Annie Jael Kwan is an independent curator and researcher based in London, and who works between Europe and Asia. As an experienced producer and curator, she has delivered numerous art projects in the UK and internationally since 2005, working with major arts and cultural institutions including the South Bank Centre, Geffrye Museum, Barbican Centre, Manchester Art Gallery, and the Live Art Development Agency.
Selected early projects include the multidisciplinary SEA ArtsFest in 2013/2014, leading on curating its visual arts programme and SEA ArtsFilm, its screening programme of feature-length and short moving image works. In 2015, she also co-curated the exhibition, 50 Years of Theatre Memories for irememberSG, as part of Singapore’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, the exhibitions EX PARTE connecting British and Singaporean artists for the Singapore Tourism Board, and London Calling for the British High Commission for the delegation of the British Prime Minister to Singapore.
As a curator and researcher, she is able to forge her own platforms to support her interests. She founded the curatorial partnership, Something Human, in 2012, to focus on the critical ideas surrounding movement across borders. Something Human has delivered projects in the UK, Rome, Venice, Belgrade, Skopje, Lisbon and in Singapore. As co-director of Something Human, she has co-curated Something Human at the Terminal (2013), the travelling exhibition MOVE W I T H (OUT) 2013-2016, From East to the Barbican (2015), CCLAP (Cross-Cultural Live Art Project 2014-2016) and Krísis in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, Bonington Gallery, and Nottingham Contemporary.
In 2016, she completed a self-initiated curatorial research residency with Java Arts in Cambodia, with the support of the Artists International Development Fund (British Council/Arts Council England) and the National Arts Council Singapore. This generated the collection of interviews and digital materials that would form a significant part of the pioneering Southeast Asia Performance Collection (SAPC), with over 27000 digital items that represent 50 artists from the region.
The SAPC was launched at the Live Art Development Agency in London during Something Human’s 2017 M.A.P. (Movement x Archive x Performance) project. M.A.P. extended across multiple sites with a programme of live performance in collaboration with Diaspora Pavilion and the International Curators Forum in Venice, an artist residency with artist Sung Tieu exploring Vietnamese diaspora in Deptford, and a symposium of performances and presentations that marked the inauguration of the landmark Southeast Asia Performance Collection in London.
She also conceived and drove forward the launch of SEA Currents, a new collaborative platform for Southeast Asian arts in London which has taken place in 2017 and 2019. SEA Currents works with international artists, curators and filmmakers to present the latest discussions and practices from Southeast Asia.
In 2018 she founded and co-leads Asia-Art-Activism (AAA) an interdisciplinary and intergenerational network of artists, curators and academics investigating ‘Asia’, ‘art’ and ‘activism’ in the UK – currently in residence at Raven Row till November 2020. Since 2018, she has co-led AAA’s programme of sharing sessions, mini residencies, research workshops, talks, screenings, radio show and other live events.
As an independent curator, in 2018, she curated the exhibition and public programme, UnAuthorised Medium, which featured 12 artists working with ‘alternative archives’ in relation to Southeast Asia, including Ho Rui An, Vandy Rattana, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Boedi Widjaja and Sung Tieu. In 2019, she co-curated the Archive-in-Residence Southeast Asia Performance Collection archive exhibition, and consulted on the Pathways of Performativity conference exploring performance in Southeast Asia at Haus der Kunst, Munich.
She was selected for the International Curators Forum’s curatorial programme, “Beyond the Frame” (2016-2018); and in 2017, for Outset and Arts Council England’s development programme for emerging curators. For the latter, she curated the colloquium “Curating Radical Futures” which took place at the Tate Modern. In 2019 she was awarded Live Art UK’s Diverse Actions Leadership Award.
She contributes to Art Asia Pacific, ArtReview Asia and is the guest co-editor for the Southeast of Now journal issue on “Reframing the Archive”. She holds a BA Hons. in Drama and Theatre Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a MA (Distinction) in History of Art, SOAS, University of London. She currently teaches at Central St Martin’s, University of the Arts, London.