What happens when 16 contemporary artists are let loose in a building that is about to be bulldozed?
I am pleased to announce I will be exhibiting in Displacements, a group exhibition this June. The theme of ‘Displacements’, in this Singaporean context, has a lot to with the fast paced change in this South East Asian city which leaves us windswept, joyous, nostalgic or confused: Culture evolves like an organic being, heritage can slip into the background or be pulled through to the fore, traditions can become irrelevant or simply evaporate in a contemporary society, and a wave of nostalgia has overwhelmed many.
To conceptualise the exhibition, the artists are privileged to be working with 3 top curators who are acting as mentors to the process in this artist-led exhibition: Jason Wee of Grey Projects, Joleen Loh of ICAS, and Kamiliah Badhar of Galerie Steph. What sets this show apart is the unique opportunity for artists to work in an unconventional ‘gallery’ space: A 77 year-old family home which will soon make way for urban renewal, due to be removed at the end of June.
Detecting faint scents in the pantry, or tracing marks along the walls, it is a shame to think of the 77 years of family history woven into this house, but it is exciting to think of the future – for the family and for the space, or even metaphorically.
So how do I fit in here? I am relatively new to Singapore, even though I have always loved Asia and have Asian blood in my veins, it is my first time living in South East Asia, having been brought up and educated in England. And this, it seems, was the curatorial interest in me. I am the other side of the coin – I have displaced myself from London to Singapore, I am part of the new and the cultural changes in Singapore. I have sought out a new context: I left behind many memories and connections, but I certainly have stories to tell about the benefits of displacement and enforcing big changes on your life.
Having lived in both London and Singapore, I have learned what makes a city exciting. What moves it forward, challenges it to evolve, adapt, broaden, become more unique? It is the notion of change, moving forward, embracing the new. But there is always the other side: The more a place changes and evolves, the further away it becomes from its roots and heritage. This is the dichotomy of any city that wants to exist in modern time and not stand still. It seems impossible to have both, yet as humans we long for this – we don’t want to let go of what is precious to us, our pasts, families and roots. With Singapore in particular, the history of the city and the country is short (relative to London for example), yet the amount of change is the same, just squeezed into a much shorter period. This means that letting go of these roots is even harder, when the heritage is not so far removed from the present.
The pace and process of cultural evolution is complex, and too much to express through one artwork. My focus will be on simply making a work which shows change & movement – of individuals, of thoughts, of feelings, of time, of opinions, of connections. Through this, I hope to sculpturally make subtle references to the migration, merging and displacement of people, cultures, traditions, and nature. How do individuals fit into groups? How do we change and migrate? How does language change, evolve and reform? I’ll be updating you on my progress with this new installation, so please check back for updates (or click ‘follow’ at the top of this blog).
Displacements is an exhibition which asks the whole community to get involved through adding their own memories and words, to which the artists will respond. There wil be 5 rooms and 16 professional artists, including a community room which opens up for events throughout June. There is also a room reserved for works by visual arts students in the surrounding art schools, SOTA, LaSalle, and NAFA, to give young voices the opportunity to shape the present cultural identity of the area too.
2nd to 23rd June 2013 // 13 Wilkie Terrace // Singapore // www.13wilkieterrace.com/
Artistry cafe and gallery came onboard early as an Event Partner for DISPLACEMENTS. They will be programming a series of weekend evening events.
Artists: Yen Phang, Kanchana Gupta, Michelle Lim, Calvin Pang, Nicola Anthony, Mark Wong, Elizabeth Lim, Kenneth Lee, Matthew G Johnson, Celine Lim, Daryl Goh