less than extra ordinary
Images taken with the kind permission of PKW Gallery
Exhibition postcards sometimes reveal a lot about an exhibition: it is the first encounter a potential audience has with the show.
The exhibition didn’t bode too well, when you read the title twice – there seems to be two opposing exhibits, rolled into one exhibition. The postcard further read: ” Presenting works by – Erica Lai, Genevieve Chua and Jennifer Koh, et al, Curated by Jason Wee”. Again, the words “et al” was an omen that perhaps the curator didn’t care, or it is a deliberate curatorial attempt to distant, minuscule the context, artists or artworks.
The first space, had a minimalistic setting, exploring the potential for proximity with the photographs by placing them on shelves of varying height – presumably to create the illusion that the works are well spaced out, giving room to breath. But the problem is there is just too much breathing space that it starts to feel intimidating, and you start to wonder if the prints could have been a little bigger. They were neither personal ‘objects’ – treated with a reverence they are due – nor photographs – surely there’s a better manner, quantity, deliberation to exhibit these? The display just didn’t do the works justice.
To do the works justice would be to ignore the shelf and look at individual prints. The works could be considered contemplative gestures, with the camera in the traditions of snapshot photography, interpreting everyday life and it’s significant moments of interaction with objects. They are perhaps highly codified and personal, except for it’s simple aesthetics gestures – vignetting, play with composition, colour, out-of-focus, soft focus. One can almost imagine the discipline of the artists, carrying that camera or at least being near a camera when they took these photographs. Despite the seemingly codified curatorial text, that weighed more than the consideration for display of these ‘extra’-lised the photographs, the curator seem to emphasize that “the three set of photographs in this exhibition are abundantly ordinary”, yet dealing with issues that the photographers may not have necessarily agreed with. A curatorial text should bring the audience closer to the work, not distance it. the gallery hand-out seemed more like a distant foreword of the exhibition. This is in that sense, a daring curatorial practice, treading on the boundaries of an avant-garde exhibition or an incoherent one.
The next room perhaps sealed the fate of how I would rate the exhibition. The walls were lined in an undulating horizon, with pages cut/torn (not de-constructed) from recent art college graduate catalogues, which included established names such as Susie Wong, Rizman Putra just to name two. They seem to be selected pages from all the catalogues, but the sad state of the red tape aside, they are an interesting reminder of the number of visual art graduates we have per year, in page form. The room seems to suggest the potential for art, and art making by these 85 names and pages. Is this perhaps the intention of the curator, a critique of the faux pas branding of artists as ’emerging’ when some of them are already practitioners? Or it’s a suggestion of the fate that perhaps only 10-20% of yearly art graduates (my conjecture) will make it somehow, to become practising artists? Is it a critique of the market forces of the art world, or a bad pun on ‘red tape’? Much remains to ponder about this less than ordinary show. This is not an exhibition easy to read, and seems to be an indication of the rocky start of returning budding curator/Singapore Biennale artist, Jason Wee.
2.0 of 10 stars for ‘extra ordinary’.
1.0 of 10 stars for ‘ & The 9th Emerging Artists Show’
For more pictures, click on the picture below: