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

No comments: