Saturday, November 27, 2010

Leslie Low + Yuen Chee Wai + John Hegre + Lasse Marhaug - Norwegian Seamen's Mission, 27 Nov 2010


norwegian seamen's mission

We climbed to the top of Pasir Panjang Hill, to a homely chapel building, overlooking the port and the sea, to listen to improvised music by John Hegre (Norway), Lasse Marhaug (Norway), Leslie Low, Yuen Chee Wai, as part of a series of gigs played in Norwegian Seamen's Missions all around the world. Strong coffee (no sugars), waffles, and jam. All four had begun the set together with an epic half hour jam, followed by two duets. I particularly enjoyed Leslie Low and Lasse Marhaug's duet - Leslie's melancholic guitar song underscored by crackling glitchsounds set off by Lasse Marhaug's giant hands crushing circuit boards together. Yuen Chee Wai and John Hegre's set was somehow not as cohesive, the elements seeming more disparate, and certain sort of sine waves, beeps and clicks seeming a bit out of place when played in a warm, organic church.

Improvised set by Leslie Low + Yuen Chee Wai + John Hegre + Lasse Marhaug
(Live, Norwegian Seamen's Mission, 27 Nov 2010)

Improvised set by Leslie Low + Lasse Marhaug (Live, Norwegian Seamen's Mission, 27 Nov 2010)

Improvised set by Yuen Chee Wai + John Hegre (Live, Norwegian Seamen's Mission, 27 Nov 2010)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Digi Daub (Post Museum, 21 Nov 2010)

Digi Daub @ Post Museum

Digi Daub @ Post Museum

two images which I particularly liked at the small show at Post Museum - creating organic shapes out of purely digital medium. the show consisted of digital painting works from students from School of Art Design and Media (Nanyang Technological University).

Trans-Cool Tokyo @ 8Q Singapore Art Museum


Trans-Cool Tokyo is a show which needs little introduction, with big and easily recognisable names such as Ryoji Ikeda, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, and Kohei Nawa. Over 40 works have been brought over from the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, many of which are practically icons of contemporary Japanese art and "superflat".

(Even the general Singaporean public might be aware of Yayoi Kusama since the "Ascension of Polkadots on the Trees" in 2006 (at the 2006 Singapore Biennale) when all the trees along the popular shopping area near Orchard and Scotts Road were covered in polka dots, prompting fervid outcries of "WHAT? POLKA DOTTED ROAD DECORATIONS ARE ART? HOW ABOUT I POLKA DOT YOU TOO?")


Standing innocently in the front of the exhibition, this well-taxidermied and baubled deer is the star of the exhibition. Yes, I know all of you came here just to see Kohei Nawa's famed Pixcell Deer (#17). The concept is brilliant (buying taxidermied animals on ebay), and best of all it is shiny and mesmerizing. Is that fur I see, supermagnified by the crystal balls? Why yes, I do like shiny things, and I do buy very many shiny things on the internet as well.


Ryoji Ikeda's Data Matrix [no 1-10] is a great epilepsy-inducing experience which I think could have been improved with either louder speakers or the addition of MIRRORS! Eitherways it is a physically enjoyable experience!



Out of all the works at the show, I really liked Michihiro Shimabuku's "Tour of Europe with One Eyebrow" and "Then, I decided to give a tour of Tokyo to the octopus from Akashi"; it is easy to see why its my favourite amongst all the works, because his work is focused on social awareness and in the process of making his works he also makes a documentation of local communities. I approve!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Spectacular Spectacular @ The Substation




Zul Othman (ZERO)'s The Spectacular Spectacular has been showing at the Substation - replete with glittering outdoor signboards, bright lights, a couple of huge designer dolls sitting in the centre of the gallery, a rack of t-shirts with graphic prints, and a cash register. ZERO's work are a statement on how graffiti art has been co-opted into advertising and branding strategy today, himself being one of those street artists who have been approached to make works for large brands. His big and lovely caricature dolls were apparently hand-sewn, but like all the other things in the exhibition, they are well-constructed enough to exude the illusion that they might have been mass-produced. With a topic like this, it is hard to say that this work is anything groundbreaking or new; this is also a popular concept with japanese pop artists such as Takashi Murakami (who is incidentally currently showing at TransCool Tokyo at 8Q/Singapore Art Museum).

