Singapore Biennale 2006
Thursday, May 15, 2003
Invitation to a public symposium
Imaging Work: Representing Migrant Labour in Singapore
24 May, Saturday
Singapore History Museum Auditorium
Free Admission (Seats are available on a first-come-first-served
basis. Limited to the first 179 people only.)
The demand and supply of migrant labour has been and continues to be
a central dynamic of the modern global economy. Rapid growth in
connection with global trade and foreign capital has required the
import of labour in Singapore since the earliest days of the British
colony. Unskilled migrants populated Singapore and constituted the
This symposium brings together photographers, filmmakers, historians
and social scientists in an attempt to understand the processes of
telling stories of migrant workers in Singapore. 'Story-telling' is
used as a way of thinking about representation as the narrative
allows us to talk about beginnings as well as ends, and about how
what is left out, which is as important as what is included.
The particular emphasis of the symposium is on representations of
male workers from South Asia in Singapore; it aims to bring together
contemporary and historical perspectives as seen from inside and
Session One - Speakers (2pm - 3:30pm)
Lance Lee, Offstone Photographer
K.Rajagopal, independent filmmaker
Dr Shahidul Alam, founder, DRIK photo agency
Tea break - 30minutes
Session Two - Speakers( 4pm - 6:00pm)
Lim Cheng Tju, MA History, NUS
Nirmala Purushotam, independent scholar
James Warren, Asia Research Institute
Moderator: Lee Weng Choy, Artisitc Co-Director, The Substation Arts Centre
Presented and Organised by the Singapore History Museum, in
collaboration with Forum on Contemporary Art & Society (focas),
Singapore University Press and The Substation
For more information, please call 6 332 4075/63323558
Singapore History Museum, 30 Merchant Road #03-09/17 Riverside
Point(opposite Clark Quay) Singapore 058282
45 Armenian Street
tel (65) 6337 7535
fax (65) 6337 2729
Longest Batik Painting attempt for the Guiness Book of World Records
15th May 2003
Singapore Expo Hall 6A
Time: 11 am
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
The Aurora is a design entity specialising in on-air promos and show packaging. They do promos, motion graphics, compositing, print work, 3d animation, video art, broadcast design and videos. They can complement artists in new media works.
CINEPOLITANS: INHABITANTS OF A FILMIC CITY
AN EXHIBITION ON ART • FILM • THE CITY
22 Apr-18 May 2003
Cinepolitans: Inhabitants of a Filmic City brings into focus 3 powerful influences, catalysts and references in contemporary life – Art, Film and the City. This exhibition from 22 April to 18 May 2003 will be launched at one of the most unusual and challenging gallery spaces in Singapore: Jendela at the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.
The exhibition features 7 Singapore artists who have been making critical impressions with their probing art practices. Curated by Michael Lee Hong Hwee and Tang Ling Nah, who are noted for their artistic practices dealing with film and urban space respectively, the exhibition showcases various media, including contemporary drawing, painting, photography, video, and installation.
Examine the impact and influence of film in a new light at Cinepolitans: Inhabitants of a Filmic City through photographs by Chua Chye Teck; Han Kiang Siew’s paper and video installation; video images from a camera thrown off a building by Ho Tzu Nyen; a painting of a cinema’s interior by Hong Sek Chern; John Low’s installation of photographs, videoclips and soundbites, Royston Tan’s short film and Tang Ling Nah’s charcoal drawings.
Jendela, Esplanade Mall Level 2
Tue – Fri: 11am to 8.30pm, Sat – Sun: 10am to 8.30pm, Closed on Mon
The exhibition opens Tue 22 Apr 2003, 6.30pm, and continues until Sun, 18 Apr 2003
Issued by The Esplanade Co Ltd.
