SINGAPORE.- Singapore Art Museum
s new contemporary art wing, 8Q sam presents At Home Abroad, the second major installation of Singapore contemporary art after its inauguration last year. At Home Abroad focuses on the mobile nature of contemporary art practices today and features homegrown artists whose art practice spans across international realms.
Works on display in At Home Abroad would have been in one way or another connected with international platforms some were commissioned specifically for a show abroad while others were developed during artist residencies and then exhibited to foreign audiences. Often, Singapore audiences may not be aware of these works nor have they seen them, hence At Home Abroad presents this rare opportunity to bring these works home. Some of the works are therefore shown for the first time in Singapore while others are reconfigured for their presentation in the exhibition. The 'home-coming' of these artworks adds a new dimension to local art discourse, in particular on the migratory nature of contemporary art practice. At Home Abroad will present works Jason Lim, Ming Wong, Sookoon Ang, Zulkifle Mahmod and Choy Ka Fai / Theatreworks (Singapore).
The exhibitions website (www.aha-blog.sg
) will document how the various artworks have been received, both at home and abroad. The exhibition showcases a variety of approaches and new media that the new generation of contemporary Singaporean artists engage in. The site also offers a blogging component that allows visitors and the general public to engage in a lively discussion on the works featured at the exhibition, pose questions they have to the exhibition curators, or simply to share their thoughts on contemporary art and what it means to them.
8Q sam is envisioned to be a venue for contemplation, stimulation, and discussion about contemporary art and culture and serves as a forum for discussion of these issues. By adding an online component to the exhibition, the museum hopes to engage a much wider audience on the international nature of contemporary art as well as the art practices of a generation of young Singapore artists who have been invited to participate in projects overseas.
At Home Abroad ends on 26 July 2009.
About the artists and their works:
Last Drop, 2005 onwards
Presented in Japan, Germany, Singapore, England, Malaysia, Chile, China, Spain, Italy, France, Canada and Thailand
For Jason Lim, performance art is cumulative, in that each prior performance informs the next. The work he will present at 8Q sam has a long lineage, dating back to its first performance in 2005 at the Nippon International Performance Art Festival (NIPAF) in Japan. Since then, it has traveled to various venues across the globe, and will come home to Singapore where a live performance will be presented at the exhibition opening of At Home Abroad.
Jason Lim relies on a few, constant elements for all his performances of Last Drop glass tumblers, and water. What distinguishes each performance from the next is its venue; for the artist, setting informs content and the particular energies of each place affects the configuration of elements and of course the mental and physical processes of the performing body. With these raw materials, the artist weaves rhythm, percussion and tension. Like the title of the work, Jasons performances are fluid and organic in their response to each sites specificity, never pre-rehearsed nor predictable.
Angst Essen / Eat Fear, 2008
Exhibited at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Germany, 2008
Angst Essen (translated as Eat Fear) is a continuation of Ming Wongs preoccupation and fascination with world cinema, and issues of identity and alterity. Born out of his residency at the Kunstelerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Angst Essen is a re-working of German director Rainer Fassbinders much-feted film, Angst Essen Seele auf (Fear Eats The Soul), 1974, which narrates the relationship between a German cleaning woman and her Moroccan lover, and the social prejudice they encounter.
In his work, Ming re-enacts key scenes from the original movie, and plays all of the roles himself. The effect is disorienting, especially when Ming speaks his lines in halting German. Occasionally the film is uncanny, when digital montages allow for Mings self-multiplication. The actor in drag may prove entertaining, but the film is also marked by a certain fragility and pathos, particularly in the light of the consideration that Ming produced this work during a period of heightened xenophobia in Germany. For all the cultural homogeneity that globalisation likes to lay claim to, Mings body of works suggests that various inextricable tensions still exist for individuals wanting to come to terms with foreign languages, cultures and social mores, and that identity is more tenuous than ever.
White Green, 2006
Exhibited at Longing Balloons Are Floating Around The World, Berlin (Germany) and Mushroom Arts, New York (USA)
Sookoon Ang is an example of a Singapore artist who has spent the majority of her time living and developing her work abroad, and who has rarely exhibited in her home country. She pursued her studies in New York, and was subsequently invited to artist residencies in Shanghai and Amsterdam. Her work White Green is similarly nomadic in nature: it comprises two ceramic-tiled TV monitor boxes, on which a video capturing everyday moments in a Shanghai park play. It has been installed on a gallery floor on top of a billowing piece of canvas in Berlin, and in New York, has taken on yet another incarnation by being installed atop a patch of grass. The design of the TV boxes was inspired by the television sets in Singapore community centres; the videos that they house were taken during the artists time spent in Shanghai.
Quite fittingly, this work first showed at the Green Pavilion in Berlin as part of the exhibition-in-progress Longing Balloons Are Floating Around The World. The venue was a temporary building comprising two mobile office containers surrounded by a wooden structure; the exhibition format itself is designed to be in a state of continuous change. Its title is also evocative of a certain nomadic and dream-like trajectory tinged with a sense of longing or pathos that characterizes much of Sookoons works. Seeking to address both the physical and metaphysical realms in her art, Sookoons work often takes on a surrealistic quality. White Green will be installed at 8Q sam in a new incarnation from its predecessors, giving rise to a whole new set of resonances with a new public.
False Securities, 2005 onwards
Presented in Singapore, Ogaki Biennale (Japan), and Shanghai (China)
Zulkifle Mahmods art seeks to create an all-enveloping environment, in this case a soundscape, into which the participant can immerse himself or herself completely in the experiential art of listening. False Securities is a collection of sounds recorded with binaural headphones during the artists flaneur-like meandering through various neighbourhoods and cities. This technology, which makes use of microphones placed in the ears, reproduces accurately the effect of hearing a sound in person. Several conceptual artists work with found objects; in the same vein, sound artist Zulkifle Mahmod works with his found objects in the form of his field recordings. These recorded sounds of the artists environment are then interjected with electronically processed sounds to create soundscapes at once familiar yet unfamiliar; soothing yet startling.
For his installation at 8Q sam, Zulkifle will present soundscapes gleaned from the streets of Little India, Chinatown and other busy or urban thoroughfares in Singapore, together with recordings from various performance venues in Ogaki, Japan.
Choy Ka Fai / Theatreworks (Singapore)
Rectangular Dreams, 2008
Exhibited at Spotlight Singapore, Moscow, 2008
Choy Ka Fais work takes its title from the rectangular layout and floor plans of its subject matter. The ubiquitous HDB (Housing Development Board) flats public housing for the majority of Singaporeans - are iconic markers in Singapores cityscape as well as in its history of nation-building. These concrete dwellings are laden with their own socio-political histories and resonances, which have been amply explored in various media and artforms.
In creating this work, commissioned by The Arts House to be presented at Spotlight Singapore, a showcase of Singapore culture in Russia, Choy Ka Fai has opted for what he terms a pseudo-documentary approach, tracing the history of HDB flats and imbuing their prosaic, uniform facades and spaces - which many have come to take for granted - with a visual poetics. At the same time, the artist raises questions about the aspirational declarations made by the city-states urban planners with regards to the ways in which the HDB would shape lives for the better.