However, I recalled seeing that one of ZERO's works was titled "Heineken Green Room", in reference to the largely successful and popular HGR nights held here in Singapore and KL. I suppose they don't call it "Heineken Green Room" in any other parts of the world, but I could be wrong. Perhaps some might even think of it as a "local reference" but of course it is all an illusion. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against HGR; in fact I myself have actually been going to nearly all the Heineken Green Room nights in Singapore, and they have been bringing some really brilliant overseas acts down including Kode9 and Gaslamp Killer. But to some extent that is still globalisation for you. Even local Singaporean music and music tastes are heavily influenced by sounds from outside rather than within. Is there even any "Singaporean sound" left?

A cartoon creature with a branded face that resembles a Heineken logo is still something that has had the local culture first sucked out of it and then replaced by a faceless approximation of "globalised youth/popular culture", indistinguishable from one city to the next. Beware the ultimate postmodernist horror, of one day stepping into a town where everyone says that they are all selling the same type of "vintage" goods. It's all the rage now.

See also:
Substation Associate Artist Showcase: The Spectacular Spectacular by ZERO
A Spectacular Zero - Interview with Zul by Chris Ong

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Trappole (Art Trove, 15 Nov 2010)


Trappole was a exhibition curated by Daniela Beltrani, featuring works by Ezzam Rahman, Kenneth Feinstein, Matthew Bax, Rajinder Singh, and Zaki Razak. Although I sadly did not take any pictures at the exhibition, it is still worth a note here, being one of the more unusual exhibitions I've been to here.

The gallery Art Trove, while situated in what seems like a naturally popular area for commercial galleries, had not yet formally opened for business yet, so one had to locate this venue first. And it was not quite the conventional exhibition either, as finding the works within the space was yet another feat in itself. Audiences arrived with an expectation of seeing works but instead were greeted by a scene which was "still under construction"; Rajinder's large broken concrete walls in the centre of the space, Ken Feinstein's ants crawling over the walls, Ezzam's video next to a kettle, Matthew Bax's Construction signs, and not forgetting Zaki Razak's subliminal smells of Laksa in the room (which was sometimes interpreted as various other food smells, such as mushroom?). In any case, a simple but elegantly conceptualised exhibition by Daniela, and I look forward to more daring things to come!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rooted In the Ephemeral Speak (R.I.T.E.S) (8th) - Post Museum, 5 Nov 2010


The 8th installment of Rooted In the Ephemeral Speak (R.I.T.E.S) featured Jittima Pholsawek (TH), Eric Scott Nelson (US/KP), Alice De Visscher (BE), Cheng Guang Feng (CN), Lynn Lu (SG) and Him Lo (HK). I was a bit late so I missed the first two performances by Jittima and Eric Scott Nelson, but I arrived just in time to see a massive spectacle forming on the street.



Hong Kong performance artist Him Lo had meticulously covered himself in black paint - so strikingly dark that one could have been forgiven for having mistaken him for being of african descent if one had not looked at his facial features. Rowell Road is always especially busy on Sunday night, and a huge crowd of indian workers soon thronged around Him Lo on the side of Rowell Road as he crawled across the street to fetch boxes and then dragged them together to make a cardboard house which he then sat inside. Even the police came over to have a check on the huge crowd situation at the street, but they did not infer and just stopped to watch the performance for a while too. An apt location for such a piece, since Little India is particularly full of overcrowded flatshares for transient workers.



Belgium performance artist Alice De Visscher used sponges and her body to build a wall in the corridor of the building, and then to explode it as well. Interesting use of materials.


Cheng Guang Feng collected items from audience members in a big bucket, and then dropped them one by one on to a microphone to make a sound. From small ezlink cards, to books to buzzing radios, he played with them to get sounds out of them, and eventually dropped the items back in the bucket as well. Guang Feng ended off by saying: "The sound in here comes from everyone." I liked the concept of this, although it was not necessarily very melodious. Seems like a natural extension of his other work, for example the piece in which he mic-ed up his chest and got people to hit him to make a sound (circa 2006?)

Lynn Lu

Finally there was Lynn Lu's piece, which featured a man sitting in the middle of a candle lit table, reading a very thick encyclopedic book. Lynn came in and periodically extinguished a single flame, until all the candles were out and reading became ostensibly impossible for the man.