy of the artists.

The project

Asian Art Publics: Understanding New Art and Museum Participation in Asia

ARC Grant No: DE170100455

Asia’s arts and culture sectors have been radically transformed in recent decades with a huge proliferation of public and private galleries, museums, art spaces, and other cultural institutions, new world-leading art fairs and other commercial initiatives, and a growing number of major Asia-based art exhibitions and collections. Attendant with these developments are new forms of public participation in Asian art and cultural institution projects. An increasing number of Asian artists and cultural institutions have been interested to engage publics as active participants in their art-focused projects, regarding public participation as a constitutive element of the art-making process and a new means of generating public dialogue.

  • What impact have recent arts and cultural developments in Asia had in shaping new Asian publics for art?
  • Who are the new publics for Asian art? Who are the new publics for art in Asia?
  • How and why are Asian publics participating in new art initiatives and shaping new public cultures for Asia?
  • How and why are artists and cultural institutions encouraging new public participation in art projects?

These are some of the central questions underpinning this research project, in which I seek to better understand the current role of art in shaping the new kinds of public participation, cultural belonging and creativity in Asia. Central to my research are art-focused projects by contemporary Asian artists and Asian cultural institutions (museums, art galleries, and other art/cultural spaces) – at key sites in East and Southeast Asia – which invite public participation to help realise art projects.

Roslisham Ismail a.k.a. Ise, Nasi Gunung (Mountain Rice); Langkasuka
Cookbook Project, 2012. Photo by Magnus Caleb. Courtesy of the artist.

With its emphasis on the processes of art-making and the social dimensions of art, ‘participatory’ art projects often contribute to new ways of thinking about both art and society: they often help to shed light on new contemporary Asian art practices and give visibility to histories of Asian art; at the same time, they also often help shape new public communities for art, prompt new ideas about and platforms for public participation in Asian society, and help to stimulate dialogue on issues of present-day social, political and ethical significance.  

My research hopes to shed light on these new kinds of creative practice and the new kinds of aesthetic and social issues they emphasise, as a means of better understanding current topics of importance to Asian societies and the significance of art in this.

My project has received specific funding from the Australian Research Council (Grant No: DE170100455). See the ARC website for further information:

Lee Mingwei. The Mending Project, 2009 / 2014, < br /> (installation view), Lee Mingwei and His Relations, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2014. Photo: Yoshitsugu Fuminari. Photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; and by permission of the artist.

The researcher

My name is Dr Michelle Antoinette. I am an academic researcher of modern and contemporary Asian art and currently an ARC DECRA Fellow based at the Centre for Art History & Art Theory at the Australian National University.

My current ARC DECRA research project focusing on contemporary Asian art and cultural institutions (2017-2020) is supported by a competitively-won research grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC) (Grant No: DE170100455). My ARC DECRA project investigates new public participation in Asian art and museums, with a focus on projects stemming from East and Southeast Asian locales.

I was an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow at ANU from 2010–13, researching the growth of regional and international networks of contemporary Asian art and museums (DP1096041).

I have been Convenor and Lecturer at ANU for courses on Asian and Pacific art and museums.

My previous and ongoing research has a focus on the contemporary art histories of Southeast Asia on which I have published widely.

I am author of Reworlding Art History: Encounters with Contemporary Southeast Asian Art after 1990 (Brill/Rodopi, 2015) and co-editor, with Caroline Turner, of Contemporary Asian Art and Exhibitions: Connectivities and World-making (ANU Press, 2014).

Contact Information

If you wish to contact me about this project please get in touch via email:

Researcher Publications

For a list of my previous publications on Asian art see my researcher profile at the ANU website.

You can also find out more about my academic profile and publications via the following links:



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