As an exhibiting artist and part of the organizing team for the group exhibition called DR/OP BEYOND BOUNDARIES, Boo Sze Yang shares, in this video, how the exhibition came about. In addition, he reveals to intersection.sg why he is uncomfortable with assuming the curator’s role, preferring instead, a system that is more unstructured and organic.
On show tomorrow, from 17 to 27 August 2017, Artists Alliance SG presents an exhibition titled DR/OP Beyond Boundaries at the Goodman Arts Centre. Supported by the National Arts Council, the exhibition showcases a diverse range of artworks by 24 artists and 2 artists collectives from Great Britain, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States of America.
With the use of a variety of mediums, the artworks are inspired by the response of the artists to the global environment that is culturally diverse and multifaceted.
Come by the exhibition for a showcase that aims to make the viewers question and challenge traditional notions of art, that speak to the heart of our cosmopolitan city.
Singaporean artist Jeremy Sharma has recently opened a solo exhibition, Spectrum Version 2.2, at the Singapore branch of Sullvan+Strumpf in Gillman Barracks. We caught up with him on his show, his current practice and his upcoming plans.
You’ve recently been represented by Sullivan+Strumpf. Since then you have been involved in a group show and have now opened a solo exhibition in the Singapore space. How is it like working with a gallery team that has pledged to support your practice completely and regularly? Has the Australian facet been a factor?
I am delighted to be working with Sullivan+Strumpf. They feel more like an international gallery rather than an Australian one. I think they are looking very much to Asia and SEA in the context of the global. I am looking forward to having connections and shows with them. They are very supportive and open to my experimentations even though my works are not the easiest and most commercial works around. They are really challenging. But the gallery sees the potential and relevance of my practice. This is forward thinking on their part and I am looking forward to a fruitful partnership.
In 2015 we sat down with you to ask about your foam sculptures. How does that series relate to the one currently at Sullivan+Strumpf?
They are vastly different but what they have in common is that they involve the use of data and technology and question the unstable status of what an art object is.
The light boxes that you use in Spectrum Version 2.2 have a certain depth, comes in a variety of colours and are unevenly lit across the surface. The light also shifts across time. Would you be able to speak more about them as well as the motif of the square?
Yes, the light boxes are based on a grid and the modular system. It is my homage to modern art but also my response to the death knell of the modern, if you read between the narratives and presentation. It marks the shift in my own practice and I’m happy to start with Sullivan+Strumpf.
When we think about Malevich’s square, the declaration of the death of painting (and in your case the modern), it is very seductive to fall into the cliché of looking at your work through the history of painting. What do you think of the opinion that Spectrum Version 2.2 can be seen a show about painting?
I think it should not be thought of as a painting show. I think it is because people know me as a painter, and my work years ago were more of the painterly variety. But I think it is the wrong methodology to look at my practice. You will know it as I progress along.
However, there are many things I have learnt from painting. It is like if a painter decided to make films, they will not be the same as someone who merely went for a script-writing course.
Why “Version 2.2”?
I see it as an operating system. Life has become an operating system where we are constantly told to upgrade ourselves. It also links to the idea of interfaces.
Data and big data has been a growing concern to the contemporary person. We wonder how much our lives are controlled by and revealed to institutions, companies and government bodies when we use our phones, the Internet and sync our data to the cloud. What do you think about data and how do you use it in your work? Would you consider yourself a new media artist?
Data is both value and information now that can be monetised. It is both private and public. It is the most abstract form of representation in life. It is a translation of reality and it really is limitless. But data needs power and electricity to flow. They are also connectors between beings and machines. I understand data differently from how my father or son understands data. It is this invisible force that is shaping everything from politics to memory to architecture to medicine and to social relations. We cannot escape it. If you unplug yourself you will be like a fish in water (to quote Theodor Adorno), or like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix.
Data is a two-edged sword. My friend says when they invented the car, people laughed and said your car cannot go where my horse can and where do you stop to refuel? Now a supercar can run at 1000 horsepower. That is a thousand of your laughing horses but that’s how technology has and continues to accelerate. You cannot stop the wheel from turning. Technology transforms nature and societies. There are objects made for data.
Look, my point is I am no new media or data artist, I hate that academic term. I’m just using what is already out there. It is out there, so use it. Data is material and content for me. I usually start with questions and ideas, not data.
What is coming up for you after this show?
Some extensions of what I am currently doing; I am working towards an installation, a site-specific work in a tunnel and video works for separate shows next year. I would like to work a little more with objects, sound and the human voice.
Spectrum Version 2.2 runs from 29 July to 20 August.
5 Lock Road #01-06
+65 6871 8753
Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11am – 7pm
Sundays, 11am – 6pm
Or by appointment
It is often said that a mother’s love knows best. True to its meaning, the children of late wildlife photographer Silvana Sutanto is returning the favor to preserve her legacy by setting up the Silvana S Foundation.
Presenting a total of 15 of Silvana’s best works, WILD & FREE is a tribute to her passion for life. Priced at $3,000 to $6,000, her works are for sale and proceeds for this foundation goes to Noah’s Ark Natural Animal Sanctuary.
Silvana had always felt compassion towards wild animals, especially those whose habitats are being threatened by humanity’s encroachment. Her works serve to raise awareness of their plight and bring us closer to nature.
Taken amidst rough terrain and harsh conditions in remote places, her works often depict the themes of love, family, and friendship among wild animals.
Silvana has left a legacy, not only with her family but also, through her works. We speak to Shaun Gozali on the Silvana S Foundation and Silvana’s personal journey of photographs taken over a span of nearly one and a half decades.
The physical setting here is practically an extension of our living room, so it feels more intimate and personal than a regular commercial gallery. With this space, we will organize exhibitions, talks and private events.
– Ning Chong, Founder, The Culture Story.
Not many art spaces can confidently say that they will change the art scene in Singapore. Most are more of the same (More art galleries! More art studios! More community spaces!) which are crucial for growing the small scene but merely an appetiser for those who are already lovers of art. The Culture Story, founded by father and daughter duo Ms. Ning Chong and Mr. Chong Huai Seng, might just be the main course. This is a space for those with more than just a passing fancy for art to come together and realise a community for a deeper understanding of art.
Mr. Chong started collecting in the ’80s, acquiring works from all over the world. After three decades, the substantial collection is now open for viewing by the public. Unlike museums, both public and private, it was love for each work and not museology that guides what is on show. Unlike private galleries, nothing is for sale as each work has already found a loving home: with the Chongs. And this is also most definitely not a storage space: the works are deliberately chosen for show.
Nonetheless, what is on the walls are still works of art, which superficially does not bring anything new to the table. Numerous spaces for private collections like the Chongs’ have already been established in Singapore. However, the highlight is not really the exhibitions per se (every art space has them) but what The Culture Story brings to the exhibition, namely, the social “living room” space. Ms. Ning relates a story of “local collectors in the old days… bring[ing] ink paintings and small canvases to each other’s homes, they drink tea and showcase their latest acquisition and invite their friends to discuss and comment.” The Culture Story can be seen as an attempt to resurrect this past with an important difference: this time, the living room is open to the public. It is a space for art and for art connoisseurs to gather. Anyone with an interest can come have tea, share their opinion on art and expect to hear the opinions of others.
Still, you won’t usually turn up at your acquaintance’s place unless they have a party. The founders of The Culture Story are aware of this and have planned a series of events to bridge the gap between the ‘tentatively interested’ to ‘definitely in love’ with art. These include talks with artists, art collectors and art professionals.
Don’t expect presentations of serious and heavy theoretical papers or highly technical discussions of specific sections of the art market. Instead, these talks are straightforward for now, aiming “to introduce and demystify the art market.” They had their first talk last Saturday, a conversation with Augusto “Gus” Albor, a well-respected and senior artist from The Philippines. Amid laughter, Gus and Ms. Chong revealed the chronological growth of Gus’s beautiful mane of hair in pictures, how life itself affects the work of the artist, the close relationships with collectors and most importantly, Gus’s talent with the flute (he really is quite talented). This was followed up by a long and informal session where everyone had a chance to speak to and get to know the person behind the amazing abstract works that were also on show in the space. The Chongs were also great hosts, flitting between conversations with old friends and new acquaintances. The general ambience was informal, the content elementary yet sophisticated, allowing everyone to head off into in-depth and intriguing conversations after the PowerPoint slide was over.
At the end of the day, of course, what The Culture Story is promoting is a Singaporean life compatible with art. When we come by to have tea, we imagine that this “living room” could also be our living room, a space made sweet and special by art.
If you wish to bring art home, your friends at The Culture Story could help. Beyond the community of existing collectors you can learn from, including the founders, The Culture Story also provides comprehensive support for a collector or collector-to-be. This includes 1. Sourcing, acquisition and de-accession 2. Collections management, namely framing, storage, installation, conservation and insurance needs 3. Artwork commission (e.g. family portraits, site-specific work) 4. Support for corporate art programs. Please do share the works you have acquired with your advisors, though. It is only fair to feed back in to the ongoing conversation of what and how to collect.
The current show, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, includes just 13 Asian artists represented in the Chongs’ collection. It is a sneak peek into decades of passion, promising of the exhibitions to come. The Chongs collect many more, including works by Sydney Harpley, Sergei Chepik, Cheong Soo Pieng and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, which would, hopefully, eventually be visible through quarterly exhibitions.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Anthony Chua, Augusto “Gus” Albor, Han Sai Por, Hong Sek Chern, Hsiao Chin, Iskandar Jalil, Leo Hee Tong, Jolly Koh, Liang Quan, Shi Jin Dian, Wong Keen, Yu Teng-Chuan, Zhuang Sheng Tao
Find out more about the show here.
The Culture Story
2 Leng Kee Road
#03-06 Thye Hong Centre
+65 6924 9742
Open by appointment.