For more information, please contact:
Patrick Keenan Vivian Koh
Communications Manager Communications Executive
The Esplanade Co Ltd The Esplanade Co Ltd
Tel 6828 8313 Tel 6828 8318
Email firstname.lastname@example.org Email email@example.com
All media extracts from the texts below should be credited to curator Michael Lee Hong Hwee:
‘Film and city are related in diverse ways, but neither cinema nor urban studies has paid warranted attention to their connections. Likewise, visual arts practice has not consistently or extensively considered the links between film and the city – particularly not in the context of the city-State of Singapore.
The melding of ‘cine’ (a prefix from ‘cinema’) and ‘politans’ (a suffix roughly translated as ‘citizens’) to yield the exhibition’s main title ‘Cinepolitans’ is a strategic move to open up grounds for visual artists to investigate the myriad plausible connections between cinematic and urban conditions. The premise of this exhibition is that although we are subjects of film and the city, in other words, we are cinepolitans in one way or another, we engage with the two subjects not merely, and even less necessarily, through film or urban studies, but possibly in numerous practical as well as artistic ways – visually, literarily, performatively or through a blend of methods. With film and city each having its own discourses, histories, theories and methodologies, their fusion offers an array of possible permutations for exploration.
Cinepolitans is the first art event ever to consider the links between film and city in the context of Singapore. It aims to suggest a space for differences between film and city to slip, and for analogies between them to arise. The title also refers to the pool of participating artists in the exhibition, showcasing their works derived from their particular aesthetic engagements with city and film – in other words, sharing their experiences of being inhabitants of a filmic city like Singapore….
The conception of ‘Cinepolitans’ generates a range of complex and valuable insights into both film and the city. A film and a city exist beyond the respective confines of the cinema and the urban environment. A filmic city occupies the imagination of every urban dweller, not just artists alone. It is hoped that this exhibition provides a trigger to explore further relationships between our physical surrounding and our favourite pastime within it.’
NOTES ON ARTISTS’ WORKS
All media extracts from the texts below should be credited to curator Michael Lee Hong Hwee:
‘Hong Sek Chern’s painting of a cinema’s interior space could be the most apparent manifestation of the filmic city. Conventionally, it is understood that the audience embodies the agency of ‘look’. Seated comfortably in an air-conditioned space, viewers watch a film projected on and reflected off the screen, and are entertained, perhaps also educated by it. What happens when the screen looks back at the audience? What does it see? Skeletal frameworks of empty seats make us wonder if this is a moment in-between screenings, post-catastrophe, or a representation of the screen’s penetrating x-ray vision.
While Hong avoids making explicit social commentary, whether on film or on city, preferring instead to let her viewers wonder, Tang Ling Nah is rather upfront with her critique of the cinematic and urban conditions. Tang’s series of noirscape drawings in this exhibition suggest narrative sequences embodied in both film and the city. Unlike watching a film in the movie theatre, where one has to sit through the screening from beginning till end, the participants of Tang’s filmic sequences are free to begin with any frame, do anything inside each, including running around and between them, according to their own whims and fancies.
The desire to escape the constraints of the urban environment is explored somewhat differently in Han Kiang Siew’s paper and video installation. The neat rows of paper figurines, enlarged many times from their original scale in architectural models, are positioned right across the floor in the middle of the gallery – forcing the viewer to walk through via a narrowly designated path. The effect is uncanny, creating an immediate sense of ambivalence in the viewers, somewhere between fascination with the oversized figurines (that paradoxically also seem like mechanised dwarfs with respect to the viewers), and horror at the possibility of having been shrunk in size. Contemplating the multiple screens of a washing machine perpetually at work, the viewer cannot help but ponder the condition of living in a city defined by compulsive cleanliness and order.
The subject of Ho Tzu Nyen’s installation piece offers yet another form of escape: suicide. For the artist, the act of suicide by jumping off one’s flat is the ultimate form of critique of the official configuration of urban space. Scanning their eyes across video images captured from a camera thrown off a HDB block but shown at different speeds, the viewers get to experience vicariously what it feels like to be a suicide case, a killer litter, even a holidaying bungee jumper.
