Reviewing “Terrorist art attack By Ong Su Bin The Straits Times, 2006-02-18”

An article about Jeremy Hiah’s exhibition appeared in Life!, the supplement to the Straits Times, much to our eager anticipation. However the article was less than accurate and seem to compartmentalise the artist’s work as a kind of ‘terrorist art attack’, a phrase if taken out of context, will prompt the meekest person to call 999. The writer seemed determine to quote Hiah to bits, and pin his art down to a ‘T’. As I read the article, I can’t help but suspect the writer didn’t see the exhibition, because of the inconsistency with naming works – Hiah’s exhibition was spread over 2 venues, with “a poster-sized oil copy of the Mona Lisa” exhibiting at p-10 and not your mother’s gallery. The article also failed to engage with the physical aspect of the work. Did the fake garden bring laughter because of its Kitsch? Were the inkjet wall prints inspiring spoofs of wedding photography? Was it more a statement on the commitment and complications of marriage?

If the size of the article has any bearing on the significance of the show to the editor, the exhibition was indeed well received. I can’t help but feel that the editor was playing up the theme of ‘terrorism’, and tossing it together with the recent Danish caricature problem. Perhaps the artist did want this media association, and ‘any publicity is good publicity’. But surely Hiah’s work should be contextualised with Naïve Art, or a certain European flavour of bad painting, or even the blurring of boundaries between artist and audience; performance art, installation and photography.

A review of ‘I M Breather’ will be posted soon.

I M Breather part 1 is on show at p-10; part 2 at your mother’s gallery.

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