Seminar: The Import of Art: Exhibiting Singapore’s National Development through MoMA’s Visionary Architecture


Arts in Southeast Asia Seminar Series


About the Seminar

This seminar looks at how the nation-building process can be visually framed by foreign aesthetics. It looks specifically at the MoMA International Program which was established in 1952 in order to send American exhibitions around the world. As an inherently American nationalist project, the International Program sent a total of five different exhibitions to Southeast Asia from 1957 to 1984. These exhibitions Recent American Prints in Colour, the Family of Man, Classic American Film, The Photographers Eye and Visionary Architecture, were hosted by cultural institutions and grassroots communities.

I will focus on one exhibition, Visionary Architecture, which was presented alongside the exhibition Housing in Singapore in 1963. This exhibition came under the auspices of the National Library Board Singapore and was co-sponsored by the Housing & Development Board. With this exhibition I will examine how the International Program exhibitions were included in ‘local’ projects of nation-building. I will interrogate the impulse to ‘exhibit’ in projects of nation-building and address the empowered positions of local agents to mediate the international Cold War cultural landscape.

About the Speaker

Kathleen Ditzig is a researcher, as well as Assistant Curator and Manager in Curatorial and Programmes at the National Museum of Singapore. Her current research interests include the relationship between art, globalism, and power. Her art historical research addresses the relationship of Cold War globalism and the emergence of Southeast Asia as a cultural region. She received a scholarship from NHB and Curatorial Fellowship from the Centre of Curatorial Studies (CCS) to pursue her MA in Curatorial Studies from CCS, Bard College, which she received in 2015. She intends to pursue her PhD at NTU ADM from January 2018. She has published in academic journals such as Southeast of Now and Finance and Society and in art magazines such as Art Forum and Flash Art.


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 28 September 2017.


Sep 29 2017


10:00 am - 11:30 am


ISEAS Seminar Room 2