The hero could be the saviour of the day in suicidal cases like this; he is the quintessential figure who appears at the scene when things get out of hand. He is also the film character whom Chua Chye Teck finds most intriguing. However, instead of depicting the film hero in or preparing for action, be it saving a damsel in distress or avenging injustices inflicted on his community, the artist has placed him alone in spartan environments. Through his particular brand of poetic photography, the artist explores the inner psychological worlds of the action hero beneath his muscular physique, mask and leotard outfit, asking if he might sometimes also feel lonely, fearful or vulnerable?
Emotional upheaval is the reaction of the protagonist of Royston Tan’s film, whose favourite yellow shirt has just been stolen. Tan’s Hitchcockian montage cuts and stitches up not only an eclectic collection of filmic vignettes but it is also precisely a city that the protagonist rummages through in search of his stolen good. Crossing over from filmmaking to fine art, Tan reflects not just a personal, if extremely violent, response to the retraction of material attachment, but more significantly the instinctual desire of human beings to connect, and to cope when they fail to.
From the loss of personal belonging to seemingly longing for lost monuments, John Low examines the notion of memory in the architectural context of Singapore. Gone are cinemas of the past, such as Odeon, the old Lido and Orchard, as well as the many open night theatres in the outskirts of the city, including the Jurong Drive-in. In their place are cineplexes with multiple screens equipped with state-of-the-art digital image and sound systems, and supported by department stores and entertainment enterprises for the whole family. With his installation comprising videoclips and soundbites, the artist attempts not so much to engage in nostalgia as to investigate the interplay of “light” and “dark” in the context of the modern city, teasing out particular spaces that remain forgotten and marginal in dominant discourse.’
All media extracts from the texts below should be credited to curator Michael Lee Hong Hwee:
Chua Chye Teck graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, majoring in sculpture. He is also trained professionally in photography. He has participated in numerous exhibitions, showcasing works in a diversity of media – sculptures, photographs, installations, performances, paintings and drawings. In 2002, he was selected to represent Singapore in Asian Comments at the City Centre of Copenhagen, Denmark. He also participated in Open 2000, the 3rd International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations in Italy. His work won The Best Design in the 1996 Parco Flower Sculpture Arrangement Competition.
Han Kiang Siew is currently pursuing his Master of Architecture in the National University of Singapore. He has been involved in many art exhibitions since 1999. He was the winner of several prominent design competitions. An example is the Haworth Asia Pacific Design Awards 1999. In 2002, his entry for the Pentagon Memorial Competition was selected for exhibition at the National Building Museum, Washington D.C. Most recently, he won the 1st prize (Student Section) of the Furniture Design Competition organised by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC).
Ho Tzu Nyen graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Distinction). He is a practising artist, filmmaker, writer and independent curator. He is also currently a part-time lecturer of Art History in the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and the LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts. He won several art awards and scholarships which include, in 1999, the first place in the Jacques Derrida Prize in Melbourne, and the top prize for the Abstract Category of the 20th UOB Painting of the Year in 2001. He is also the national winner of the Nokia Arts Awards 2001.
Hong Sek Chern holds a Master of Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London. She has been painting the interior and exterior spaces of local architecture using Chinese ink for seven years. Hong was the recipient of the Singapore Young Artist Award (Visual Arts) 2000, the prestigious President’s Young Talent Award 2001, and has won numerous top prizes and notable mentions in regional art competitions including the Philip Morris Asean Arts Awards and the UOB Painting of the Year. In 2002, she was Singapore’s representative in the 25th São Paulo Biennale, in Brazil.
John Low is currently pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy (Art) at the Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia. He is also a full-time lecturer at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. Low works with primarily installation and photography. He has participated in many international and local exhibitions, the most recent being 36 Ideas of Asia: Contemporary Southeast Asian Art at the Helikon Museum, in Hungary.
Royston Tan has been an active filmmaker even before his graduation from Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore, with a Diploma in Visual Communication. He has won over twenty international and local awards for his excellence in short filmmaking. He was named the ASEAN Best Director of the Year 2001, a first for a Singaporean filmmaker at the Malaysian Video Award. He is also the winner of the Singapore Young Artist Award (Film) 2002. His short film 15 bagged the 15th Singapore International Film Festival Grand Prize – Special Achievement Award 2002, while his recent documentary 48 on AIDS received a Silver Award at the New York Film and Television Award 2003. His debut feature, an extension of 15, premieres at the 16th Singapore International Film Festival 2003.
Tang Ling Nah has a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) with Distinction from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University. She works mainly with charcoal on paper, exploring local architectural spaces. Besides teaching part-time at LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, she has also coordinated several art exhibitions and participated in many exhibitions, including her first solo in 2002. She won The Della Butcher Award 2000 and received an Honourable Mention at the Philip Morris Singapore Art Awards 2001/2002. Two of her works were also highly commended at the 20th UOB Painting of the Year 2001.
Michael Lee Hong Hwee obtained his Master of Communication Studies from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He is currently the Acting Deputy Head of Fine Art Department in the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore, where he teaches art history and art theory. A multidisciplinary artist, Michael Lee has received several top prizes in international film competitions, including University Film and Video Association 1997, as well as commendations in local art competitions like the 20th UOB Painting of the Year 2001 and Vanda Miss Joaquim Sculpture Design 2001. A co-curator of Eye-dentifying Peranakan Cultures, an affiliate exhibition of Nokia Singapore Art 2001-2, he actively pursues his research interests in popular culture, gender studies and urbanism. His writings have appeared in journals such as Asian Cinema, magazines like Singapore Architect, vehicle: contemporary visual arts, ish: fragments from an urbanscape, and various art exhibition catalogues.
Tang Ling Nah has a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) with Distinction from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University. She is a part-time lecturer at LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, where she conducts the Foundation Drawing Workshop and Art History tutorials. Besides her own art practice, she has also coordinated several art exhibitions, including 10:10, an artists exchange project co-hosted by The Substation Ltd. and Plastique Kinetic Worms, Singapore, and Deriving Spaces, an affiliated project of Nokia Singapore Art 2001-2. In 2002, she managed her first solo exhibition, activated C.
intense, romantic paintings by Rossalyn Tan, Tamares Goh and Sia Joo Hiang
Friday 16th May 2003 7.30 pm
Utterly Art Exhibition Space
208 South Bridge Road 2nd Level, Singapore 058757
Tel: 6226 2605
Mon-Sat 11.30 am - 8 pm Sun 12 noon - 5.30 pm
The exhibition runs through to Sunday 25th May 2003.
Madder is a herbaceous climbing plant with yellowish flowers. The red dye obtained from the Madder plant is also called Madder. Rose Madder is the name of a colour used in oil painting. There is another colour named Madder Lake Brown, a rich, reddish brown. M A D. The word Madder is chosen for its meaning and intensity. For its colour, and also for the way it sounds. M A D D E R. And how the image of the word looks in print.
“For Baudelaire … it is clear that Romanticism is not a style, any more than it depends on a particular type of subject-matter: the essence of the matter lies in attitude - in a point of view and a way of feeling.”
- Michael Greenhalgh from the essay Romanticism in The New Romantics
And it is this way of feeling that is probably common in the three artists’ works, which can generally be described as personal responses to the environment. There is an attempt to go back to basics, such as nature, the smell of soil, birdsong, the sounds of wind.
Rossalyn’s paintings are mostly oil on found objects, such as plywood boards, tin containers, stainless steel trays. These objects are rich with marks and details. Tamares’s works are paintings of landscapes that are built up with layers of colour and textures. Most of Joo’s paintings have a narrative, and it is this story-telling element that she is interested in. Children’s books, for example, provide a rich source of inspiration for this artist.