wwwOBM: by Tang Mun Kit

Tang is a collector; of objects, sentiments and detritus.

(adapted from quote by TK Sabapathy)

The first impression of Mun Kit’s humble solo exhibition is the ‘finished’ feel of the paintings and sketches as studies and the woody feel of the installation. The drawings have a certain aesthetics that straddle between a Jean-Claude & Christo drawing and an expressive and vengeful abstraction of lines, splashes of colour and scribbled notes. The installation of dismantled wood from bird cages, cabinets, fences, net and canvas with two leering red bulbs greet the viewer when one enters the gallery. There is a certain coherence and sensibility in the organization of the space and works, and within the works.

What remains interesting is the artist’s classification of his sketches and paintings as studies, and not finished work. Hence there is this comparison to Christo who see his drawings as studies and the actual environmental works as temporary monuments.

The work is curiously linked to the saga of the Buangkok White Elephants, where 8 cutout standees in the graphic comic fashion of a white elephant were left installed and site-specific at the unopened Buangkok MRT station during a Ministerial visit. Mun Kit seemed unable to escape the image of one of those white elephant standees, and that image repeats, distorts slightly but remains recognizable in all of his studies. The work’s only relationship to the theme of the exhibition relates back to the Buangkok incident where an anonymous Singapore began to test one aspect of Out-of-Bound-Markers (OBM) by venting frustration creatively and humourously, by publicly suggesting that the MRT station was a ‘white elephant’ when it remained unopened for most of 2005. The station eventually opened on Dec 30, 2005, after months of studies and feedback from grassroot organisations.

I think the work remains as an appropriation of an image or national saga, and less about the ‘why world within OBM?” or “when world without OBM?” concepts that was proposed in the exhibition writeup. A master of assemblages, Mun Kit has failed to stretch his work in any ideation of out-of-bound-markers, other than deconstructing objects and displaying them regardless of their original form or outline. The artist has obviously worked from the position of without boundaries to work creatively with objects and no doubt nostalgic (national) sentiments, but doesn’t seem to convince an audience to do so likewise. The work is best seen as apolitical and an individualistic, artistic reaction to the Buangkok incident.

3 of 5 stars

Exhibition runs through Mar 26, 2006, Utterly Art Gallery

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