Melissa Carlson’s recent work examines the development of modern and contemporary art in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century under the postcolonial censorship regime in Myanmar. Using Myanmar as a case study, her research triangulates questions of censorship, artistic practices and national identity in the Indian Ocean–a region where borders, governments and economies remain in flux amid rapidly changing political landscapes.

In her work, she aims to highlight the ways in which artists devised unique creative strategies of subversion, resistance and subterfuge, both in the realm of form and representation and in terms of political participation and regional networks.

Her curatorial projects include Burma by Proxy: Art at the Dawn of Democracy, Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, Hong Kong (2015) and the co-curated exhibition Banned in Burma: Painting Under Censorship, Nock Art Foundation, Hong Kong (2014).
She has contributed to many publications, including Ambitious Alignments: New Art Histories of Southeast Asia (Power Publications and National Gallery of Singapore, 2018) and Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia (ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, 2016).
As a Fellow in the 2019-2020 Modern Art Histories of South and Southeast Asia (MAHASSA) project funded by the Getty Foundation, she gave a presentation on innovative forms of artist collectives and biennials as part of the public programming at the Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2020).

Carlson earned a Masters degree from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (2013) and is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley.
Born in the US, she currently lives and works in Hong Kong.
SAF participation:
March Meeting 2021​

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