The National Gallery of Singapore’s second international exhibition is organised in association with Tate Britain and features artwork ranging from the 16th century to the present day. From maps and flags to paintings, sculpture and artefacts, this exhibition reveals both the British Empire’s influence upon the production of art, the ramifications of its dominion over other cultures and their histories, and through works by contemporary artists, the subject of ownership and authorship is critically explored.
Vietnamese-born Danish artist Danh Vo’s work often takes the form of installations which combine the wider historical experiences of Vietnam in the 20th century with more personal accounts on what it means to belong through documents, photos and appropriations of works by other artists. Here, Vo presents a new series of sculptures for the inauguration of the Ng Teng Fong roof garden commission, exploring issues of cross-cultural identity and the definition of cultural values.
It’s the last week of Singapore Biennale 2016, so if you’re planning on catching it before it finishes, head over to Singapore Art Museum to begin your ‘journey of discovery’ through the nine zones of Atlas of Mirrors. Featuring site-specific installations and specially commissioned works by more than 60 artists, this edition of the Biennale is all about navigation and cartography, imagined lands, entwined Southeast Asian narratives, and lots and lots of mirrors.
Also closing this week is The Bizarre Honour, an exhibition of the eponymous (and fictional) natural history society which showcases documents, artefacts, curiosities and artworks crammed into a house in an unassuming suburban neighbourhood. The artist/s’ (who-shall-not-be-named) – or society’s – collection comes with a dossier, which acts as a guide to help visitors explore the oddities. Only once you’re through the doors, it’s up to you to decide which of these are real and which are fantastical.
In Burmese artist Htien Lin’s first solo show in Singapore you’ll find paintings, films, sculpture and installations that deal with the weighty subject of his personal life growing up in Myanmar where he later became a revolutionary soldier and served seven years as a political prisoner for his involvement with the rebel group All Burma Students’ Democratic Front. Here, his work is suffused with painful personal and national histories, but also seeks to reflect the slow recovery of his country.
If you can’t get enough of that favourite Asian pastime of plucking the scraggly ends off bean sprouts and making them presentable on the table, then sign up for Amanda Heng’s workshop on 25 February where she’ll be recreating Let’s Chat, a 1996 performance where participants removed the ends of bean sprouts, made them into paper, and chatted for a while. This is part of her solo exhibition at STPI where another collaborative project is on display; 12 participants used treasured objects as starting points for We Are The World - These Are Our Stories, a series of prints and paper art ‘woven by the pathos of nostalgia into a tapestry of shared human experience.’
Closing this weekend is Chun Kai Qun’s Solid Prayers, an exhibition exploring the biographies of objects – that is, the identities that are projected onto the things people own and the traces of human existence that they are imbued with. Preoccupations of a spiritual afterlife and the hopes of inhabiting something other than his own mortal body, have led Chun to ‘remake his world’ through the art objects on display.
Natural forests in Singapore, communities in Kerala, a village in South Korea bordered with a US military base… These are some of the places that the artists on show here have kept returning to over the years, for sometimes intimate, sometimes ineffable reasons, striving to capture their identity through videos and photographs. Featuring work by Chua Chye Teck, Noh Suntag, Anup Mathew Thomas and Tomoko Yoneda, the show explores the personal and political dimension of the representation of place, and how repetition, going back over time, shapes our representation of it. A good occasion to head back to the ICA if you haven’t been in a while.
Through an arresting mix of historical artefacts and works by artist Kumari Nahappan, K.Rajagopal and Navin Rawanchaikul, Once Upon a Time in Little India proposes to look at the history and present of Singapore’s Indian enclave, and opening up its lens to similar diasporic settlements internationally.
Singapore, ‘city of Lions’: but what about the crocodiles? Estuarine crocodiles, some of the largest reptiles in the world, have reappeared off the shores of the city-state over the past decade after being hunted down almost completely. In NUS’s ‘prep-room’ dedicated to ongoing research display, conservator Kate Pocklington and artist Lucy Davis present their findings on trying to uncover the untold history of the reptile and its ambivalent relationship with the Straits. Davis’s presentation revisits previous research presented under her ongoing, longterm umbrella venture Migrant Ecologies Project, studying movements and migrations of ‘naturecultures’ in art and life in Southeast Asia.
17 February 2017