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Archive for the ‘installation’ Category

I had heard there was an art scene in Singapore, but I had yet to run into it and hence, yet to believe it.

Afterall, Singapore is the country that jailed Samantha Lo, Sticker Lady. It wasn’t the arrest of Samantha Lo itself that surprised me, It was what I interpreted as a lack of understanding of her art form in the local community. I had heard people make statements that they were bewildered by her actions. Art? No, she’s just crazy, was the comment I heard.

I was relieved to know that I was wrong. There is more-than-just-relevant art in Singapore and it doesn’t take much scratching below the surface to find it. In fact, I saw it Friday night at the Gillman Barracks.

I was tempted to check out the series of art galleries when I heard one was housing Ai Wei Wei’s first solo exhibition in Southeast Asia. Husband and I went to his sunflower seeds exhibition at the Tate Modern  in January 2011 and I was curious to find out what else this famous Chinese contemporary artist and dissident had up his sleeve.

His piece at Michael Janssen gallery focused on the ongoing tainted milk formula problems in his home country. I could feel his disappointment, the frustration associated with wanting your country to be more, to be better than it is. I think we all have those moments, but compound that with 81 days spent in jail held by your own government without any official charges being filed and you either come out with your soul crushed or more vigor than ever.

What I found profoundly different from his sunflower seed installation at Tate Modern was how accessible his work felt in Singapore. The sunflower seeds at the Tate were designed to be interactive, but ultimately had to be placed off limits due to safety issues. The dust created from walking on the seeds was creating a health hazard. But here were the milk canisters. Right there. I could have kicked them if I wanted to. (I didn’t)

Ai Wei Wei's Baby Formula at the Michael Janssen gallery

Ai Wei Wei’s Baby Formula at the Michael Janssen gallery

We moved on to check out some of the other galleries. As a part of the Gillman Barracks first anniversary, the galleries were open late. We weren’t sure which one to check out next, so we followed the path of free wine.

Andy sips wine and contemplates art at the Gillman Barrack galleries

Andy sips wine and contemplates art at the Gillman Barrack galleries

More

Anthropos: Navigating Human Depth in Thai and Singapore Contemporary Art Curated by Loredana Pazzini-Paraccian

Anthropos at Sundaram Tagore Gallery Singapore

The studios began to close, but we were lucky to stumble upon a small street party where up and coming Singaporean musician Charlie Lim was performing solo.

Charlie Lim at the Gillman Barrack's 1st anniversary party

Charlie Lim at the Gillman Barrack’s 1st anniversary party

Gillman Barracks street party

Gillman Barracks street party

We contemplated food at the Naked Finn, but the lines encouraged us to go elsewhere. The food looked fantastic, so it will be something to look forward to on our next visit.

Ai Wei Wei’s exhibit continues until October 6, 2013 at the Micheal Janssen Gallery,

address: 9 Lock Road, #02-21, Singapore 108937

opening hours:
Tue to Sat 12pm-7pm

Sun 12pm-6pm
Closed on Mondays & Public holidays

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With all the buzz surrounding Tracey Emin’s retrospective at the Hayward, a few friends and I decided to check it out. The afternoon promised art and a chance to hang out on the Southbank.

I must admit that before this retrospective I had never heard of Emin. Her identity and art was billed through the media with a sense of British pride. Local girl done good. Why not check it out and gain some insight?

Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995. Picture not mine.

After hearing about Emin’s infamous tent piece, I was prepared for a bit of shock art. What I got was a bit more complex. The shock of used tampons displayed as art, visual depictions of masturbation and in depth details of her abortion were enough for a reaction, but all of this was mixed in with a touch of softness. The hard neon sign messages were delivered in a soft pink. Crude confessions and tragedies were sewn intricately into blankets or other “women’s work.” Loving stories of her family were interwoven into her pieces. These were nice reprieves in the midst of anguish.

Picture not mine.

My thoughts jumped from labeling Emin a self-destructive angry narcissist with boring blankets to self-reflection on why I feel that way. What’s wrong with someone describing the female experience with all its emotional context? Why must we label her with PMS or insanity? Don’t we all feel this way sometimes? Out of control of our own bodies, the weight of feminine expectations, the way men can look at us and never really see us? Worst of all, the cultural assumption that it is our own issue when we feel invisible.

This article is well on target.

Midway through the exhibition Natalie leans over to me and whispers “Uh, glad I didn’t bring a first date here.” That about sums it up.

On the second floor there is a video. Emin describes dancing in her seaside industrial hometown to the sounds of verbal abuse with sexual context from the local male population.  She’s extremely upset as she runs to the coast. She confesses she doesn’t belong in this town. Moments later her voice comes through. “This dance is for you,” she says. An older, wiser Tracey is shown on the screen dancing happily. She is clearly dancing for herself. She’s smiling and carefree. I feel a sense that she has found some happiness and I am grateful to witness it.

Tracey Emin: Love is What You Want is at the Hayward on the Southbank until Monday 29 August 2011. Tickets are £12. Concessions are available.

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Husband (did I mention Boyfriend has been upgraded?) wanted to see Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seed exhibit at the Tate Modern. This was an easy sell for me. I am a sucker for modern art museums.

Unilever has commissioned Ai Weiwei’s brainchild: 100 million hand crafted porcelain sunflower seeds displayed in the Turbine Hall. The colors of the concrete floor blend with the small porcelain seeds like a slight ripple in the floor’s texture continuity. As you approach you notice the individual pieces making up the whole until you eventually realize the small tiny pieces are sunflower seeds. At this point you want to pick one up and bite one, but the sunflower seeds are not real and the exhibit has been deemed non interactive for safety reasons. The dust from the porcelain is easily kicked up and can enter the lungs.

Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern

A fifteen minute video shows how these pieces were handcrafted in Jingdezhen, China. You get a glimpse into the lives of the 1600 people and two and a half years that the manufacturing took place. The people are grateful for the work but I’m curious to whether they find value in the project beyond a paycheck.

This reminds me of a story someone once told me about explaining the end use of  Mardi Gras beads to Chinese factory workers. “So… you toss this at someone out of a slow moving vehicle and girls will take their tops off?”

And perhaps that’s the point – to make me consider the “Made in China” label. Or maybe it’s a statement on how all these small pieces can make up a whole. How collectively we become something we could never be as an individual. The political weaves it’s way in and out of the display. There is mention of how the sunflower seed was once a symbol of goodwill between neighbors but was adopted and altered into kitsch and propaganda by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution.

Seems like a lot to say all at once.

“Did I get it all?” I asked Husband. He is standing on the bridge above the sunflower seeds looking down with awe that I haven’t seemed to muster.

Maybe I’m not suppose to be so worried about whether or not I got it right.

The exhibit is free and runs until May 2, 2011

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