PKW: Appetites for Litter, The 8th Emerging Artists Show

alter-aesthetics – Lovely load of rubbish?

I’m still undecided over this exhibition, as I walked from space A to space B, hastening my pace; slowing down to scrutinise details, or the lack thereof; slipping into my conceptual frame of mind and telling myself that it’s an alter-asthetics, a mix cultures and art-forms, cross-breed materials as installations. Alter-aesthetics here, means the love for the abject as seen in Shubigi Rao, Jane Porter and Yeoh Wee Hwee’s works, and beauty the likes of Japanese Otaku crazed art in Alexis Hys works.

The first work that greets me are the works by Shubigi Rao, consisting of an abandoned suitcase of curious, notes and a lovely bound-book, and installation of a shelf full of modern trash, exhibited like archaelogogical finds like artist Mark Dion would have found important. Between these two works, is a table strewn with notes written to someone, by someone. It may have been the artist, but my suspicion is it may jolly have been an alter-ego. The bound-books are a far better illustration of the artist’s thoughts and the installation confuses things; It’s like a painting with a heavily built-up canvas with so much paint that it’s cracking beyond the expectations. Perhaps the work is about conceptually enshrining use-less objects, creating new meanings for them, just as how a painter creates a reality/realism on canvas.

Alexis Hys

Alexis Hys work come across as being about the love for superficiality, a sub-culture in its own right. Using supposedly found objects such as cutting boards, disposed cultured milk containers, and cut-up Japanese toy models of manga nymphs, she assembles mini-panoramas; they seem equally fragile and somewhat disposable, and this raises an interesting resonance to the word ‘decay’ if we read into the choice of kanji, the second Chinese Script of the word ‘tofu’. The works are incredibly sexy and attractive, if you buy into manga and Japanese sub-culture. (An exhibition elsewhere was put together, and readers interested should try searching this on on internet search engines: “Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s exploding Subculture”.)


Yeoh Wee Hwee’s art is a bit over-whelming. it features spore like, sporadic growth of man-made transparent-tape ‘organisms’ growing out of the store room. I’m not convinced that the gallery space is ‘prestined’ clean (lifted from wall text), enough to present a contrast for the work. The space is originally tiled in an attractive motif, and doesn’t complement the work and vice-versa. The work at most leads us to think about man-made litter, if I may indulge in reading the work further, mutated super viruses. I have another suspicion the work would have been successful if there was ONE molecule of such a abominal virus, in the style of local artist Chng Nai Wee, and occupying (nearly) the entire space.

Jane Porter

Jane Porter’s work is best left undescribed, and left inaccessible, as I felt when I had entered the upper gallery. It didn’t work because the videos didn’t work, and it was too minute, compared to the ‘monument to trash’ type of works I have seen, by several other artists like Michael Landy (Michael Landy famously destroyed all 7226 of his possessions). The stop-motion animation, in-between static was interesting and somewhat intriguing. It alone would have suffice, projected or on a small intimate monitor, lesser rubbish and actually allowing the viewer room to breath and think would have been nicer.

This exhibition had considerable curatorial support from heavy-weight curator/artist Michael Lee, but the show seemed to rely heavily (except Alexis Hys’) on such concepts and failed to work more thoroughly with the existing gallery space. For emerging artists, the art market system may not be ready to accept the kind of works they make. I am not implying that emerging artists should make pretty paintings, but perhaps a context of how these artists were invited, the kind of works they make, in the form of another wall text would not be too much to ask for from the curator or gallery. Considering the show had a catalogue, it warrants a good read for those interested in such aesthetics. For me, I have lost my appetite in a litter bit.

2.5 of 5 stars.

PKW gallery

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